My daughter was five when we moved from Florida to Virginia. We moved to a home on a little over 6 acres of woods. We traveled a dirt road on which ours was one of three homes. Our mail came to the little “general store” at James Store, VA. We stopped in daily to collect our mail, which Mr. Cox, the postmaster, had neatly rubber banded together for us.
And in the winter we tarried a while in the warmth of the wood stove and chatted with this older gentleman. He was a funny, wise, southerner who loved to talk about anything and everything under the sun.
One Saturday, in our first spring in VA, the whole family went to “get the mail.” After visiting a while, as we were heading out the door, my sweet, angelic daughter asked if she might have a sucker. Well, of course her father ate it right up and said, “Sure Jen, you and Steve each choose what you want…Mommy will give you the money.” (Thanks a lot, bucko!) So, I looked in my wallet, which, in those days was usually barren of bills, and found the sole resident….a five dollar bill.
Jen wanted to “pay,” and so I gave her the bill and told her to be sure to give me the change. Well, my sweet daughter did exactly as she was told. She accepted the change Mr. Cox counted back to her and then she very nicely handed me the three quarters and nickel from the 20 cent sale. But she held onto the four one dollar bills.
Certain she was playing around, I said, “Jen, give me the change, please.” Well, I am here to tell you this was the one and only time I ever saw this child throw a fit, in public or in private. She was NOT giving up those dollar bills! I literally picked her up and carried her home while she threw her fit.
She was as mad as a hornet because she had done exactly as I had asked, and then I had demanded those bills from her too. So it was that my five year old was introduced to the U.S. monetary system. Once I had her calmed down, I spent a good hour with her, teaching her how to count the money and how the “change” from a purchase included the bills, not JUST the coins! I think I scarred her for life though. Because, at age 23, if I am with her in a store, she will ALWAYS double check to make certain she got the right change. Although it is her money now, when I’m around, she has to be EXTRA careful!