There are two phrases that come out of a child’s mouth that have been known to strike fear into the wallets of parents: “Oops” and “We should.” “Oops” because it usually follows such acts as stepping on a sibling’s glasses, dropping a retainer off the edge of the Grand Canyon, or leaving the cage door open when feeding the pet snake–all actions guaranteed to cost a parent money. (Not, in the last example, because you have to replace the snake, but because you have to replace the wall that the snake will eventually crawl behind and die). “We should”, however, is a trickier one; it doesn’t mean that money absolutely will be spent, but rather that whining about money is about to commence. Sometimes–usually–it also means that completely ridiculous whining about money is about to commence as well.
An example of this is when, after staggering through three airports, seven security lines, and a customs line that looks like the entire population of a Caribbean island has just deplaned ahead of you, your child turns to you and says in disdain, “We should really get our own plane.”
At first you ignore this comment, concentrating instead on swearing at the luggage cart dispenser, but the child persists. “Why don’t we?”
Finally, the luggage cart fairy grants your wish; you can now turn to the child and start swearing at them instead. “One, because I don’t know how to fly a plane, and two, because planes cost a lot of money.”
“You could learn.”
“True–but that doesn’t change the fact that planes cost a lot of money.”
“So use your credit card.”
Sigh. This conversation again. No matter how many times you try and explain it, your words will never have precedence over the magic trick they see performed every time you put your debit card into an ATM and money comes flying out. Still, you try anyway.
“I’d have to pay for it eventually. With money I still wouldn’t have.”
Now the child is rolling her eyes. She can’t believe how slow parents can be sometimes. “So get a job.”
“I have a job!”
“Then get a better one.”
Great; now she’s channeling your mother.
“Look, I don’t know how else to put this: we’re not getting a plane. I realize that this is a great disappointment to you, but what can I say? You go to war with the parents you have.”
“That makes no sense.”
Mercifully, the resentful silence lasts all the way through the rest of the airport, and you begin to think that maybe the “we should’s” have gotten left back at customs. Of course, as long as you’re fantasizing, why not include all of the other unwanted baggage that you might have left back at customs as well–like all that new vacation weight–because as soon as your child realizes that she still has to carry her own luggage the “we should’s” come swooping back with a vengeance, and she looks over at you with disdain once more, saying, with a sigh:
“You know, we really should get our own butler.”