Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seeing Things For the First Time

A couple weeks ago, John came bounding home full of new, important knowledge.

"I've been really interested lately in how much things costs," he announced. "I like reading catalogs and seeing, for example, that some things cost $9.95, and some things cost $19.95, and some things are only, like, $4.95. And I like thinking about why they cost different."

"Well, that's important to know and think about," I said.

And that was that. Later that evening, as I was tucking him into bed, I reminded him that pretty soon we'd be going to the eye doctor, because one of his eyes was giving him trouble.

"Can I get contacts?" he asked.

"No," I said. "Not for a nine-year-old. But maybe, if you're still playing hockey when you're 12, we'll think about it then. It's hard to play hockey with glasses."

"How much do glasses and contacts cost?"

"Dad's insurance pays for it, but if it didn't, the glasses and the exam and everything usually runs about $200."

John stared at me, horrified. He burst into noisy tears. I boggled back at him, not quite sure what to do, or what the problem was.

"Oh, Mom," he sobbed, once he could speak. "I didn't know! Oh, Mom, you don't have to spend that money on me if you don't want to! I didn't know it was so much!"

Friends, that just about made me burst into tears right there, too.

I started explaining about insurance, and our duties as parents, and how grown-up money relevance is a little different than for kids, and so on, and John just sat there weeping and shaking his head "no" and then he said, "Mom, I'll stop playing hockey so we don't have to spend that money!"

This was getting a little ridiculous. "John, let me outline just how much money we spend on you. Just for hockey." And I did, and he settled down, and then got a little embarrassed.

What a guy.

We went to the eye doctor and found that he is nearsighted and has an astigmatism in one eye, and is farsighted in the other eye. He'll have glasses for classwork but can probably do without while running around, for now. "I'm embarrassed and excited and nervous about getting glasses," he said. I can't wait to see him with them.


  1. That's sweet! Gave me a good laugh, too.

    Ben occasionally asks how much money we have, and I'm not about to guesstimate net worth for a second-grader. I ought to ask why he wants to know—I don't think he's fretting that we haven't got enough. More likely, he'll recommend cashing out a 401(k) to buy a Hummer.

  2. We both have sensitive boys. I lost my patience the other day and told mine to "get a grip." It wasn't very nice of me. We talked about it later.
    I was complaining to myself once about how the cheeseburger Happy Meal was, like, 40 cents more than the hamburger Happy Meal. Later, my daughter said, "Don't worry Mom, I won't get the cheeseburger meal if we can't afford it." Ho boy!