Eli has a knack for finding money. This is nothing new. But when he found $200 on the ground near school we were all in shock.
When we talked about trying to find the owner and why, he wasn’t happy. He had dreams of buying 200 items that cost $1 each. And a Nerf gun. So he (grudgingly) dictated, signed and delivered a note to the school secretary.
Meanwhile, he was now dreaming about a party.
Eli: I want to get a bouncy house. How much does that cost?
Eli: Oh good, I have enough! And a hot dog cart. And some party favors for my friends.
Dad: You’re going to need a lot more money than $200.
Eli: Oh. Well…maybe if I get some stuff that costs $1.
That week, we talked about losing money and finding money, what things could be done with the money and did every possible math problem with every combination of bills to equal $200. It was a hard wait.
I was talking to another couple about how Eli found $200.
Other Mom: Oh wow, our (10-year-old) son got $50 for Christmas and we didn’t know what to do with it.
Other Dad: (somewhat worried) That reminds me – where is it?
Other Mom: (Patting her purse.) Safely in my purse. (She turns to me.) So what did you do?
Me: It’s his to do with what he wants. We remind him of our values when it comes to money – sharing, spending and saving it – and then it’s up to him to decide. We want him to make money mistakes early and feel he can’t really do that unless he fully owns the decision.
I almost thought they were going to move to a different table.
And for a moment I questioned whether I or not I was doing the right thing for Eli.
Then it was the moment of truth. Nobody claimed the money. I asked Eli if he wanted me to get smaller bills so he could distribute the money. I held my breath awaiting his response and hoped he didn’t say he was going to have a bouncy house hot dog party with Nerf guns and lots of dollar toys. He said no. He asked, “Can I bring a $100 bill to Toys “R” Us and buy a Nerf gun?” And then this same kid who refused to share a piece of candy the day before told his brother he would buy him any Nerf gun he wanted at Toys “R” Us.
So how did Eli distribute the $200 when it was all said and done?
Plus the $0.01 he found at Toys “R” Us.
Not too shabby for a 6-year-old.