Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lesson 138: Funny Money

There they are, Readers.  The winners of the NCAA basketball pool this year.  41 participants, mostly adult men, and two kids.  Jack, second place.  Ellen, third place.  And although she didn't cash, Kenyan Karen my blingy sister who cares nothing more for basketball than the color scheme of the uniforms, came in a respectable fourth!  And Sam....he is always a winner, isn't he? Jack came to collect his winnings yesterday and of course snapshots and a funny story to follow.

Sam was not a happy camper as he watched his sister and his cousin collect their cash.  He wanted "some dollars, too!"  Ellen, the kindhearted soul that she is, even ran upstairs to give him one of her dollars from her piggy bank. "I don't want those kind of dollars," yelled Sam, "I want the big kind like the $20!"  And then my headstrong boy proceeded to roll around the living room floor howling and complaining, kicking the day off to a splendid start.

Heck, I thought to myself as I popped two Advil, use this as an opportunity to teach about the value of money.  Turn this lemon into some lemonade.  I launched into a bit of a dissertation about the value of EARNING money.  I used the lemonade stand that Sam wants to have this summer as an example. I explained that people worked for their money, but once in awhile they could win some like Ellen and Jack did.  It was no Mega Millions Jackpot and there were no fights as to who actually filled out the brackets.  The winnings of Jack and Ellen belonged to them.  Still seeing all that cash in one place put Sam into a bit of a frenzy.  He looked like the old cartoon characters when a money crazed cat blinks twice and you can see dollar signs in his eyes.    He wanted money and wanted it badly!

I tried to show him his quarter jar.  "See Sam," I said calmly, "this is money you EARN for your chores and good things you do."  When the kids fill their jars to the top I cash them out. Then they divide the sum into three (I need the help of a calculator)--some to save, some to spend, some to give away.  As you can see, Natalie's jar is always the most full.  She's the best worker in the house.  Sam and Ellen are continually battling it out for last place.

I tried to motivate my son to get up and let the barking dog in for me, as I was curled on the couch under my blankey , too warm and comfortable and too lazy to move, truthfully.   "Sam," I suggested, "why don't you get up and let the dog in for Mommy?"  "No, fanks," he said matter of factly.  ....."You can earn a quarter for that job, Sam....a new shiny quarter for your jar," I said toyingly.  My son has inherited my gift of language ability, which has proved to be more often a curse than a blessing as of late.  "Half my heart is yellow.  I can't," said Sam.  "Your heart is YELLOW?  What does that mean?" I asked.  "It means that this side of my heart (gesturing to the left) is yellow and that means that I can't let the dog in because I have to sit here and rest and be warm until my heart turns red again."  !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?  That is what my brain does most days after talking with Sam.  I think my brain is half yellow. 

You can call Sam lots of things, but you can't call the kid a slacker.  He got right to work.  No, not collecting lemons for his lemonade stand.  No, not filling the dog's bowl, sweeping the kitchen floor, or lining up the shoes neatly.  Making his own money. 

Sam didn't start with the ones, either.  He made himself some larger bills, complete with faces of friends and family members in the center.  See if you can find yourself.

Lord, help me.  I guess He did, because he put Erik in a good mood, for just enough time for me to grab a snapshot or two of him.  Erik is nearly impossible to photograph.  He is CONSTANTLY moving.  He paces and twitches and walks on his tip toes.  If you do catch him in a seated position, he is always rocking or twirling something or winking one eye shut.  What must it be like to live in a body in constant motion?  I was able to get this one of Mr. Handsome to share with all of you.  You have my permission to cyber-steal it if you want to.  There are not that many good pictures of my nephew.  He should be an example to Sam.  Erik was happy being at my house to visit whether he had winnings to collect or not.

And now for the answer to your most puzzling question:  What did Natalie's circle paper mean?  What was she trying to communicate?  Had she discovered the secrets of the universe and was unable to communicate them through words, so she was desperately trying to convey the message through pictures?  

I figured it out.  It took me three tosses of the pages she kept copying to even recognize that her symbols written on her favorite 90's computer paper meant something.  I was bent over the paper studying, scrutinizing every circle, looking for galaxies and hidden molecular formulas, when Natalie came up behind me and said in her monotone voice, "Look at that!  Oh, look at that!  Go shopping."  

Shopping.  Natalie loves to shop.  Not try on clothes so much.  And not for more than an hour outing, but she loves to get her purse and go to a store and look at stuff.  She likes the purple sweeper at Wal-Mart and has a thing for pajama bottoms right now.  The friendly cashiers are very patient with her as she counts out her own money for her picks--usually bath soap or gum.  

So here is the answer key to your homework assignment from last weekend.  What did Natalie's circles mean?  Money.  I annotated it for you.  She's exactly right.  Thanks Mr. Fritts, Sarah, and Jen!  Nice work at school!  She's getting it!

Cha-ching!  $$$$$!

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