We were at the super market the other day. The shopping had been done and we were at the billing counter. As usual, the cart kept throwing up surprises after surprises. Two packets of cream biscuits. Two packets of instant noodles. Four big chocolate packs. Two Frooti packs. Chewing gums. And some such assorted stuff which we adults hadn’t in the first place noticed on the shelves. It had to be the two little ones’ prank.
Now, this was the tricky juncture. I had to give away part of these assortments back to the super market guys without making the children throw tantrums that would bring the roof down. And, I had no clue how to. So, I just put back the stuff on the shelves, with wailing kids looking at me as if I had just turned into a gargantuan monster. Not to forget, the sighs and ich-ichs of the on-looking public. All the while, I kept reminding myself that I had to get back home and talk to the kids about money; that is, when they would be ready to lend me a ear.
By the end of the day, the event faded in our memories slowly; but I made sure to hold back to the scene at the store so that my talk can have an impact on the kids. How do I explain the concept of value of money to kids who haven’t even turned four? Is it, as my mother puts it, a problem of plenty? Even if there is aplenty, shouldn’t they know where/how it all comes from? Questions were rushing through my mind like a stream which had no outlet to go.
The end of the day came. It was time for our bed-time story. All three of us sat down. My daughter. Son. And, me. I decided to confront the little minds.
Now.. Tell me.. Why did you throw a tantrum at the super market? I got you enough biscuits and chocolates, didn’t I?
You did, Amma. But, we still wanted more.
Right. But, we had only so much money with which I could get only so many biscuits and chocolates.
But, Appa could’ve just gone to the shop where they sold money and got some more, right? (My son was referring to the ATM here!)
Of course. But there is no money in that shop ‘cos Appa and Amma have no more money.
What did you do with all the money?
We have to pay for so many things other than buying chocolates. Like, the electricity we get at our home. If we don’t give them money, we will not get power and we have to stay in the dark. Ok.. May be, from the next month onward, I shall not pay the electricity bills. Then, would you like to stay in the dark and eat a lot of chocolates, instead?
It was a chorus scream. My children stopped asking any more questions. I could see their minds were working overtime to combat that explanation. I patted myself mentally. They’d understood a little bit about money. That, money is not just meant for buying stuff that they need and there are other priorities too. There I was sitting beside them and heaving a sigh of relief.
I know the battle has not been won; in fact it has just begun. But, I am happy I could make a start.
Mamma -1; Kids – 0.
Indu is a dreamer by nature; a (former) chartered accountant by profession; and a writer by passion. Her life right now, revolves around her four year old twin boy and girl. The two naughty siblings love to play their pranks on her every day, making her both smile and wince at once. She loves to leave a trail of her life at her blog here.