I love my little man very much. Sometimes he has a one track mind. Right now his track is stuck on quarters. He wants them in the worst way. To Chet, quarters equal gumballs! Chet likes gumballs more than he likes quarters. He will happily trade a quarter for a gumball. He will trade anything for a quarter.
Today he really wanted to Save the World! He needed his sister's red crystal hairpin to do it. She bought it at a rummage sale last summer for a quarter. As much as he wanted to save the world and as much as he needed the red crystal hairpin to do it, he just couldn't see himself clear to give up the quarter he had to buy the world saving hairpin from his sister. "But I need this quarter for a gumball" he wailed.
After much explaining on my part about equity, fairness and reciprocity, Chet came up with an answer to the problem on his own. He ran to the kitchen, pulled a chair up to the counter, and found Daddy's change bowl. In a spirit of generosity, he fished out two quarters, and used them to pay his sister. With the red crystal hairpin in hand, he ran into the living room, and was back within seconds, declaring the world officially saved.
This is typical of wealth redistribution in our house. Chet has no qualms about helping himself, and it eventually filters down to Grace. Sometimes she is patient about the process, other times - not so much. The rule at our house is any change found on the floor is free for all - finders keepers. Any change I find on the floor I put in Joni's piggy bank. Grace and Chet put their found wealth in their own special hiding places. Chet uses his sock drawer and Grace has a re-purposed sour cream container.
Grace knows enough to realize that quarters are best, but pennies, dimes and nickels will do the trick in sufficient quantity. Chet, as he just rambled in to explain, only likes quarters. They equal gumballs. No matter how many dimes and nickels he has, they can't get him a gumball out of the machine at the grocery store. So there you have it - the economics of toddlerhood.
Now, one way to solve the obvious problems with our household economy would be to give the children allowances. Then Grace wouldn’t have to rely on Chet’s thievery to get money, and Chet could have the pleasure of buying his gumballs with his own carefully saved quarters. Ok – honestly Chet thinks procession is nine tenths of the law. The quarters he has, no matter how acquired, are his because he has them. So I think the lessons an allowance would teach might be lost on him, and it certainly wouldn’t be as fun for him as hunting and gathering is. But Grace would LOVE it, and some of her excitement will certainly rub off on Chet.
To be honest, Grace having become big enough for an allowance sort of snuck up on me. She is nearly NINE now!! When did that happen? Of course she wants to buy things. And she needs to learn how money works for sure. For most of the last three or four years we have been too broke to offer an allowance. In fact any birthday or Christmas money that came her way inevitably ended up buying groceries or gas – sad but true. I don’t feel too bad about it though. I’m the old fashioned type that believes children should contribute in any way they can to their family. If that means sharing birthday money – so be it. (More on that later.)
Chet just came in and asked me to print a quarter out. Quarters are minted I explained. “Oh Mom, you got a printer, just print a quarter out.” Seems I have a lot of money training to do.