Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Money Tree

I have been trying to instill in La Fille a sense of the value and cost of things. It started when I remonstrated with her for breaking a toy. It was a small, inexpensive object broken carelessly rather than wantonly and I might have let it go except she said: "Let's buy another one." This made me really cross, so cross I found myself trotting out that hoary parental cliché about money having to be earned and not growing on trees, which just baffled her.

Then we arrived at St Pancras station and I told La Fille I had to go to the bank to get some money. Her eyes turned as wide as saucers as a wad of used notes spewed out of the mouth of the cashpoint machine. "Wow!", was all said. I could see from her expression she thought this was some kind of magic. ("You're right Mama it doesn't grow on trees it comes out of walls".)

Today, I told La Fille I was not prepared to spend my hard-earned cash on the merry-go-round if she planned to sulk her way through every go for no apparent reason. I said this more out of principle than penury - for now at least - but after a brief reprise of my diatribe about money and arboretum she said: "Shall we go to the bank?"

Later reading newspaper reports on certain bosses of British banks and their eye-watering bonuses and pensions it made me think of La Fille's saucer-eyed reaction when my money emerged from the hole in the wall and how, apparently like some bank chiefs, she now believes there is an unlimited supply of free money in this magic machine there for the taking.

Then again, in her defence La Fille is only four years old.


Iota said...

I think it's amazing that children manage to understand about money at all. You pay in the supermarket with a plastic card, and you're offered "cash back". So you go shopping, buy stuff, and end up with more money than you had when you started. And yes, there are the holes in the wall, where you get free money. Lots of them won't ever see a bill arrive, and hardly ever a cheque written these days. It's all rather mystical, if you think about it from their point of view.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

It must really be quite strange to them. We do tend to pay in cash in most shops, as we buy lots from the market and small local shops, so R does get to see notes and coins. But she does have the same tendency to say 'We can buy a new one,' when something is broken or lost.

I was intrigued the other day, though, when we were talking about going to the circus for her next birthday. I was wondering how we could get there if her grandparents and their car weren't here, and she said 'We could make a car. A black one or a green one. Maybe.' Does she know that cars are far too expensive to just go out and buy for one trip?

Henry the Dog said...

This money business is hard for me to understand too - I've seen mum get money out of the wall, then there's the plastic she flashes when she buys the groceries, then there's stuff she does on the internet, that she calls 'internet banking'. It is SOOOO confusing.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

You daughter is at least innocent, the thieving bankers weren't!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

My kids are confused too. I am always borrowing from their pocket money. "Why can't you just ask Daddy for some more?" they say. Living in a developing country (sort of) it's a largely cash based society & no one has any change, so I am always needing small change (hence me raiding their piggy banks)

SSP said...

if the bank executives can't seem to grasp the money concept, then how do we expect children to? Great blog :-)

Working mum said...

My four year old thinks the same. It's so difficult to understand the concept when we hardly ever see the cash we earn and spend. She thinks you just clik on the laptop and stuff arrives at the house. We've starte pocket money so that she can save for things she wants, but I think she thinks the coins are toys!

Mind you, I feel a bit peeved that I've spent all my life saving and budgeting and living within my means, while others who think money grows on trees have had a great time with no consequences! Who's right?