It was way past Ella's bedtime and she was still getting ready.
Ella [sad]: Mum, I put Whitie* in the bush outside, and now he's not there. (*Whitie is a stuffed white tiger toy)
Me - You must have taken him out and put him somewhere else. Think! Noone would've stolen him from the bush.
Ella - Because he looks so grumpy?
Me - No, because there are no people bad enough here to steal a child's toy from their front yard.
She looked so terribly sad at the prospect of going to bed without Whitie, that I decided to forget about the whole learning through consequences thing and offer my help. But not for free.
Me - I'll tell you what, I bet you that I can find him in 5 minutes or less. How much?
Ella - How much do you want?
Me - Well, I always prefer if you do something for me instead of give me something. So what will you do for me if I find Whitie in less than 5 minutes?
Ella - Help you make dinner for a whole week.
Me - I think that's a bit much. Make it one day.
Ella - No, a whole week.
Me - One day.
Ella - A week.
Me - If you're going to help me make dinner for a whole week, I'll have to find him in 1 minute! If it takes me 5 minutes, you'll help me with dinner tomorrow. Deal?
Ella - Deal!
By then she was laughing through her tears and I send her off to bed while I got up to start the search. I think it took me 30 seconds to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen where the first thing I saw on the messy kitchen table was Whitie. Looking grumpy.