Friday, April 3, 2009

all about money

Growing up as one of 6 children of an immigrant working class family, I had a keen awareness of money early on ... mainly that we didn't have much. I accepted it as a fact. In Grade 6, I remember dropping out of the broomball team when I learned that we had to supply our own broom. Later, I realized that a broom would have cost only a couple of dollars but, at the time, I felt I couldn't burden my parents with such frivolities. I didn't even ask them. My parents were not stingy people. They gave us what they could afford to give on our birthdays and at Christmas time. I had a happy childhood. And that was good enough for me.

By the time I reached Grade 11, we were living in a middle class neighbourhood enjoying middle class possessions. My parents had worked very hard. So when one of the more popular girls in school laughed at my shoes for being a knock-off of her swoosh brand runners, I didn't feel bad. I liked my shoes. My mom would have bought the swoosh brand but I preferred the knock-offs because I liked the colour and logo better. I labelled that girl as a brat and moved on.

Now many, many years later, I worry that my boys will miss out on valuable lessons I learned from being 'without'. The Good Man and I are not filthy rich but we are financially secure ... not unusual for two 40-somethings who have just recently started a family. Little Dude and Littler Dude have and will have so much more than I ever did. I know first hand that kids catch on early about their financial situation. How will my boys cope? Will they learn to value what they have and show respect for those who don't have much? How will they handle peer pressure? Will they be motivated to work hard knowing that they have a safety net?

The Good Man and I don't have it completely figured out but we both agree that we need to start influencing our boys early. They already know what money is. They ask for it every time we're at the mall and walk past the water fountain or the strategically-placed, coin-operated kiddy vehicles. The water fountain is a no-brainer. The money goes to charity so we don't mind giving the boys a few coins to throw in. And, sometimes (maybe 3/4 of the time) the boys will get one ride on the vehicle of their choice. They complain when they don't get a ride and may fuss a little when they don't get a 2nd ride, but never to a tantrum-like level. This is normal, I think.

Last week, I found a book from The Cat and the Hat's Learning Library series. When I read the first page, I knew I wanted my boys to read it ...

I'm the Cat in the Hat
and you know something funny?
We're about to have fun
learning all about money!

Where does it come from?
Can you answer that, please?
I will give you a hint:
It does not grow on trees!

(from 'One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent' by Bonnie Worth)

The book is designed for early readers and looks at the history of money, how it is minted and stored in banks. My boys are too young to read but not too young to learn about where money comes from.

The Good Man read the book to the boys one afternoon. Little Dude seemed absorbed by it and even asked questions during the reading. Afterwards, The Good Man asked, "So what's the book all about?" And, Little Dude replied, "Uhmm. All about money!" The Good Man and I looked at each other and gave the knowing 'wow' look. This was Little Dude's first oral book report and he passed with flying colours. [Groan] Yes, I know. All parents think their kids are brilliant.

The next morning at breakfast, we ran out of Little Dude's favourite waffles. The Good Man took this as an opportunity to review the book again. "We need go to the store to buy more waffles, Little Dude. What do we need to have to buy waffles?"

"Money," was the emphatic answer.

"And, where does money come from?" the Good Man quized further.

"From a treasure chest," harped Little Dude.

The Good Man and I couldn't help but laugh. This wasn't the answer we were expecting. We're not even sure where 'treasure chest' came from. But it was good enough for now. After all, stealth tactics aside, one must work hard and be persistent in finding that elusive treasure chest.


  1. I want a treasure chest!

    I think I might have to look into that book for my older daughter. She understands that we buy things with money, but hasn't quite gotten the concept that everything DOESN'T automatically belong only to her just because she likes/wants it.

  2. I just realized last week that I have neglected to teach my son much about money. I tried to explain the concept of the MAC machine and now I'm sure he thinks it's a magic machine that randomly spits out money to anyone. **sigh** What's the name of that book again??

  3. The other day, my 4-yr-old told me money comes from the "Money Store".

    I enjoy your writing - if you don't mind, I would like to add you to my blogroll...