Wednesday, September 22, 2010

He's too cute for jail



One would think he was talking about the Hope Diamond.

“They are the most awesome things I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” my five-year-old son waxed poetic after school one afternoon in excitement. “They are shiny and cool and AWESOME!”

“Yes,” I nodded in agreement, “but they cost $50.”
 
He ignored my comment and continued, “They light up and EVERYTHING!”
 
“Yes,” I nodded in agreement and repeated, “but they cost $50.”
 
He wrinkled his little blonde brows into a furrow and responded, “How much is $50?”
I laughed, “About $48 more than you have in your piggy bank.”
 
“Rats,” he mumbled in disappointment from the back seat.
 
But a simple matter of poverty had no effect on the little guy. For the remainder of the day, Tom Sawyer Baldwin took every opportunity to talk us into buying the shoes for him.
 
I finally cracked after hour #4.
 
“Listen up,” I said curtly. “It’s not your birthday. It’s not a holiday. So there is no way on God’s green earth your dad and I are buying you a $50 pair of shoes for no reason whatsoever.”
 
He opened his mouth to reply, but before he popped out another word I put up my hand to stop him and said, “That’s spending $10 on a shoe for every year you’ve been alive. That’s like me spending…oh…yikes.”
 
Doing that kinda of math was both difficult and embarrassing. “Uh, let’s just say I don’t have enough money in MY piggy bank for that kind of purchase.”
 
He stomped off in a huff with our Golden Retriever puppy trailing happily in his wake, oblivious to his sour mood.
 
I shouted after him, “Welcome to the real world, kiddo. It sucks.”
 
The dog must have thought I said “ducks” because she whipped around, tore back down the stairs and ran up to me in excitement. “DUCKS? WHERE?” her chocolate brown eyes shone, “Can I eat one?!”
 
My son’s only response was the slamming of his bedroom door.
 
The ungrateful little monster. Suddenly a roof over his head isn’t good enough, huh? Food on the table. Clean clothes to wear every day. Nice warm bed to sleep in. Video games and a lifetime supply of peanut butter. Not good enough?
 
Selfish little bugger.
 
Then a thought suddenly struck me, and I blanched. My mother was right! We CAN’T have everything we want!
 
I remember those days. Wanting something so badly, I would scream and cry and act like…well, an ungrateful little monster.
 
Sigh.
 
It was time to make deal.
 
“OK, here’s how it’s gonna go,” I said, sitting down beside him on his bed where he had chosen to sulk the day away. “If you want those shoes, you’ll have to earn the money to buy them yourself.”
 
He sighed and answered, “How long will that take?”
 
I shrugged, “It depends on how hard you work.”
 
So I scheduled some new tasks he could help with around the house, set a more-than-generous wage and made him promise not to unionize with the dog. By the time we finished negotiating, he was more excited than the time he saw Santa Claus at Kwickie Mart.
 
On a Tuesday.
 
In July.
 
But the excitement lasted all of 45 minutes.
 
He walked into my bedroom, sighed loudly and flopped on the bed. “I wish we had a color printer,” he said.
 
I raised an eyebrow and said, “We do. Why?”
 
He rolled over and said, “So I could print my own money and buy those shoes faster.”
 
Oh. Dear. God.
 
Part of me wanted to laugh at his crafty resourcefulness.
 
The other part wanted to find the nearest lawyer and put him on retainer.
 
‘Cuz chances are we’re gonna need one in the future.
 
I patted my son on the back in sympathy and said, “Well, our federal government prints money like it’s going out of style, but — unfortunately — they get a little grouchy when we mere peasants attempt to do the same.”
 
He shot me a look that clearly stated he thought I was insane, so I tried again. “We can’t print our own money, kiddo. That’s called counterfeiting, and it’s against the law. We’d go to jail.” I smiled at him, “And you’re too cute for jail.”
 
He processed that for a moment then answered, “But we’ll only go to jail if we get caught, right?”
 
Oh. Dear. God.

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