Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The going rate: $2

I knew it before, yet it was reinforced again tonight. I have a very tender-hearted son. He is such a gift, sweet to the core.


It all started when Padraic watched as I paid a bill online with a few mouse clicks and then checked my Excel spreadsheets to see how the family budget was faring. Learning much about money values in school, Padraic spoke up when he saw all the dollar amounts on the screen and he began to read them.

"You did not really pay them money," Padraic told me, speaking of the bill I had just paid online. "You would have to send them a check for that."

I thought that a little lesson in how the banking system worked was in order. I got out some cash I had on hand, my bank debit card and my checkbook. The lesson involved teaching him how each worked and the systems behind them. The lesson moved onto the family budget I had before me on the spreadsheets; how much I paid for each bill, what the total of all the monthly bills amounted to and how much was left over for things like groceries, clothes and toys. After that, the lesson flowed onto where did that money come from.

"From the bank," Padraic replied.


Surely, from the bank, but how does the money get in the bank? He was perplexed. This brought us into a discussion about The Painter; how daddy goes to work, no, not for free; his boss pays him money to work all day and do a good job. Daddy then takes that money and deposits it into our bank  so the bank can keep it there for us.

"Daddy is lucky," I said. "He gets paid for his work. No one pays me," I said.

"But, Mom, you don't work."

Gasp! Yes, the poor child really said that to me. Let me enlighten the boy.

"What is this? I don't work? Who do you think takes care of you and your brother all day? Who cooks all the meals for you? I'm a chef, you eat at my restaurant and you don't ever pay me."

His little eyes grow rounder and rounder as I talk.

"Who do you think does all the cleaning and laundry and shopping around here? How about teaching? I teach you things all the time. Does your teacher at school get paid to teach you all day? You bet she does! Yet, no one ever pays me to teach you.

"But you know what? I do get paid. I get paid in love," I tell him as I hug him tight. "I get paid in hugs and kisses and love to be your mother and do all those other things."


At dinner, this same night, I cooked a meal and we all had eaten it. As I was cleaning up, I asked Padraic if he was going to pay his bill now. Owen, the little one, quickly handed me his imaginary money as payment. As I held out my hand for Padraic's imaginary money too, his eyes brightened up and he asked how much I charged for his dinner. $2, I told him. He scurried off and promptly came back with a $2 bill he had been saving in his wallet for a long time.

"Here, Mom. I want you to have some money. I can't pay you all the time. But sometimes, I will."