He was persistent in his campaign over the course of a week or two, and eventually we came to an agreement. I explained what a lease contract was, and that some things, like cars or homes, are either rented month to month, leased (kind of like renting) for a preset period of time, or purchased in full. I also explained how some leases come with an option to purchase the item at the end of a term. We talked about how with cars there was maintenance requirements and maximum allowed mileage, or the leasee would incur a steep penalty. In my opinion, leasing a car is never a smart way to buy a car, but it made for a good example. I agreed to lease him the chicken with an option to buy it at the end of 3 months. If the chicken didn’t already live here, I probably would not have agreed to it, nor would I ever agree to this for a new pet. However, this would give him the opportunity to prove he was a good pet owner. Three months is a long enough period of time that the novelty could wear off or he could slack off on chicken chores. If he did, I would take back the chicken, as outlined in our contract.
After writing the contract together, we both signed it. J is 13 and old enough to understand the consequences of our contract agreement. The terms included daily care, feeding, scrubbing and refilling the waterer, and regular roost cleaning. In the case of this chicken, it meant occasional baths since white chickens seem to show dirt more than other colors. Another contract condition was he could not name the chicken until the end of the lease period. There was also the clause that if he neglected his chicken’s care or missed a single $5 payment, he forfeited his lease and option to buy (an additional $15) at the end of the 3 month term. That meant he could not go out and spend all his allowance money on video games with nothing left for the monthly chicken payment or final purchase amount.
I got to say, he has been way more conscientious about this than I expected, and I am really proud of him. The lease began on September 15th when he made his first $5 payment, and he hasn’t missed a day of care yet! His second monthly payment was made on Saturday. He is actually doing twice as much as I thought he would. As soon as he is done getting ready for school and as soon as he gets home, he is outside taking care of the chickens. Two weeks into it, I realized that the other chickens were unfairly getting the same benefits of his care and feeding (minus the cuddles the white one was getting,) that I told him I would give him an additional $5 a month toward his allowance for this. Therefore, cost wise, he is breaking even on the lease payments, but still needing to be responsible. Although he doesn’t get to officially name her yet, he secretly discusses with his sister some of his crazy choices for names.
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