Oh crap, it’s payday.
Normally payday makes me happy, even though I never actually lay eyes on said pay (one fairly sizable auto-deposit followed by a series of pre-arranged transfers and debits, including an on-line payment to the credit card company who handles all spending on my behalf and all…).
Lately, however, we’ve (and by “we”, I mean “I”) have been paying allowance to our kids. They don’t get paid to do their chores, per se, although they have started doing more little things around the house, as part of their responsibility to the family (a little phrase I’ve introduced to slowly indoctrinate them into domestic slavery). In recognition of this, and also to teach them a little bit about the value of money and how to handle it, we I have instituted allowance.
The 6-year-old gets a crisp-or-not-so-crisp five dollar bill every 2 weeks, and the 4-year-old officially gets a toonie, augmented by a loonie when she has stickers all over the calendar, representing whatever little success for which we need to reward her at any given moment. The beauty of my 4-year-old, though, is that she really doesn’t have a clue about the value of money, so if I’m short a loonie, I can get away with putting together whatever little pile of coins I can scrounge up from sofa cushions and last-spring jacket pockets and she’ll be happy as a little clam. For about 23 seconds, until she forgets all about the money and starts playing with my shoes or something.
My six year old would never let me get away with such scandalous dishonesty. I have to actually pay her what I said I would pay her. Bi-weekly. I opted for bi-weekly on purpose, to match with my paydays. That way, so the theory goes, I wouldn’t forget. Growing up, my sisters and I received allowance, except my parents often forgot to give it to us. To this day I’m not sure if they were just busy, or if it was really going to be to much of a financial challenge to come up with the 75 cents that would be required to pay us off. We really were that poor. As far as I can remember, my sisters either asked right out for their money (and got it), or else didn’t really think too much about it. But I, yes, I the young one, the sensitive one, the fiscally responsible one, never forgot allowance day. But I never had the heart to ask for my money, fearing that my demand would send the whole family headlong into the poor house. How I wanted that coin. How I wanted to march off to the corner store to buy a PEP bar and a bottle of coke, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask; couldn’t bring myself to hear that my mother just didn’t have the money that day.
When I first considered paying my children an allowance, one thing I told myself was that I would not forget. They would be paid, on time, and in full, every week without their having to ask. I want them to know that I keep my promises. I believe that if I keep my word on the small things, they will know they can always depend on me for the big things too. But of course, in my cashless world, I have to make an effort to have the money on hand to pay them. And today I don’t. I spent my last few paper dollars over the weekend, and never thought to go to the bank. So, crap. It’s payday and I have to decide whether I want to ignore it (just until tomorrow, mind you), or own up to the fact that I’ve got to issue a rain check.
Or maybe I’ll get lucky digging around in the sofa.