I always promised myself that I wouldn’t turn into one of those people who follow their kids around saying things like: “Do you have any idea how much that costs?” Of course, I also promised myself I wouldn’t turn into one of those parents who wipe off their kids’ noses with their own shirt-tail, and that, no matter what, my house would always be the “cool” hangout. As it is, my kids are lucky if their noses are the only thing that gets wiped with a shirt-tail, and unless “all the tap water you can drink” is the new “cool,” my house has fallen so far down the list that it doesn’t even register on the “Cool-o-meter” anymore. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that my vows concerning not harping on money didn’t work out, either.
In fact, not only have I not managed to avoid saying things like “Do you realize how long I had to work to earn enough money to buy those shoes?” I instead say them so often that I frequently remind myself of Bob Barker on The Price is Right. This is when I’m not reminding myself of Monty Hall on Let’s Make a Deal. (“Do you want to find out what’s behind door #1-Clyde’s room, door #2-Clementine’s room, or door #3-their shared bathroom? Not that it really matters–your chances are much higher of finding *A Brand New Stain!* than *A Brand New Car!* in any case.)
The worst part of it is that I haven’t received any noticeable benefit from breaking yet another one of my own rules; on the contrary, my constant recital of the consumer price index has not done my children (or my bank account) one bit of good. Where Clyde is concerned this may be because the only thing that matters to him about money is the quantity of it: he thinks that our bulging penny jar makes us the richest people around. (This is something Clementine picked up on fairly early; unless we intervene she has been known to use this knowledge to slowly suck Clyde’s savings away from him one coin at a time with the old “I’ll give you these two pennies for that one quarter,” routine.)
And yet, despite her savvy when it comes to the low level world of piggy bank arbitrage, Clementine herself remains as blissfully ignorant as Clyde when it comes to the true cost of things. Princesses and pop stars could probably do a better job then the two of them at guessing the real cost of a gallon of milk (of course, that could be because of all the binging and purging they do, but still). Clementine, on the other hand, still doesn’t understand why I practically go into convulsions every time she casually splashes a quart of milk onto her morning cereal, takes two bites, and then pours the whole thing down the garbage disposal, only to repeat the process every twenty minutes or so until she no longer feels hungry (or until I throw myself bodily in front of the fridge–whichever comes first).
I’ve tried to explain it to her by asking her to see it from my perspective: how would she feel if she had ten dollar bills in her room, and every morning I went in, took one, blew my nose on it and then threw it in the trash? Doesn’t she think that she, too would get a bit irate?
Of course, the only result of this little parable was to convince her that she needed to be even more diligent about hiding her money from me; after all, I obviously have some unresolved issues with money and mucus.
Actually, she may have a point there; after all, there has to be some sort of an explanation for all those shirt-tails.