Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Lesson He Can Take to the Bank...

Hopefully the bank will start paying interest on lessons learned. Because I don't think he'll have much money sitting in there any time soon.

I'm trying to teach Drew about money. We have 3 jars (Give. Save. Spend). We've had them for a while now, but I'm the most inconsistent parent on the planet. SO... some weeks he gets an allowance, some weeks he doesn't. Sometimes birthday and Christmas money make it into the jars, and sometimes they don't.

But now that I'm doing the Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey's stuff), I have a new resolve to start my child early on financial responsibility.

(By the way, who WOULDN'T have a new resolve when shown one of those compound interest charts. You know.. the ones that tell you that if you'd just put a dollar a year away when you were five years old, you'd be able to retire on $70 million?!?!?! Yeah, my math might be off a bit, but that compound interest makes you want to stop every toddler on the street and beg them to start SAVING!!!).

So, Drew. Money. Lessons.

I gave him a dollar the other day for doing his chores the previous week. Added to some money he already had, my son stuffed his $3 in a wallet and begged to come help me do my weekly grocery run. On the way to the store, I reminded him that one of those dollars needed to be split between his "Give" and "Save" jars. The other $2 could be spent however he saw fit.

Well, he saw "fit" as soon as the automatic doors slid open. Because, just inside the doors of the superstore, THE CLAW beckoned my son. You know the one. That arcade game with the claw-like arm. You feed it quarters in the ill-fated attempt to win a ten cent plastic dinosaur that is way too heavy for the claw to ever pick up. And even if it DOES happen to grip one of the cheap toys below, you know that your prize is just going to fall from it's grasp somewhere along the mile-long journey it must make to the exit chute.

So, Drew stopped frozen in his tracks and announced, "This is what I'm spending my money on!"

"No!" I pleaded. "You don't want to spend all your money on this game, buddy. No one EVER wins this game. You're going to spend a dollar and walk away with nothing. Let's go look inside the store for a little toy. Maybe some candy! How about some gum?"

But his mind was made up, and it was his money, after all. So I handed over 4 quarters and took one of his dollars from him.

The first two quarters met their inevitable fate.

I tried again, "See buddy! Nobody wins at this game. Let's save your other quarters. With the dollar you still have, you could get something really nice inside!"

"I'm trying again, mom! One more time!"


He loaded up the machine and it sprang back to life. The claw plunged down toward the pit of plastic trash. And it reemerged with a plastic dinosaur firmly in it's grip.

Drew's eyes bulged out of his head as we looked at each other in disbelief. We watched as that little green dinosaur safely made the journey to the drop-off. And he squealed with delight as he reached his little hand into the machine and pulled out his treasure.

"Woohoo!" he shouted as I ushered him into the store, still a little bewildered. "I'm going to play that game EVERY TIME I come here now!"

As I contemplated where my lesson had gone wrong, and how I could redeem the teachable moment, we moved on. He began plotting exactly how he wanted to spend his second dollar.

We visited the toy aisle, and I was pleased with his decision making skills. Nothing in his price range peaked his interest, so we decided to do our grocery shopping and see if a piece of candy might fit his budget and appetite.

The Valentine's aisle held oodles of promise, and it was no time before he found a giant orange heart-shaped lollipop for... ONE DOLLAR!

As he reached for his selection, I offered to put the candy into our shopping cart with the warning, "You should let me hold that. If you drop your lollipop on the hard floor, it'll shatter into a million pieces."

"No thanks, I'll hold it really tigh..... oops...."

There it was, on the floor. Shattered into a million pieces (ok, maybe ten).

My first lesson had backfired at the arcade game, but I could taste redemption. This was an "I told you so" and "You break it you buy it" all rolled into one.

I began my lecture as we moved on (with Drew and his broken lollipop now safely seated in my shopping cart). He quietly listened as I maneuvered through the aisles. After a few minutes of thoughtful silence, he spoke up.

"You know what, mommy?! I am SO glad that my lollipop broke into so many pieces. Now, when I unwrap it, I'll have one for tomorrow, one for the next day, and every day ALL WEEK!"

So, what here's what I learned on our trip to the store.

Two dollars will buy a four-year old boy a ten-cent plastic dinosaur and a broken lollipop and the BEST TIME EVER at the grocery store.

It will concurrently prove to a mother of a four-year-old that while some money lessons might be lost on the kid, the example of positive thinking and exuberant joy should NOT be lost on the grown-up.

And that's a lesson you can take to the bank!


averipeytonsmommy said...

part of me is glad averi had to go fix her make-up and she didn't get to hear that whole story! good one! thanks for sharing!

Two Shades of Pink said...

I love, love, love this sorry. It taught this mommy A LOT of lessons too!

Surviving 4 said...


Sorry, that one made me laugh :) Great post, friend. And great lessons. And oh, great frustrations.

Why, oh why, don't life lessons ever work out for us the way they do on The Cosby Show? If I ever put one of my children on mock trial for something, he or she will probably win the mock legal battle, thereby KILLING my lesson.


Glad we can keep a positive attitude about it :) Thanks, Drew!

Christy Odom said...

I am impressed at how your sweet boy looks on the bright side. My 3 year old melts down if his granola bar breaks despite me saying that he now has 2 granola bars. Great story.