My kids have recently discovered the value of money.
For years now they have been getting special two dollar bills and dollar coins from grandparents for their birthdays and for Christmas, but not knowing anything else to do with said items they plunked them into their piggy banks and never looked back. As they are getting older they have discovered the value of those measly dollars and the sheer delight in spending them on things that they desire.
It started by using a dollar to buy a soda or a candy bar at Safeway when we would drop by after a bike ride. Oh the pleasure of choosing your own kryptonite and not having to share it with your whiny siblings! That fairly recently morphed into bringing some coinage along on a trip to Michael's craft stores and perusing the dollar section for treasures. (Side note: rubber snakes will quickly lose their tongues and then break in half, loosing all value for the consumer and ending up in the trash with a mild case of tears for the child who chooses them.)
Now, however, these kids are on to bigger and better things. At the promise of the long anticipated trip to Target, Girl counted out her money and carefully placed thirteen dollars in her purse. Boy Two could only manage to scrape up ten dollars (still a tidy sum for a five-year-old) and Boy One a grand fourteen dollars.
At the store they waited patiently while Mama meandered through Misses Clothing before riding the elevator up to the second floor Toys section. Upon discovering that the Sleeping Beauty Play Set that Girl wanted was reduced to a mere nine dollars Girl gave the Great Sigh of "Oooooh! It's so beautiful!" and never let it out of her sight.
Not finding a suitable dinosaur, Boy Two decided to settle for some animal figures that completely wiped out his funds but at least afforded him pleasure. Boy One, scouring for airplanes, decided to save his money and wait for what he really had in mind, trusting that it would eventually be found. Which it was, later, at Michael's: a P-51 Mustang model airplane (a mere $10). We also discovered there that the animal figures purchased by Boy Two for ten dollars could have been obtained at Michael's for a mere six dollars and a little bit of waiting. Oh, well. Boy Two has only instant gratification in mind while his siblings can wait for weeks for just the right toys.
Seeing as how the children only receive $2 a month in allowance (in addition to any money they make at Grandma's house) it will be a while before another shopping trip like this. But I think it is good for them. I don't remember spending hardly any money as a child. In fact, I saved for years the necessary $85 to afford an American Girl doll, but was never sure how to go about ordering one from the catalog and therefore never had much to show for it.
This is one of the areas that intimidates me most about parenting: purposefully creating moments of learning for my children to usher them towards independence and maturity. I'm not sure that I can use those two words to describe myself so directing them towards my children seems entirely out of my grasp!