This weekend I had a bit of a setback in terms of Elli's training on money management. We went to see Nut Job at the theatre, which was fun, and when we got out I intended to hit the grocery store and go home. Unfortunately for my plans Elli immediately demanded that we buy a drink from the concession stand. Not knowing how much drinks cost at the theatre (I just always assume the answer is 'too much') I wandered up to look and choked at the prices. After I informed Elli that I wasn't going to pay $5 for a drink she then demanded to buy it herself. Thankfully she has already blown her Christmas money so she lacked the funds.
After this revelation I was treated to a ten minute meltdown demanding popcorn because X's parents bought popcorn and IT ISN'T FAIR. I even offered to make her fresh popcorn at home as soon as we arrived there but this was met with derision and scorn as only movie theatre popcorn will do. We managed to make it to the lobby and there we had another blowout because the little trinket machine that wants loonies was taunting her, begging for change in exchange for a brief squirt of feel good hormones and a piece of plastic crap.
Finally we got to the grocery store and the true nature of the problem became evident as Elli shouted "I just want to BUY something!" I have plenty of sympathy for wanting particular things. There is nothing wrong with desiring something and buying it when you have the money, particularly when you aren't in the position of having to save up money for necessities. What truly worries me though is that Elli honestly didn't care what she bought - drink, popcorn, toy, whatever, the only thing that had to happen was money had to be exchanged for goods. It became almost comical when we went into the dollar store and the following conversation was had:
"Daddy, what is this? I want to buy it."
"I don't know what it is, but how do you know you want it if you don't even know what it is?"
"I just want it! What is it?"
"It is a pad to write on."
"I want it! Can I buy it with my money?!?"
So Elli is now $2.25 poorer and is in possession of a random object she passed by in a dollar store. I know she is very young yet to have absorbed the lessons I try to impart about saving money and but I can't help but be discouraged. It is just that raw desperation to buy something, anything, that gets me. The ability to delay gratification is one of the most important factors in predicting future happiness and I really hope to foster that in my child. Seven is still young to have real discipline but still I worry.