The mischievous smile on my son’s face should have been my first clue that something was rotten in the state of Denmark.
A close second perhaps should have been the fact that his little hands remained hidden behind him as he inched backwards towards his bedroom.
“Mummy, can you please open the door?” Master H asked sweetly, his tone dripping with innocence. Obliging immediately, I followed him into his room and threw open the blinds to let the day’s sunlight stream in. Making small talk about the weather, I failed to take notice that my son – who normally indulges in the art of chatter as naturally and regularly as he does breathing – was largely ignoring me. Instead he’d chosen to stay huddled in the furthest, most furtive corner of his bedroom, his back to me as he busied himself with whatever task it was that was all of a sudden so important he’d chosen not to speak.
I didn’t give it much more thought, and continued on with my morning chores.
And then it dawned on me.
About 10 minutes before I’d reprimanded my boy for playing with my wallet, catching him pulling out my miscellany of cards with glee. Stalking back into his room and I was greeted by the unmistakeable sound of coins clattering. My 4 year old son had just been sprung red handed, pilfering coins from my purse & depositing them directly into his Piggy Bank!
My first reaction was to laugh; I almost admired his guile. Then a wave of parental responsibility washed over me and I knew that whatever response I took could very well likely shape his attitude towards all things fiscal for a lifetime to come.
So I took a tough line and seized back the small coin cache that my son had secretly procured without my permission and braced myself. I knew he had developed a healthy fascination for finance to rival Mr Trump, so my popularity was about to plummet in line with the share market on the last Black Friday.
Greeted with howling sobs (although unable to decipher if they were guilt or greed related), I pulled Master H into my lap and dried his tears with my hands. The time had arrived for our very first serious parent to child chat about all things financial and the privilege of earning pocket money versus simply taking it.
Because, to be frank, I don’t want my child to grow up feeling entitled to raid my wallet on a whim, even if it is only to bulk up his own meagre coin collection. Sure it’s likely just an innocent aberration on his part, considering his age, but I decided then and there that it cannot hurt to have some sort of appreciation for earning instilled in him from an early age.
And I figure, if nothing else, the very least it might do is begin to back up my claims I’m often forced to utter in the toy aisle of the supermarket that “you haven’t saved enough pocket money for that yet” and steer him into more actively asking to help around the house. I’d call that a win for all concerned!