It all started when I bought him the wallet. Alright … it was, in all likelihood, some time before that … possibly when I told him he could have any money he found under the couch cushions if he helped me vacuum … but that's neither here nor there.
Vacuuming wasn't The Champ's first choice of employment options. With his slight frame and fear of loud noises, it simply wasn't a good match.
The wallet, on the other hand, was the thing that pulled the whole idea together. The wallet meant independence. It also meant incentive.
The fact that the blue, nylon billfold sported an adorable pirate smiling out in sweet cartoonish innocence under a red sticker marked “Half Price” was only incidental.
It was a perfect storm of development milestone meets consumer millstone … a fiduciary accessory that was cute to boot.
Of course it was an impulse purchase.
Regardless, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce the concept of cold hard cash. Shopping trips as of late had become interesting, mostly as a result of his interest in points of purchase and my dwindling income. “Just go to the bank,” was never a viable solution to the perennial “We don't have any money for that frivolous purchase” conundrum anyway
How much things cost was the easy part. How much he was worth, harder. Confusion about why I could not give him a job that could earn him riches beyond his wildest dreams lead to many questions … and then, like any good capitalist, the ignoring of answers all together.
“And then we'll go to the Toy Store … and I will buy my own toy,” he said with the resolve of a thousand boys who'd only just yesterday been thwarted from that very pursuit with a single “No” for an answer.
“Son. You don't have enough money to buy the Super Duper Connecting Blocks Activity Set with the Inlayed Gold and Ruby Encrusted Helipad that I told you we couldn't afford yesterday … and the day before that.”
“But I have a wallet now.”
“And you haven't earned enough money. You only have 16 cents you found in the laundry and a pile of crumbs from the sofa.”
“You could give me more money. I would put it in my wallet and then I could buy the toy.”
“You have to save your money and stop spending it on Alien Attack packages you don't remember two days after you've bought them.”
“But you could …”
“Nice try, but no.
Ok .. it was a string of Nos in rapid succession, but no one behind me in line would challenge my right to use the parenting express lane just because I'd put more than 14 items in my basket. Fourteen Nos are basically one item. Fourteen Nos aren't anything like one No and 13 Maybes … (if you Stop Carrying On like a Spoiled Brat or any number of other potentially mollifying flavors).”
Sounding crazy is just a perk of seat-of-my-pants parenting. I believe most kids intuitively know this and test you at inopportune moments just because they like proving their impish power.
It also shows where the power truly lies … with the squeakiest wheel.
Where was I? Oh yes ...
The empty wallet, which was still a problem in the eyes of The Champ.
“If I had a million dollars, ma, I'd buy you breakfast at Old McDonald's.”
“If you had a million dollars I'd want more than Old McDonald's my friend. I'd want you to pay your fair share of taxes so we could stop firing teachers and start fixing bridges.”
“So how can I earn the money for my Legos?”
I shrug my shoulders.
“Perhaps you should go out to the garden and dig for buried treasure. I'm pretty sure I saw some. All you need to do is clear away the weeds.”