My Money in Retrospect: Why my Mother Should Have Known

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I was about 6 or 7 years old when my mom told me there was no Santa. I wasn’t devastated. I wasn’t as upset as some kids get. Maybe it was the calm with which she delivered the news. She appeared guiltless. Perhaps it was my own curiosity, my desire for more information, that overshadowed my sadness. I was curious where all the gifts came from (She got them and wrapped them at night). I wanted to know why I could see someone who didn’t exist (A guy gets paid to put on a suit). Then why was I required to be good? (Because she bought the gifts and I needed to keep her happy). Who started this lie? (She shared the story of Saint Nicholas). The questions were endless, the ensuing answers were a helpful distraction. I never felt betrayed which is odd, because even as a kid I hated being lied to. In any case, new possibilities opened up: I could now pick my own gifts!

My post-Santa Christmas often (not always) went something like this: I tell her what I want and she gets it. Or she takes me to the store and I pick it out. I’ve always been very independent, thus preferred going to the store to pick my gifts. I remember being about 10 or 11 years old one Christmas when my dad gave her money for my gift. We went to the store one week end during the holiday season and I walked the aisles. I picked up about 5 or 6 things and then after walking a few more aisles, I stopped and said: “Is this a waste of money?” She responded: “I don’t know. Why do you say that? What are you thinking?” I thought about it for a second and said: “I don’t know if I need all this stuff. I don’t want it.” I put most of it back and ended up with 3 board games: Scrabble, Sorry and this should be a surprise to no one: Monopoly.

I don’t know what my mom thought in that moment. Maybe it was a fleeting moment; maybe she didn’t dwell on it too much. But I think that’s the moment she should have known that she was raising a really weird child. I’m do not have children, but I’ve been around enough of them to know that children like things. They don’t turn down new shiny stuff and if I was in her shoes, I would have checked for a fever. While she may not have been able to predict that I would insist on driving a raggedy car into the ground,  she should have know that I was shaping up to be Reigning Queen of Frugal Land from the House of Stinge. Of course now, she nags me about my spending habits, as if my childhood wasn’t littered with clues (I kept wads of cash in a fake make up box under my bed as a kid).

Pay attention to your children, you never know what monsters you’ll be unleashing into the world.

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