Financial awakenings

Here’s a funny story.

Actually, it wasn’t funny at the time.  But now I can look back at it and see the funny side.  Well, not so much the funny side as the upside.  The side that made me stop and think.

A couple of weeks ago I was up in Auckland for work.  On the way home from staying with Nana and Poppa Oh Waily* I decided to change one of the places we stop for our rest breaks**.   After having a great deal of money shaken out of my wallet for the food we all headed out to the play area.  The kids enjoyed that very much. Then it came time to leave.  Ms Oh Waily vs Two Children.  That was fun.  Not.
Anyway, while I was wrangling Master Oh, Miss Oh said to me that she wanted to go “say something to the lady” – meaning the person serving at the counter.  I didn’t think too much of this as Miss Oh is very chatty and could talk the hind legs off a donkey, usually about the minutiae of daily life.  So I am attempting to get the lad away from the toys, with only minimal success, when I think that perhaps I should see what Miss Oh is actually up to.  I trot off, safe in the knowledge that the lad is ensnared in toyville, to find that Miss Oh is standing beside the counter while the serving lady is bringing her a small plate with a small gingerbread man on it.  I wonder to myself how she has managed to connive a gingerbread man out of her.  As I say, she has the gift of the gab and could wangle pretty much anything out of anyone if she set her mind to it.  Just as I am puzzled and about to ask Miss Oh what is going on, the woman hands her the plate and looks up at me – in one action – and says “she said she had money to pay for it”.

At this point the long day just got longer, darker and considerably grumpier.  I was not fast enough to refuse to pay.  By this time Miss Oh had put her mitts on the gingerbread man.  So there I was.  Stoney faced and extremely mad.  Frankly I couldn’t quite work out who I was maddest at – my apparent little fibber or the stupid woman who thought that it was okay to take the word of a four year old instead of checking with her parent first.

So a whole $1.50*** later, we have an angry Mum and an upset little girl due to the fact that she’s not getting the biscuit.  At this point I didn’t know what or who to believe.  It is quite feasible that Miss Oh could have said that she had money for the gingerbread man if she first asked for the biscuit and was questioned by the woman.  She knows money is used to buy things, but she has no connection with how it happens – other than I get out my card and pay for things when we shop.   I’m not sure what could have been running through her mind, other than “I want a gingerbread man”.  When we were in the car afterwards she said to me that she hadn’t said that she had money – but by then I was so mad she might have thought it better to lie.  I really don’t know.

So that is my funny story.  Not so funny, eh?  Two weeks later and I’m still astounded at the stupidity of the serving staff.  I didn’t even have a moment to get words out before the plate was handed over.
The epiphany that came about from this maddening moment was quite simple…

It is time to start formally teaching Miss Oh Waily about finance.

There is to be no angst in the Oh Waily household over when would be a good time to introduce the idea of pocket money.  That decision was pretty much made the minute the gingerbread man hit the plate.

So I will shortly enlighten you on our strategy for teaching financial literacy to Miss Oh.

* who had kindly minded the children while I went to work.  Thanks !
** it’s a 7 hour car journey.  Only so much of that time is spent sleeping.
*** no, it does not break the bank.  That’s not the point though, is it ?!

Today in history: 1934 – Carl Sagan was born. (American astronomer & writer)

You have to know the past to understand the present.
– Carl Sagan

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