Plum wanted to download a new game on my iPad, I said no. He said please, I said no. I explained that he already has many games to play, they cost money which is in short supply right now, I saw no reason to add one. His pleas continued as he touted the supreme advantages of this one, the ultimate game. He offered to delete other ones. Finally I told him that if he wanted to spend his money on it that would be fine. I was not spending any more of mine on games. That usually settles the discussion. He never wants to spend his money, his piggy bank only accepts deposits. In fact a spare coin laying around the house doesn’t lay neglected long if Plum is here. Birthday money goes in, chore money, all pushed through the little slot.
I have used a fining system to curb some behavior, charging a nickel for each time he hollered, “FINE” at me. I don’t enjoy being yelled at, espousing the philosophy that the only time you should holler in your home is if there is a fire. Once I added a financial value to his sassy mouth, it ended. I value respect, he values his nickels. The little business man in him decided to charge me for inappropriate behavior, 3 nickels since I am an adult and should know better. I have to be careful what I teach this child. Fortunately I have only had to pay up once.
I thought asking him to dig into his riches would be enough to stop the conversation, instead he asked me to look to see how much the game costs. $4.99, a fortune for a child who doesn’t want to give up $.05. Aha, I won, I reveled in my wisdom, my amazing handling of this situation. Those rare moments of getting it right with a child, the orchestra strikes up, standing on the stage of the 1,000 seat theater, all the lights trained on me as I accept the award for Outstanding Parent. Oh it felt great. The sound of little feet racing up the stairs broke through my dreaming. He was already gone and back, waving a fiver at me, before I could catch my breath. Nothing left to do but download the game as the band slunk away, the lights snapped off, the award ripped from my grasp.
Later during bath time, some of our best chatting time, I asked if he thought the game was a good investment. He stood by his purchase. He said he saves his money for things he really wants, not all the things that tug at his brain. He ignores those. He is a wise child. I could hear the band playing, this boy gets the award for financial responsibility at almost 6, one he could teach many adults. The game is a battling one, it insults my peace seeking soul. As he regaled me in tales of all his exploits, I inquired whether he wouldn’t be more successful if he just made friends with all the villagers, the creatures? Shaking his head, with the voice of an old soul, he chuckled and replied “Oh gran, why do you have such a sweet heart?”
We learn from each other, this child and I. The lessons I think I am teaching bear fruit later, rarely in the moment. I am smart enough to grab the nuggets of his knowledge as they appear. He is the ultimate award, his sweet voice the only music I ever need. He brings light, he brings joy, he sneaks coins. This round goes to Plum, thank goodness we don’t keep score. As a grandma I have to restrain myself from sneaking the fiver back into his bank. As his most trusted adult, I know I can’t. Anyway, his birthday is just around the corner. Grandmas always give birthday cards containing a five dollar bill, right?