Dave is halfway across the country, and it is weird. In the entirety of our marriage we’ve never spent more than two nights away from each other. Subsisting now on texts and the occasional phone call is… well, it’s just weird.
It’s also busy. I have always known that I have no desire to be a single parent, so nothing about this last couple of weeks has been a surprise, exactly. So far the plans I made have been workable, and I am just barely managing to get in enough work hours, and still (usually) cook food for the children. The house is not as clean as it has been sometimes, but so what?
The boys are so capable that they are hardly any trouble. In fact, they’ve been enjoying the more relaxed house-cleaning schedule, and the fact that we’ve been indulging in recipes which dropped off our rotation once Dave could no longer eat them. We had a dinner comprised entirely of egg rolls one night.
Apparently on the theory that if a little change is good, more is better, I will be starting a new job next week as well. It’s an excellent change and I’m looking forward to it; the fact that our family is currently one parent down is just a bit inconvenient.
Life is not all sunshine and roses for Dave either. The migraine clinic he is at does not fool around; he has classes and new treatments nearly every day, as they try to help him a) pin down what might be exacerbating his head, and b) learn techniques to manage the pain. But it’s good that we’re doing this, and I’m hopeful that it will make all of our lives better.
Nathan recently posted an animation to his YouTube channel that I wanted to share. He scripted it, got Dave to serve as the voice actor, and animated it all within a few hours. We’ve all watched it multiple times — it doesn’t hurt that it’s only 13 seconds long.
Recently our family finished a long and (for me) fairly boring game of Monopoly. (This has never been my favorite game, and I tried hard and unsuccessfully to go bankrupt early.) Afterwards I listened to Ryan and Mica working together to make up their own game with the Monopoly money.
What caught my ear was when Ryan told his sister, “This is capitalism, so one person gets all the money.”
“Why do you think that in capitalism one person gets all the money?” I asked him.
“Because it’s the opposite of communism,” he told me.
At times like these I often find myself floundering — not because I have no thoughts on the topic, but because there’s so much to unpack. Do I point out the difference between communism and socialism? Try to put both capitalism and communism into historical context? Dig deeper into where he heard this, so I can better understand his (vague) conceptual framework? And how much will fit into a 9-year-old attention span? So far his interest in money seems limited in scope to how much is in his bank.
I tried pointing out a few of the many points that came to mind, but I’m not sure I made much impact on his view of disparate economic theories. He was very busy buying things from his sister.
Last summer I performed what was, in retrospect, a somewhat rash experiment.
I’d been trying various tactics, without success, to impress upon the boys the advantage of saving some of their money. Their allowance each week seemed to disappear almost immediately into video game assets or treats; occasionally they would save up their money for a few weeks, with a specific objective in mind, but once they’d achieved their goal, all saving ceased. I wasn’t actually certain that it was important they save (although I did like the idea of less sugar going into their bodies). I remember well enough how little I cared, at that age, about future financial security. Still, I couldn’t help pressing them a bit to save at least a little.
Finally I decided to try a different experiment. I told the boys that whatever money they had saved at the end of the year, I would give them a 50% return on.
Honestly, I felt fairly safe making this promise. I had seen so little saving ability in them that I was pretty sure how it would play out. They would try to save; be tempted by something; decide that the end of the year was really far away; buy whatever-it-was; and resolve to start saving now for the rest of the year. This cycle would repeat until sometime in December, when there would be some last-minute saving.
And for Ryan, that’s exactly what happened. He’s younger, and he’s always had more trouble with the marshmallow experiment. For months he absolutely intended to start saving his money, as soon as he bought that next whatever-it-was.
But I completely failed to understand where Nathan was.
Yesterday we opened bank accounts for both boys. Ryan seriously debated doing it, decided not to, changed him mind at the last minute, and finally deposited a total of $25 in his account. This is a decent amount of saving for him, but to be fair, it’s less than he received for Christmas. Nathan had no such hesitations, and his account beat out Ryan’s by a good hundred dollars — nor was that all his money. I will therefore be paying out a serious chunk of change come January 1st.
It remains to be seen how things will change when the incentive goes away. I’ve already warned them that I won’t be repeating this experiment.
I am pretty happy with gingerbread house kits. Some part of me still feels vaguely that I ought to bake my own gingerbread and make my own frosting, but most of me is quite happy to have everything come in a box.
And the kids, of course, don’t really care. They like icing, candy, sticking candy onto the house with icing, and eating the leftover candy.
They did quite a bit of the decoration — for example, the tree on the roof was their idea. After they lost interest I added a few details like the lights along the edge of the roof. But overall everyone seemed happy with the activity, and the house survived intact for nearly four hours before brightly colored bits began to be filched. Within two days it was looking quite a bit sorrier.
When Ryan started boring into the walls with a knife, I made good on my promise to toss it out.