A few days ago, my wife and I took my daughter and one of her friends to the Build-A-Bear store in our local mall. The friend is a boy one year younger than my daughter that we have known for a long time. Our trip takes place the day after his birthday and he is ripe with money to spend!
As we make our way through the mall the kids begin to bug us about where to go. Adam pipes up about how much he wants to go to the Build-A-Bear store and get a koala. My daughter immediately chimes in, "I've already got one of those!"
I have no idea if she has one or not. I know she has a shelf covered in stuffed animals and puppets but I have no idea if she has a koala. My wife looks over at me and nods her head, she knows.
Up ahead we see it, the cavernous opening to the store. For a holiday, the store is near empty. I only see three workers and a couple of kids in the store. Adam immediately rushes over to the deflated animals while my daughter heads straight for the accessory department.
He picks out a deflated koala and gets in line. The one other kid buying a bear is in front of us.
"How much money do I have to spend?"
I check my pocket and count what's left of the money his mother gave us, "You've got $17 left and the koala costs $12. So, you can get the koala and have $5 left to buy stuff."
He thinks for a moment and forgoes putting a sound in his koala.
At the stuffing station my daughter "helps" him. I'm not sure if he wants her help, but she says he does.
Soon enough the koala is all stuffed, cleaned and ready to go! Then we walk through the clothing and accessory area.
Now, I've left off all of the constant haggling my daughter has been taking part in with my wife. I'll give the short version here and you can fill in the blanks:
"Can I buy _____________?"
"How much does it cost?"
"How much money do you have?"
"I left my purse at home."
"Your purse is empty, isn't it?"
"I don't remember, Can I get it?"
"If you did some (chores/reading/homework/listening) a little more while at home you might be able to earn some money to spend."
"What if I just get this one?"
You can just re-read the above and enter a new item's name. Do this about 25 times, and then repeat again 30 more times and you will just about get the experience.
Adam is no different, but I have an edge. He's not my kid! Not only that but, I have a set amount of money in my pocket that he can use to buy things with! All I have to say to him is, "You have $5.00 left. If it costs more you can't get it. If it costs less you can."
Now we have a slight dilemma. One child is buying stuff and the other is not. One thing I have learned as a parent is that if one kid gets something on a shopping trip and the other does not, you WILL have a headache before you finish the drive home.
My wife and I agree to let my daughter purchase one $10.00 outfit for her koala.
On the ride home the two kids are in the back seat and they are talking about getting together and playing with their koala bears. My wife turns to them and says, "What will your koala bears do when they get together?"
Adam responds first, "they're going to make out!"
To which my daughter quickly counters, "no! They are going to go out for dinner."
I glance over at my wife and smile.
See, Adam has an older brother, my daughter is an only child.