Preschool Money Matters

dec6 On the sixth day of Christmas, my true loves gave to me….six chocolatechip cookies, five hours’ alone, four people dressed, three frozen fruit treats, two burning snowmen and a queasy feeling in my tummy.

Because he started talking about money and expressed an interest in purchasing his own toys, we started giving our not-quite-five-year-old an allowance. A very sporadic, ‘whatever’ allowance. As in, ‘hey, thanks for doing your chore…here’s two (or three, or four) random coins I picked out of the change jar!’

Upon receipt of the loot, he’d run over to his piggy bank (a heavy, clear glass pig that once belonged to his dad) and deposit the coins. His initial excitement at earning an income faded quickly, however, and his output in the ‘chore’ department, decreased significantly. Luckily he hit a (minor) jackpot when his grandparents came to visit – they were more than happy to contribute the coins that remained in their wallets on the eve of their departures. (It also became apparent that he had zero understanding of the value of money, preferring brown coins to silver. ‘No, I just want the brown…not the silber.’)

But he also lost some money. For bad behavior, of course. ‘If you don’t obey, I’m going to take away two (or three, or four) allowances,’ I’d warn. Encouraging him in the use of fake words, no doubt. Funnily, he would get very upset about losing his ‘allowances’ but not upset enough to obey or correct the bad behavior in question. The dilemma of mankind, I suppose.

In addition to being used as leverage for encouraging good behavior, the allowance also proved most useful in a store situation. ‘I think I’d like a big dump truck’ he would say when in the toy aisle of a store. And instead of having to be the ‘heavy’ who says ‘we’re not getting a dump truck today’ etc, I’d just say: ‘oh, do you want to use your allowance for that.’

And he’d always say ‘no’. And we’d move on without a tantrum.

So we were driving in the car on Friday night, after the boys picked me up from the bookstore where I’d been hiding out.

We were talking about their excursion to the car wash place when G piped up ‘maaaybe we can go to the movie peater tomorrow’ he hinted-asked. Which was cute and problematic. I’d suggested we go to the theater last weekend and he’d declined. So instead I’d bought him the Wall-E DVD, figuring it was a significant savings from taking four people to the movies. (Thanks Canada for not having matinee prices, and for charging a one year old the same price as a thirteen year old!) So I wasn’t particularly inclined to give him a new DVD one weekend and a trip to the movies the next. I decided to play my trump card: ‘Do you want to use your allowance to go to the movie theater?’

‘Yeah…I want to use my allowance.’ (Which was kind of an ‘aww’ moment – our boy had made his first spending decision.)

So we got out the piggy bank this morning and shook out its contents. A little over $9 emerged which would cover his ticket to ‘Madagascar 2.’

The movie Jason has since dubbed as ‘the worst children’s movie – eeeeever.’

The piggy bank didn’t, however, have enough contents to cover the cost of the Orange Julius beverage they shared. Apparently the Bank of Jason had come through with a bail-out plan.

‘Did you get me a drink, too?’ I asked when I picked them up.

‘No….we didn’t. Maybe next time,’ the boy replied sincerely, as if it was some significant consolation.

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