Thursday, December 3, 2015

They've Both Got Layers

Medium Fry didn't really care about money when she was little - I'm still not sure she really does - so money has been pretty useless to me as a motivational/parenting tool for a long time. Having been thus trained for so many years, it didn't even occur to me that Small Fry might have a different perspective on the matter. It actually took me quite a while to figure out that he was really interested in money. Really interested. Like, desperately-racking-his-little-brain-trying-to-find-ways-to-get-money sort of interested. I don't know how long I was missing out on this, exactly, but it took several separate incidents for me to piece it all together:

First, he kept pestering me to let him take his big U-magnet to the park.

Then, he kept pestering me to let him "look at" vending machines and payphones.

Then, he kept pestering DH and I about whether we wanted to drink any more beer or wine.

In retrospect, he had obviously thought long and hard about potential fundraising avenues, but as I've said before, it sometimes takes a bit of interpretation before his motives become fully clear. He has apparently had success with both the magnet and vending machine searches in the past (something I was not previously aware of), and he gets the proceeds from sorting the refundables out of the recycling so it was pretty obvious to him where the big bucks were coming from on that front.

Now that you know these were ways he was trying to find more money, it all makes perfect sense, right? But it was only when Small Fry became visibly frustrated over DH declining to have a beer one morning that it came together for me: Oooohhh! This kid needs an allowance!

There is a ton of advice out there for how to give your kids allowance. As with most things in life, I have ignored it and done what I thought was a good idea instead. I'll spare you the details, except to say that I developed what I'm calling the "Slurpee Index" for how much allowance I decided to start the kids out with: after savings and donations, it's nice for a little kid to be able to buy her/himself a Slurpee. That's a pretty tangible benefit every week when you're seven. Bonus: the philosophy roughly parallels my own spending, which is allocated based on the "Pedicures and Nice Lunches Index", so it's totally defensible.

Small Fry was thrilled with the magical concept of allowance. ("You mean I get this EVERY WEEK?! Squeeee!") I explained what allowance was and that he would be able to buy a Slurpee if he wanted to, then I handed him his money and figured he would be off to 7-11 like a shot. But once again, he surprised me with further revelations from his onion-like little soul: he wasn't going to buy a Slurpee at all. He was going to save his money. The real reason he had racked his brains for ways to get money - his one true motivation in life and dedicated savings goal - is not Slurpees at all...

It's Lego.

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