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The Color of Money – Redux

Full disclosure: I published this post two years ago almost exactly to the day. On that day in November, Liam was still in 5th grade at our neighborhood school; Caleb was adjusting to kindergarten; we were going to “visit” Abu Dhabi for the first time about two weeks after this conversation. The boys thought of it as a “visit,” but Husband & I knew that a move out here was within the realm of possibility.

Now? Liam is in Year Seven at an outpost of a British school that requires kids to wear blazers and ties; the boys take a bus to school–there is no more morning walk, hand-in-hand.  Until I’d gone back to read this post, I’d not realized that Liam has been saying that a lot of money is key to happiness; I thought that was an idea he’d gotten from living here.

He still loves bacon, this son of mine, but his palate has developed: now he likes babyback ribs, too. Of course, if you give him a ham sandwich, he’ll curl his lip in disgust. And as for anything fresh–nah. Money seems to be the only “green” that Liam is interested in, I guess. 


When I walked to school with Liam this morning, we talked about money.  Or rather, he talked about money and I wondered where he gets his information.

“It’s better to have a million dollars than just a thousand dollars,” he said. “Because then you don’t have to make any choices. You can do whatever you want. We could go to France and China and Japan…”

We’ve been talking about a family trip to France this summer for my mom’s 70th birthday. Going to France might mean not renting a house at the beach this summer, mostly because of time constraints, but has Liam been listening to our conversations and determined for himself that a bigger checkbook would make it all possible?

“You need a lot of money to be happy, you know. Then we could have a bigger apartment because you and Daddy say that Caleb and I wouldn’t fight so much if we each had our own room…”

Well, seems to me that you and your brother would fight even if you lived in the Taj freakin Mahal…but how can I explain to him that by NYC standards we’ve got a pretty good gig: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room (okay, a ten year old can’t appreciate the joy of having laundry in the apartment rather than in the basement of the building, but still…) Sure, three bedrooms would be nice–but does saying that in front of him make him think that what we’ve got is insufficient?

I suggest that Daddy and I think it’s more important to do something you love and not necessarily something that makes lots of money.

“No, mommy, you’re wrong. Because you can just do the job you don’t like until you have a lot of money and then you can get a better job that makes you happy.”

I find myself humming Harry Chapin.

“Plus think of all the soccer players who have these really big charities so they can help people and do stuff for their families, and they couldn’t do that if they didn’t make a lot of money.”

Kid’s got a point.

“And besides, you could learn to love whatever job it is. Even if you don’t at first.  It’s just if you start learning something early then you might learn to love it. Like me and BLTs. I mean, I don’t like them now but I could learn to like them.”

YOU? Like a sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce? Never gonna happen.

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7 Responses to The Color of Money – Redux

  1. Jeanellen November 10, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Can I just say that I loved this whole post but my favorite part was that you tagged “BLT”. Now I will not be satisfied until I have one.

  2. a guy November 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    This post is a poem.

  3. Stacie @ Snaps and Bits November 9, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    Awesome post! But it seems you left all of us wanting a BLT…
    Stacie @ Snaps and Bits recently posted..My Impending Big Fat Greek DinnerMy Profile

  4. Bee November 9, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Where do kids get their ideas about money? My friend’s 7-year-old surprised her by declaring that she just couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t put their “extra” money in a bank. I got my ideas from my parents, but unfortunately, they instilled the wrong ones.
    Bee recently posted..One of the Reasons I Killed My Old BlogMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

      My parents totally didn’t see eye-to-eye about money (or much else; they’re divorced now : )
      But out here, wealth and the lack of wealth seem even more public than anywhere else: the rich are SO rich, and the poor are…well, it’s astonishing. So I don’t know,exactly, what lessons my kids are picking up. We’re trying to inculcate the whole “do what you love” idea, and also we stress the importance of finding ways to give back to the community, but who knows… I love the idea of EXTRA money that your daughter has – I too would like someone to put some extra money in my bank!

  5. Jamie@SouthMainMuse November 10, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    I think some children are just wired for money. Our daughter is that way. Not only does she love it — she dying for a job to earn some. She’s been downtown pestering the candy maker to hire her. So maybe it’s not such a bad thing. My husband and I know which one of our children won’t be coming back home to live.
    Jamie@SouthMainMuse recently posted..Tweenage Mutant Ninja Sweet Potatoes.My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Being aware of money, and that it needs to be earned, is, I think, really important, absolutely. I just worry that sometimes it becomes too much of the focus. But hey – we’re English professors, so it’s not like I’m ever going to have to worry about my kids blowing through their trust funds or anything like that… : )

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