Posted by: martinworster | October 20, 2011


It’s interesting to watch the gradual understanding Tristan and Oliver are obtaining of the value of money. I say gradual – as it’s arguable this process is something that matures and and changes direction like a twisting vine over the course of anyone’s lifetime. Youthful idealism (anti consumerism, anti-materialism, leftish views and other hippie values) are commonly replaced by conservatism and consumerism in one’s mature years – a natural reaction to the value and status society places on money. Money does make life easier and in doing so can help – in my opinion – illuminate the pathway to happiness.

Tristan and Oliver are obviously absorbing some of the importance that money has in the world. They see it and understand that it buys ‘things’ and are keen to participate in the barter economy. It has a value that can be exchanged for material goods. Material goods mainly being toys. An early grasping of the old adage that money makes the world go round. At first they would play with coins. Collecting them and putting them under their bed. Taking them out of the car, drawers, my wallet – or anywhere else where small change accumulates. Stacking them in piles and holding onto them in their pockets.

Then of course they realised that notes are of a higher value. This reminded me of my own childhood when we’d go and visit relatives up in Liverpool. Uncles would often give us money when we saw them. Of course being cash rich antique dealers they’d peel of notes from a large wedge whilst standing in front of a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit II. Sometimes I’d get a one pound note. Other times a five. On the few occasions I’d get a full Twenty (a lot back then in the 70s) my heart would skip a beat as I computed all the toys this would buy. Of course the uncle (no names) who gave us the twenty would be the ‘favourite’. For six year olds you can indeed buy love. Despite what the Beatle’s might try to tell you.

So recently Tristan lost his first tooth. Time for the tooth fairy – I’m not sure where that tradition came from? I am sure I could do a cursory search on the internet to find out. I was always told that money doesn’t go on trees but then clearly the tooth fairy would be picking money from a tree at the bottom of the garden. There are many morals this tradition could be promoting. I wasn’t sure what the going rate was these days for the tooth fairey. Tristan got $5. I remember getting a green one Pound note.

Trisan added this to the $20 he was recently left by his grandparents. Oliver had been given the same. The treat was they could go to Target and spend it if they were good (ie no fights) for four consecutive days. The message here – behave and you will be rewarded with cash. After about eight days I took them to Target. Straight to the Lego section. I would show them the different packet combinations that $25 would buy. Of course this took a long time due to the array of products. Two smaller Legos (a boat and a car) with one large Lego (a fire engine). Two medium sized Legos – a rescue boat and a Star Wars Falcoln. Four smaller Legos – a Ninja, a Darth Vader figure, a Policeman and another Ninja. Endless combinations for $25. We were in the shop for ages as the choices were overwhelming. Eventually we went slightly over budget just so I could get out of the store. I guess this taught them the current financial modus operandi – budgets are there to be broken, live beyond your means and it’s fine to be in debt.

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