Friday, March 14, 2008

Spend that Money!

After a prolonged struggle, Erika lost one of her top front teeth yesterday, right in the middle of her end-of-session drama showcase - which, I may add, contributed significantly to the drama.

Naturally, the tooth fairy visited our house last night, and left a dollar under Erika's pillow, with which she was very pleased.

I hesitated a bit, however, before I put the plain one dollar bill under her pillow. Erika was sleeping over at her friend Abby's house last year when she lost her very first tooth, and the tooth fairy that handles that jurisdiction left a dollar bill with a note written all around the margin. Apparently, that's a tradition in Abby's family, and her mother still has all the dollars she got from the tooth fairy when she was a kid, with her parents' witty, loving missives permanently inked on the bills.

I had my own collection of souvenir money as a child - a whole cup full of half-dollar coins, Susan B. Anthony dollars and two dollar bills I had amassed over the years as prizes for finding the matzo every Passover. They were gifts from well-meaning adults who wanted to give us something more "special" than plain old money. I'm not sure what happened to the cup - I think it was lost when I left home to go to college.

So I wondered if I should do something more symbolic with Erika's dollar - write another note she would cherish forever, or fold it into an origami flower, something like that. There's such a strong impulse to make every moment in your kids' lives memorable, saturated in meaning. My unadorned dollar looked so . . . forgettable, folded between my fingers.

Then I decided there will be no lack of special mementos from Erika's childhood for her to share with her kids - favorite toys she's loved, adorable stories she's written and illustrated - and if notes from me are so priceless, I can put aside a few of those as well. But I don't want Erika to feel bad about spending her own money. I want her to save it, and to think about what she really wants, and make smart decisions.

Unfortunately, what I've discovered recently, while probing Erika about what she wants for her birthday next week, is that she pretty much already has everything a soon-to-be-7-year-old could possibly want.

So much for my lessons about money.

1 comment:

Doesn't love a wall said...

My mom always left a little note along with the money. One day my sister said "How does the TF write so big?" From the on? the notes were teeny tiny and I loved them all the more because of it!