So, as I mentioned in a previous post, the Little Dude has been saving. Saving up his money. For Lego naturally. He probably asks me about twice a week if we can buy a new Lego kit. And I pretty much always say "Nope, not today. Because we really only get new Lego on your birthday or Christmas and since it is not one of those days today, we will not be buying a Lego kit." And still, he asks. And asks. Hope springs eternal.
I wanted to give him a way to get a Lego kit though, that did not involve him feeling entitled to our family's income for his toy purchasing purposes. For that way lies madness. And I also am not sure I want to give him an allowance just yet. Still trying to work out the right way to do that (do they get allowance for doing chores, or does that make them feel like they should always get paid to do chores, which they would do normally as part of the family - that's the current debate in parenting circles) so I don't want to jump in and set a precedent I'd later like to change. Also, I wanted to give him a way to earn money that gave him control over how much or how little, based on the work he puts into it. So what I decided on was to let him sell cookies at the market alongside me. I'd make one batch of cookie dough each week that was marked for his use. Then he cut out and decorated the cookies. This was the part where he did the 'work'. Though of course, I supervised it, as he is only five years old. Then, we put those cookies out at the market and priced them at 75 cents each. And of that 75 cents, he'd get to keep 50 cents of it as his profit (ingredients aren't free you know) which he could choose to spend or save as he saw fit. At first his big plan was to buy a Ninjago kit. A very large Ninjago kit that cost $80. After his first week of sales netted him $5.50, he almost ran right out to the store to blow it all on minifigs. But I reminded him about the big kit that he wanted and he decided to keep saving his money and into the piggy bank it went.
The next week of sales made him about $8, and we did the math and added it up and he was very pleased with his little pile of bills and coins. "Can I buy my new set now?" he asked. So we crunched the numbers together again and saw that we would have to save for several more weeks to be able to afford an eighty dollar kit. We spent a little time browsing on the internet at the Lego site, and he soon became fixated on a different and much more affordable set from the new Lone Ranger series, that was about $25. We did some more math and figured out that if we made a good big batch of cookies next week and did not break or eat any in advance (a common problem that affects his bottom line significantly) then we might be able to afford it after next week.
And so, finally the weekend arrived. His brightly sprinkled cookies were laid out fetchingly on a cute vintage plate with a turquoise blue rim, and placed right at the front edge of the table where kid's (our target market) would be able to see them clearly. Mommy has worked in retail long enough to know a thing or two about product placement and display. And what's more, the Little Dude made a good effort at talking his product up when people were interested. He's not quite as extroverted/shameless as I was at his age (I was a heckuva chocolate almond school fundraiser seller back in the day) but he did try, and I was very proud of how he worked up the courage to talk to people about how the cookies were good and what he planned to use the money he earned from them to buy. Though, really, he does not need much encouragement to talk about Lego. He will talk about Lego to anybody.
And as we started to pack up our wares at the end of the morning, he had a moment of acute stress when he saw that all of his cookies had not sold. "Did we need to sell them all mom? To have enough money for my Lego?" he asked, on the verge of tears. I assured him that it would probably be ok, he'd just have to be paitient and wait till we got home to count our money, and then see what our final profit was. He bit his lip and waited.
And at home, sitting at the kitchen table we did our reckoning and found that he had made a whopping $13. I counted it out to him in loonies and fives, and we opened his piggy bank and together added it up... to Twenty Six Dollars and Fifty Cents! Enough for the longed for kit. I was dead on my feet so he'd been warned in advance that we would not be shopping for his kit that day (as Mommy needed a nap!) but then Daddy came home from work and offered to take him right then to the toy store. And really, you could not imagine a more excited little boy. We carefully counted his money into a new, made by mamma Star Wars wallet, and off they went.
And here is the happy chap himself. Lego set chosen and all ready to go. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the Lone Ranger franchise, but I haven't seen the movie yet myself, so I can't be too critical of it in any informed way. Let's just say I'm not entirely comfortable about their casting choices. That being said, it is a kit that contains two Native American minifigs, which will make our minifig collection more ethnically diverse and hopefully open doors for good conversations/learning about less visible cultures around us. Also, as the Little Dude points out, it has THREE scorpions. And also a CANOE! He's really, really excited about that canoe for some reason.
I wonder if this will be a memorable experience for him? I sure can remember counting up my coins as a child, and putting them in my little plastic wallet and carrying them off to the toy store to buy a particularly longed for toy. As a parent, of course I'm hoping that he learns something about the value of money and where it comes from and what it feels like to earn it yourself. Reading over this post it all might seem a little capitalistic. I certainly did not spend time when I was pregnant, fantasising about teaching him how to earn money one day. Its not exactly the stuff of mommy-daydreams. But that's one of the funny/weird things about being a parent. You actually have to teach them about EVERYTHING. Not just the stuff that is fun or interesting to you. You end up having long weird conversations that you'd never have imagined about strange things like what a soul looks like, or what the purpose of pubic hair is (two separate conversations thank goodness) and then also about how much dirt one can safely ingest and why Daddy has to go to work sometimes and then other times its Mommy that goes to work. Anyhow, my point is that no matter how you feel about it, money is part of your life and you end up having to teach your kid about it. Because whether we like it or not, we all end up needing to buy stuff.