I decided to stand tall, tell her that it was over our budget, and that it was mispriced on the shelf. The tears started to well up in her eyes, and the quivering bottom lip started to protrude as I hustled her outside like I was trying to surf a wave while balancing a crystal vase on my head. In an attempt to defuse the situation, I suggested we go to Toys R Us. This luckily worked to slow the 4 year olds fuse, but added another hour to our lesson.
As we walked into Toys R Us, I realized my fatal error. There were too many toys to look at, which means too many prices to discuss. We wandered about the store, my daughter like a caffeinated rabbit zipping from toy to toy, me like a zombie from The Walking Dead pushing a stroller with a half asleep child in it. We eventually rounded the corner and we found ourselves in the American girl doll section.
Now I knew she couldn't afford any dolls here with only $37. Maybe one outfit, but definitely not any furniture. Please no furniture! Then questions started.
4yr old: “Dadda how much is this American girl doll?”
4 yr old: “What the heck???”
It seemed like the lesson was sinking in. After a few more questions about prices, she realized she was out of her league. After many other “price checks,” we finally found Hairdresser Barbie and a small logo set. As we made our way to the checkout, we passed by the Power Wheels section. She stopped in front of the pink Cadillac escalade. More questions ensued.
4yr old: “Dadda, how much does that cost?”
4 yr old: “How many Easters?”
Me: “About 10 Easters. You will be 14 before you could afford this. You won't even want this in 10 years, or be able to fit in it. “
4yr old: “How about 2 Easters, and I do chores and get money.”
Me: “Who told you about chores for money?”
4 yr old: “Meme and Nanny"
We finally left the store with a few lessons learned:
1) Things cost different amounts
2) You only have a certain amount you can spend
3) You have to work in order to get more money
4) Every little thing your 4 year old does going forward is now a “chore,” and is expected to be compensated
5) 4 year olds still don’t know the concept of child labor...
I recommend trying this out on your child, but beware, now the currency in our household is in “Easters”. Do you know how many “Easters” my mortgage payment is? Not enough in my lifetime.