Saturday’s trip to the grocery store provoked a yearning in Nora’s little heart. Three and a half feet off the ground at the edge of the candy aisle, she spotted a colorfully packaged pumpkin carving set.
“Mommy! Can we get this? This is for kids! I can carve pumpkins!”
“Oh, let me look at it,” I feigned interest. “Oh, my. That is neat. But I tell you what, we might be able to get a better price on that somewhere else. Let’s tell daddy about it when we get home and see if he’s knows a better place to get something like that.”
Nora trusts her daddy’s judgment on all things related to sharp implements. So she nodded bravely and we carried on shopping.
The next morning Nora was playing with the display of gourds on our table and looking forward to pumpkin carving when she got all excited and ran to Ben.
“Daddy! Mommy and I saw this kit at Zupan’s for carving pumpkins and it was for kids!”
Ben quizzed her about safety with sharp objects. She answered satisfactorily and then asked, “Can we get it?”
“How much was it?” Ben asked.
“I didn’t look,” she admitted. “It was purple and orange!”
“Well, how much money do you have in your piggy bank?” Ben led Nora to her bedroom and they returned a moment later, Nora carrying a piggy bank under each arm.
They proceeded to empty each slotted swine onto the rug and sort and count Nora’s savings.
“Listen up, Nora, because were going to form some opinions that will last your whole life.”
Yes, he really said this.
“You have 10.61 cents, you can afford that carving kit, but then you won’t have any money left.”
“But I want to buy it so I can have that carving kit for the whole year.”
“But you only need a carving kit around Halloween time. What if you find something you want at Christmas and you don’t have any money to buy it? It’s good to have some money left over for an emergency. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just helping you think it through.”
“Well,” she said slowly, “I’ll find a lot of money in our house.” I had recently found a five dollar bill while doing the laundry and this had apparently made an impression on her.
“You can’t count on that, sometimes it takes a long time to save some money,” Ben said.
“What if we found another carving kit that was less?” Nora asked. Ben and I exchanged proud glances.
“Good idea. Or what if we looked around the house and found some tools that worked just as well and then you can keep all your money instead of buying the carving kit?”
“Yeah! You could make me a kit!” Smart kid. This is basically my strategy, too. If I want to buy something but don’t want to spend money, I just ask Ben to make it for me.
And so the matter was decided.
Nora began putting her money back inside her pigs. She murmured happily to herself, “I’m saving my money!”
She held up her ceramic pig and said, “This is my regular money.”
Then held up her plastic pig, “And this is my emergency money.”
I told her that daddy could label her pigs that way, if she wanted. And so he did, but at the last minute she changed the wording from “Emergency” to “Occasionally.”