Thursday, October 15, 2009

I left a title off this one simply because I just couldn't think of clever words to sum up the head-banging-against-a-brick-wall frustration called my visit to Target last night with two 10-yr olds.

Jack and Charlie wanted to go out shopping for Halloween costumes. Having amassed a collection of gift cards from past birthdays, I saw a win-win situation here: we go to Target, they get costumes and pay with gift cards... without so much as a swipe of our debit card. See? Win-win.

They had $35 each to spend.

Charlie was the first to choose a costume. As we strolled the aisles, we happened by the back wall display -- a seemingly endless trough filled with bags upon bags of "fun size" candy bars. The boys? Lost. Their. Minds.

Them: "Can we get some?"
Me: (hesitant, but trying to avoid turning into the Sugar Nazi too early) "Ummm, sure."

The boys practically dive head first into said trough, coming up with armloads of bags.

Me: "STOP!"

I explain that in two short weeks, they will be hip-deep in candy. Jack counters with, "So, what's your point?" I suppress the urge to throttle him, and further explain that they really don't need a head start on destroying their body chemistry and depleting their (much needed) immune systems with all that sugar right now. (OK. I went a little Sugar Nazi on them right there.) I talk them down to two bags each. Moving on, Jack finds a costume. Then they both spy little, ugly, useless, rubbery skulls on elastic bands. Of course. So then, Jack, being the ever-talented, budding math whiz quickly calculates his purchases in his head: costume, $17; walking staff with light-up skull on top, $10; two bags of candy, $6; rubbery skull, $2. Perfect. $35 on the nose.

I'm all, "Hang on there cowboy... you have to figure in sales tax." He balks. And by balks, I mean a visible show of disgust, as if I'd just told him I'd fixed chicken beak tacos for dinner. With a side of mealworms.

"I don't wanna pay sales tax!" he laments. Oh, sweet child. Welcome to life.

"Yes, Jack... no one does. But you have to," I say.

"Well.... can't you cover the tax for me?"

"Um, that would be a solid n-o."

Again, he balks, trying to make me feel like the worst mother in the history of the world. Ha. You're going to have to work a little harder, since you've shared that opinion quite a few times over the past decade.

"You could always put a bag of candy back," I say. "That might help."

He is horrified at such a thought. In fact, in the ensuing conversation/debate/argument (which, I'm sure, was enjoyed by all Target patrons within earshot) I explain the seven percent tax, and what it means for the bottom line of his purchase. He finds it necessary to keep wailing about the injustice of how I won't cover a few measly bucks. Of course I could. But by this point, I was rolling with the principle of the situation and teaching a life lesson on spending within a set budget. I mean, grown ups don't pick out groceries willy-nilly, get to the check-out and wheel around to the person in line behind them to say, "I'm a tad short here. Howzabout you cover me?" You stick to your budget. Period.

We finally find a mutually-acceptable agreement that in no way demanded me plunking down MY debit card for his purchase, and him chucking the ugly, rubbery skull back into the bin, and snarling, "Are you happy now?" Pfft. Like I was the one to invent sales tax just to ruin a 10-yr. old's good time.

In the end, they ended up with pretty cool costumes. And a shitload of candy.

You want to talk scary? I've all but debated economic principles with a 10-yr. old. In Target of all places. Bring on Halloween.


Amy said...

If they ever figure out how to get out of sales tax, send them my way. But in the meantime, you did a great job, Mom.

Lindy said...

Again, I really think you should send me a weekly "Mom Lessons" email.

I would have caved thus never having proved a point or taught any reasonable lesson.