Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Teaching the Wrong Lesson

Johnny asked for a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble for his birthday. We got him that and his frog. And the crickets. And the cricket keeper, cricket food, and cricket hydrating gel.

The certificate was for $20. He went straight for the grownup science section, where he zeroed in on several $50 books with pictures of volcanos on the front. Finally, he picked up a softcover book with a funny looking monkey on the front. It was $25.

I wanted to teach him a lesson about sticking to a budget.

When I saw the incredulous look on Justin's face later when I told him about it, I realized I made a mistake.

"You wouldn't give him the $5?" Justin asked.

No. Instead, I told Johnny that if he got that book, he'd have to pay me the extra $7 when we got home.

"But it's only $25," Johnny said.

"You have to pay taxes, though," I said.

"What are taxes?" he asked.

"That's what you pay the government."

"I have to pay the government?"

He started to cry. "Why do I have to pay the government?"

Great. Not only was I doing this all wrong. Now I couldn't turn back. I didn't want to promote throwing fits at a store.

He stopped crying.

As we left the section, he kissed the book and said, "I love you," (to the book, not me.)

"So you're going to pay the $7?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

This surprised me. Johnny held lemonade stands and art sales just to fill his penny bank. I'd sooner try parting the Red Sea than Johnny from his money. (I wonder where he got that from?)

Richie wanted to look at Superhero books, so we went to the kids section.

Johnny loudly remarked, "I bought a SCIENCE book. But my brother wants to go the kids' section!"

As if everyone in the store was thinking, "Why on earth are those three little kids headed for the children's books? They must not be very smart."

As though the other customers were following our every move anyway. (I wonder where he got that from.)

Lo and behold, across from the X-Men and Superman books, were kids' science books. All for $19 or less. He chose the biggest kids encyclopedia he could find.

"I choose you," he said, kissing it. "And I'll see you--" (kissing the $25 book) "on Christmas Eve."

I guess he's going to ask Santa for it. He's not a cheapo like mom.

Then he held up his gift card.

"What do you want to do?" he asked it.

"I want you to spend me," the gift card said, sounding a lot like Johnny.

At check out, the total came to $20 and change. I dug out the coins from my purse and joked with Johnny, "You owe me. Big time."

He whipped his head around. "How much?" he asked.

Sometimes you try to teach one lesson but inadvertantly teach another. I wanted to teach Johnny to stick to a budget. Be happy with what he had. Find something in his price range.

Instead, I probably taught him to be an Ebeneezer Scrooge. I'm sure when he grows up, I'll get a $27 birthday gift and a bill for the $7 he went over the budget.


Blogger Sondra said...

You crack me up Bridget!! Another gem. I bet that the boys will love having these stories when they are older.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous pat said...

How funny! We try to teach many lessons in our children's lives that we later wish we had lightened up on, but seeing you today, I don't think it hurts anything in the long run! You're doing great!! You have great boys!!!!

6:18 AM  

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