Like most children, I was slightly obsessed with the concept of earning money. Okay, “earning” may not be the right word — more like, “I was slightly obsessed with the concept of being handed money for not really doing anything other than look cute and exist.” Easter cards from Grandma with a $5 bill tucked inside or quarters appearing behind my ear after some fancy gesturing by Grandpa didn’t exactly contradict this idea.
The only person who expected me to actuallydo something for a crisp dollar bill was the Tooth Fairy. That winged sprite wanted my teeth, and, unfortunately for me, I only had so many baby ones to give and they seemed to loosen at their own pace.
I tried my hand at Poker, but my older brother immediately beat me and took what little earnings I had. Fortunately, I recouped them after my mother scolded and reminded him that I was, after all, only 6.
If you’re wondering what I was so desperately trying to save up for, I honestly have no idea. Likely a Barbie doll or a really large chocolate bar. Or perhaps I just wanted to know that I always had a little cushion to fall back on if times got tough in the first-grade.
At some point, I heard other kids throw around this term that piqued my interest: “allowance.” Apparently, some of my friends were being given money for doing simple household chores, like washing dishes or folding laundry.
My parents didn’t seem interested in hiring me as an employee, however. As I continued to push, my dad pointed to a loaf of Wonder Bread sitting on the counter. “You see that bread? That is your allowance. The fact that we provide you with food, clothing, and shelter is your allowance. There’s nothing else you need.”
I pouted. And demanded someone make me a piece of peanut butter toast with my allowance.
The years have passed and I’ve found a slew of people willing to give me a paycheck, from my first job at a now defunct CD store to, most recently, running the Editorial department at LivingSocial. These opportunities, of course, expected something in return: that I do actual work.
Now, as a stay-at-home-mother tied to my husband’s salary, I think of that little girl, desperate to find her own financial independence at such a young age. I wonder if she’d call me crazy for trading in that sweet, sweet moola for dirty diapers and spit-up.
But then I look at my own little girl — that sweet, sweet 6-month old, who’s already striving to find her own independence by rolling all over the place, army crawling, and no longer needing me to rock her to sleep — and think:nah, now I finally have it right: this is the most rewarding job I’ve had to date.
We want to wish a happy Labor Day to all the hard-working professionals, stay-at-home parents, and mini entrepreneurs out there (hey, someone’s got to man the lemonade stand). We’d love to hear about the creative ways your kids have tried to “earn” a dollar in the comments or on our Facebook page!
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