Economics 101: What I’m Teaching My Kids About Money (And What They’re Teaching Me)

So last night, this happened…

Last night was a peaceful evening in our home.  I had mowed the lawn and helped my brother-in-law set some fence posts at his house.  At my home, my wife and I had straightened up from the usual kids-home-for-summer mess that seems simply to take over during July.  I was sitting at my piano, playing Prokofiev (because I can and because it adds to the serenity).  My wife was watching a movie.  Our kids were playing in their bedroom.  I was shirtless.  More on that later.

Just like that, the peace was disturbed.  My precious daughter, all of five years-old, came tearing out of her bedroom in tears.  My seven year-old son followed quickly.  My first tendency was to ask “Son, what did you do?”  To my surprise, however, he had done nothing and she, usually a bit of a dramatist, was crying real tears.  She was genuinely heartbroken.

“What happened, baby?” I said with all the tenderness a father can muster for his little girl.  By the way, she was clad in a Cinderella costume and plastic “glass” slippers.  Through her sobs she revealed that she had dropped her piggy bank and it shattered.  I looked her square in the eye and broke the cold hard truth to her.

“Angel, don’t be too sad.  Obama was just going to take it all anyway.”

She looked up at me and cried harder and louder.  I sent her to Mommy while I went in to assess the damage.

So, all those times that I have loose change in my pockets and I dump a fistful of coins onto my dresser at night before getting into bed?  Those times when I look at the accumulating silver and copper and think “What the heck.  Let me just drop this 83₵ into the kids’ piggy banks.  It’s just change…”  Yeah, those times.  On the floor of my children’s bedroom I stumbled upon a picture that looked like these two had knocked over Fort Knox rather than breaking a piggy bank.

“Sweetheart?” I called.  “Scratch that, Honey?” I said, calling to my wife.  “Did you know how much loot these two have?”  No answer.  So I walked across the house to where she was sitting.  “Did you know they’ve got serious money in there?”  She looked at me and then reminded me that a friend of ours who used to visit from Paris would drop Euro coins and bills into the banks.  “No, babe, these are American coins and bills too.”  “Heh,” she said and returned to her movie.

By now I was wondering what happened to the Prokofiev and you’re probably wondering what happened to my shirt.  OK, the music I can return to any time.  The shirt?  I told you I’d been mowing.  It’s Texas.  It’s 4 million degrees.  I sweat a lot.  Oh, and I had been working out.  Bottom line, I did NOT think I’d be stopping down to pick up shards of broken ceramics off a carpeted floor.

Being the dutiful daddy, I swept into my daughter’s room, broom in hand.  Did you like that?  Swept.  Broom.  Get it?  Whatever.  Crouched on the floor, dripping in sweat, my sinewy muscles rippling – wait, wrong story.  I got down and realized a few more things about this situation.  So I already got that my kids have more money than me.  I’m Catholic so I accept that some things are just a mystery and that’s OK.  But I also noticed that broken ceramics hurt.  When I was all through sorting cash from glass I stood up, knees bruised and bleeding, muscle still rippling (had to through that in there since it is my blog) and I wondered: Who gave this gigantic torture instrument to my child? And how’d I get broken glass in my left nipple? Turns out it was my wife’s friend Jean and she gave it to us before my daughter was even born.  No wonder my little girl was so sad.  That and the fact that it was a huge, hot pink pig wearing a crown and sash ala a beauty contest.

Then I wondered to myself if there was a recovery fee I could legitimately charge my daughter.  Surely there was enough in here for a pack of smokes or a bottle of gin.  It’s not like I didn’t “invest” in this stash anyway.  But I’m a good day (or at least I try to be) and so I left all of her assets in a large Tupperware container on her dresser.

Here’s what I learned in all of this.

  • The global distribution of money is not fair.
  • Broken ceramics hurt and cut and, quite possibly, kill.
  • Prokofiev is deceptively difficult to play.
  • I need to keep my shirt on.

Oh, one more thing I learned is that my daughter thinks I really am a superhero. When she saw me throwing the bag with the broken bank fragments away, she looked up and said “Wait, Daddy?  Aren’t you going to put it back together for me?”  Anyone know where they sell a boatload of Crazy Glue?

One response to “Economics 101: What I’m Teaching My Kids About Money (And What They’re Teaching Me)

  1. Never a dull moment at your house! Instead of looking for glue, look on e-bay or amazon for “big pink piggy bank”…..a lot less hassle, and from the photo, it looks like there just might be enough money to pay for it too. 🙂

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