Have you ever done something that made perfect sense at the time? At each step along the way, what you were doing was the clear and right decision, but – somehow – at the end of it you looked back and thought “How the hell did I get here?”
I’m convinced this is the way our education system works. Teachers should be accountable. Good teachers should show improvement in children’s test scores. Children should be able to multiply – quickly. So far, so good. But somehow we have kids who have to do 100 multiplication problems in 2 minutes (written, not oral) or they fail second grade math. Yeah, I bet you’d fail second grade math now, too.
Honestly, it’s the way our government works, too. It seemed like a good idea to be capitalist and let the businesses govern themselves. Until we found ourselves paying for golden parachutes and feeling like we were getting golden showers in return.
But it’s the way of the world. And so I, too, find myself in one of those situations.
Let me explain.
I want my children to understand the value of money. I want my kids to be able to work together toward a common goal. And I want them to learn early to save for something big once in a while, rather than spending it on token items. (I really, really hate Pokemon cards!) Enter the “Adventure Jar”. The children have to put a fourth of their earnings into the jar, and when we have enough we go on a new adventure.
Granted the jar has been seeded by parents and grandparents alike. Loose change sometimes goes in and the children’s savings magically get bigger. Though it seems like a good idea to put the extra in and help them reach their goals, I wonder if I’m not setting them up for future disappointment when their savings don’t just grow on their own. Again, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Later, after there were a few demerits for a few choice words that were uttered a few times in school, there was another jar created – the swear jar. Again, a really good idea. We laid out what it cost to swear. The same for parents and kids, it would hurt the kids’ budget more, but that’s okay because it’s worse for a kid to be swearing. We decided some words were worse than others, and therefore cost more. It all seemed like a good idea until a friend was visiting and started to swear. My son told him about the swear jar, and rattled off the menu of prices. (okay, that doesn’t look so good in retrospect. But, wait, it gets worse.) My friend then pulled the loose change out of his pocket and asked what he could afford to say. It all worked out – my son talked him through it. What a great idea this was to help stop him from swearing!
We finally worked something out so that we didn’t spend so much time talking about swear words. And all was well. Until one day . . .
We were having a discussion about the frivolity of buying everything we liked and having nothing left over for the really cool stuff. You probably know this conversation if you have kids: you don’t have to be poor to not be able to afford some things. There are more cool things in the world than most of us will ever have the money for and we need to not nickel-and-dime ourselves out of the big stuff. Then I had to explain the whole ‘nickel and dime’ idea. Which prompted “Like the swear jar?” which prompted ‘what does the money in the swear jar go towards?’
We didn’t know. It was just there. Gathering.
So the kids thought they should save for something really big. I had mentioned that we could eat at restaurants a lot and buy a new toy each week, but then we wouldn’t have enough money left to, say, go to Disney World.
That was it! It was decided. And it all seemed like a good idea. The Adventure and Swear Jars would be combined, because then we would have greater savings! (Perfectly reasonable) The Adventures we had in the past (Glow Golf, sushi, the Aquarium, laser tag) had been fun but small. We should aim for something bigger. (Wow! My kids are setting bigger savings goals, I’m so proud!)
And that is how I found myself swearing my way to a big adventure.
What can I say?
I’m @#$%ing going to Disney World.
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