Kids and Money

We are constantly at war in this house over money earned, money saved and money lost. It’s everywhere we turn:

Teeth. Due to thunderstorms and turbulence, the Tooth Fairy didn’t make it into Nelson’s room on a recent April night. A day later, she left a dollar. Another day later, Nelson lost it. Where? What mysterious force resides over the room of my child? I believe it goes by the name of “disarray.”

Coupons. Grandma had the 9-year-old go through the checkout line at Bed, Bath & Beyond to use a 10% off coupon* on a spatula she wanted. *(Limited to one per customer.) Money saved! Grandma let them keep the change from the $20 bill. She was out $4 to each child. Money lost!

Nelson gave me his $4 to “hold onto,” which was reabsorbed into my cash until a week later when he came looking for it. I wasn’t sure if it was in my purse, on my dresser or in a cash register at Lake Ann Grocery. I gave him the only thing I could find, a $5 bill. Money lost!

Wallets. Each of my boys has a wallet. Neither knows where it is. What’s the point of keeping track of an empty plasticy-thing that folds in thirds? None apparently. Not even the one with a Luke Duke driver’s license in it. Instead the children prefer Ziploc bags, usually handed over by an adult who has just cleaned the spare change from his pocket.

The bags become all important, jangling to and fro. Until there’s a scuffle. The bags are dropped and, when retrieved, look identical to each other. Who had $2? Who had $3? Here, let me top that off for you and everyone has $3 now, just like you both seem to remember. Money lost (me)! Money earned (them, as usual)!

Chores. Kendall wanted to save money for a DS player: $100. An impossible sum, or so I thought. But he had a hefty start of $40 from his birthday. Money saved!

The next chunk he earned by way of chores. Empty the dishwasher? 50 cents. Fold the laundry? Nothing. Fold and put away the laundry? Nothing. Fold and put away his brother’s underwear? $1. Get momma her book from across the room? Late evening is a seller’s market. Money earned!

Chores, Grandma Style. I got plenty of help around the house until Grandma’s accounting came into practice again. Kendall had earned his way up to $85 in a few months’ time. I was impressed. Also I was thinking I’d get another month of complaint-free labor out of him.

Until he went to Gram’s for the afternoon and earned $15 for weeding the garden. Some of the garden, some of the weeds.

When I picked him up, he was ecstatic. Work finally made sense to him. He was wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. $100 total in a wilted baggie. Money earned!
Nelson looked on incredulously until Gram offered him $1 in hush money, which he took without negotiation. Money lost!

Chores, thanks to Grandma. Now my little laborers are on the verge of forming a union. Their prices are getting higher, their woes growing larger. Nelson wanted $1 tonight for helping Tim fertilize the lawn. His contribution? Asking Tim how the fertilizer spreader worked. Now he’s charging us for speaking, it appears.

On the same night, Kendall did a fab job of hauling away all the cuttings from the garden and I bestowed $3 upon him for an hour’s work. (Hey, the union is still just a dream.) He looked at me, raised his eyebrows, stuck out his hand and said, “Five!” I gave him $4, glad he didn’t ask for Grandma’s rate of $15. Money saved!

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