Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Cactus vs. The Penguin

A couple weeks ago, my sister-in-law reminded me it was time for Old Navy's annual "50% off all clearance" sale. I'm in love with that sale. I try to purchase as much boys clothing for the upcoming year(s) as possible during that week, and have been known to hit every Old Navy in the area to find the best selection. I'm always doing what I can to save money, and since ALL clothing worn by my children should be deemed "disposable" (translation: look at something they've worn at the end of any given day and you'll think my boys share the same genetic make-up as porcupines and pigs), why not spend $1.50 on a shirt as opposed to $10.00?

This time, the whole family came along to kindly complicate my shopping experience. When I was finally wrapping things up, Jonah approached me , positively giddy: "MOM! Look what I FOUND!" I looked down to see him holding the most disgusting pair of slippers I've ever seen. I am absolutely certain that some kid got these slippers for Christmas and wore them once or twice, the family dog decided to use them as a chew toy, and then the mom decided they were a total waste of money and returned them to the store. I'm sure that in any other circumstance Jonah would have been able to recognize their dilapidated state, but in this instance, all reasoning was lost on him because these were Penguin slippers. I don't know what it is about Penguins and my oldest son. He loves them. Not crazy-love, but if he's going to receive anything plush, it'd better resemble a non-flying bird. I looked at the price tag.

"50% off $5.49 is $2.75."

"I've got money at home!"

"But you don't have $2.75 because you just barely made that trip to the dollar store..."

"Mom. If you'll buy them for me, I promise I'll pay you back. Pinkie swear! Look they fit perfect!" (...only if by "perfect" he means that his heels are completely hanging off the back.)

There didn't seem to be much harm in indulging his penguin fetish, and I do like to provide opportunities for him to learn to earn and respect I gave in -- with the understanding that they could not be worn and the tag could not be removed until he paid in full.

Fast forward a couple weeks. Like any normal household, the filled Old Navy bags were still sitting on the kitchen floor. I finally (begrudgingly) decided it was time to put everything away, at which point we were all reminded of the penguin slippers. The desire to pay his debt was renewed, and I encouraged him to talk to his Granny to determine whether or not she had any paying jobs he could do to earn some money.

Now Jonah hates to work. Haaaates it. And he's a pretty resourceful little bugger so I'm never surprised to see him looking for ways to skirt manual labor. This time there was no whining, though, which surprised me. About an hour later I saw him trot downstairs holding the potted cactus I bought him a couple years ago in an effort to teach him about caring for living things (a lesson which totally backfired since I failed to recognize that those things are impossible to kill so it doesn't matter that we haven't watered it for 18 months). He rarely shows any interest in it, so I was curious to find out what he was doing. I went downstairs and found Jonah cactus-less with a handful of change. Tyler's grandma explained:

"Jonah sold me his cactus. He told me he needed $2.75, but I negotiated and talked him down to $2.00."

"You sold your cactus to Granny?"

"Yes! And now I'm going to go count my money and see if I have enough to buy the slippers."

What am I going say? The cactus belonged to him -- he can do with it what he pleases. Deep down I was a little impressed that he even thought to make money that way. But of course, that's not the end of the story. The thrill of entrepreneurship lasted a whole 10 minutes until I heard him approach his Granny again:

"Granny, I changed my mind. I want to buy back my cactus for $2.00."

"Okay, if that's what you want. How come?"

"I know you'll do a very good job taking care of it, but I'm afraid it will be lonely without me."

So the refund was made and the cactus reclaimed its rightful place on Jonah's dusty, cluttered dresser.

And guess what? The tags are still on those darned slippers.

$2.75 is a lot of money, after all.


  1. Love the new blog! It'll be fun to read extended versions of your facebook stories now... :)

  2. extatic my friend to read your cleverness and catch up on your life seeing how it is i cant get you to catch me up on it one on one!