Monday, April 16, 2012

Money week (Part I)

Where Is My Money Tree?

It’s tax week in the US, and so all working Americans have to make sure their tax returns are complete and filed by tomorrow.  So, I thought, that this week is the most appropriate time to talk about money. How we get money, how we spend money, and why we want money.

I started thinking about when and how I was first encountered with money, and I realized that the first type of money a lot of us get is from the tooth fairy.

Not a great lesson on how to earn money, I thought. By the time kids turn six or seven, do they still have their trusting nature or do they just play along to get a quarter? Is this why as they grow up, they still think that parents should pay for their tenth teddy bear or truck or jeans, for their fish or birds or turtles, the college tuition or first car? Is this why they think money grow on trees?

I have to admit that I participated in this deception of lying to my kids that they could get money from fairies, since I traded quarters for every single baby tooth my boys lost. And I hope that I did not give them wrong idea! So, I decided to talk to them both and set everything straight.

“Alex,” I called my youngest. “Tell me, do you believe in a Tooth Fairy?”
“No,” he said, “I don’t believe in any of that stuff.”

Wait, what?! I really did not anticipate such brutal honesty from a seven-year-old. He did not even try to play along!

“What do you mean you don’t believe in a tooth fairy? Who do you think gave you this quarter?”

Alex stopped for a moment to think. “Well, I don’t know,” he said, “I sleep at night. And why would a fairy need so many teeth for?”

Great, he answered my question with a question to which I had no answer. For a moment I imagined a room filled with baby teeth; the scene was pretty disgusting. So I dropped the subject. But apparently, I did not influence his views with deception.

So I called Robert next, since he would not pick up, I sent him a text message. And, even though he is twenty and studying astrophysics, I delicately asked:  “Do you ever believe in the Tooth Fairy?”

My phone was silent for quite a long time until I got a message back. Apparently, he never did either. 

After getting Robert’s response, I got a little sad that my boys did not believe in “that stuff”.  Did I do it wrong? Did they lose their teeth when they were too old already? If memory serves me well, when I was a kid, I always believed in “that stuff”!

“It’s because you are a girl, mom.” Alex took my hand to comfort me. “And that’s OK.”

…Sorry for being so silly today. Will try to be a little more substantive tomorrow…

With love always,
xo Zuma A.

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