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Big Guy’s money lesson, Mommy’s migraine

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Aug. 22, 2007, thehive.modbee.com   

Week 4 into the Grand Allowance Experiment, and I now understand why so many parents choose extremes.

I could have picked Dictator Mommy and just barked, “No! You can’t have it.” I could have picked Push-Over Mommy and said, “Of course, my sweet. I’ll buy whatever you want.”

Instead, stupid me went for the middle ground, the land of learning to make good decisions about money.

 The decision has turned every shopping trip into an exhausting trudge.

I hate it when my masochistic side takes over.

Week 1: 

We hit the summer clearance sales at Kohl’s, where the toy department is next to toddler clothing. Smart store designer.

Big Guy, financially flush with the week’s $5 and late-arriving birthday cash, locks on a Dora the Explorer Travel and Care Pony Trailer. He’s not that into Dora, but he is into a girl at school who loves horses.

It’s $35. “Mommy, do I have enough for Dora?” he asks.

“No, but you’re getting close. If you save your money for a few more weeks, you will.” He gazes longingly, but grabs a noisy purple car – Ramone from “Cars.” “I want this!” he says, dancing excitedly.

I avoid cringing, not so much as the volume, but at the fact that the $15 car was more overpriced than the $35 trailer. He looks at a few other toys, deciding against a Thomas set because Little Guy liked it too much. He ends up buying the noisy nuisance. He plays with it for only a day or so. You better believe I’ll remind him of that  purchase.

Week 2:  

Let’s play “Groan Through the Grocery Store”!

This is supposed to be a quick trip to Raley’s to pick up prescriptions, but there is no such thing as a quick trip anymore. Not when you’re in a business with a 4-year-old and his wallet, negotiating a mine field of candy, balloons, toys. And especially not when the organic candy – much of it dye-free and Big Guy-safe – is close to the pharmacy.

Drunk on the joy of shoveling his own candy into the bag, he scoops up a mountain of  “nem and nems.” In this case, organic and dye-free means expensive. I estimate the damage at $6.

Minutes later, he spies a convenient kid-level display of Cheetos and grabs two bags. When he says one is for Little Guy, I almost cave. Instead, we sit near the pharmacy and remove the money from his ratty hand-me-down wallet.

“This is how much the M&Ms cost,” I say, peeling off six bills, “and this much more will get you the Cheetos,” taking another $4. “That only leaves you $5 in your savings for Dora. Are you sure?”

He puts the candy back and says, “We can share one Cheetos.”

As the pharmacy clerk compliments our financial management schooling, I want to ask her if Valium is available over the counter.

Week 3:  

A quick trip – yeah, right – to Target because I’m tired of umpiring disputes over the single plastic baseball bat.

I’m almost home free after 10 minutes spent deciding between a blue and a red bat – thank God there weren’t more colors – but then we hit the Dora trap.

He stops to visit the trailer. “Do I have enough?” he asks. “Not quite. Three more weeks if you save all your allowance every week.”

He spies a Thomas set. “How about this?” “Yes, you have enough to buy that.” And I was rooting for Thomas, because, to be honest, I’ve joined the cult, too. But Little Guy blew it again by looking too interested.

“Nah. I want this fire truck.”

“There are three fire trucks at home already. You sure?”

“Nah. I want this big truck.”

“You have two big trucks. You sure?”

“Nah. I’ll wait on Dora.”

 Week 4

It’s only Wednesday, but so far we’ve stayed out of Kohl’s, Raley’s and Target. The Dora fund is only $10 off. I’m avoiding all retail establishments for the next two weeks. 

 Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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