posted by Matt W on November 30th, 2011

“Dad, do you want to know what’s really expensive? Milk.” These wise words were uttered by my son who recently went off to college. As a father, it is always nice when your kids learn valuable life lessons, but any pertaining to your own wallet are especially nice. “And juice is really expensive too, it’s crazy!” As the father who paid $50 a month for your juice habit, I am painfully aware of the price of juice. “Yah, groceries in general are pretty pricy these days,” is all I can spit out without having to pull the old soapbox out of the closet. When your kids learn a valuable life lesson “on their own,” most of the time it is best to just take the old coaching method of just giving them a slap on the back as they enter the huddle and not feed them the “I told you the back door has been open all night, you should have listened to me earlier,” lecture. I give him a nice slap on the back as he walks by.

Later in the weekend, “Do you know what is really expensive? Disneyland food.” While the words, “Oh, really I hadn’t noticed the multiple times I had taken you and the rest of the family to the Magic Kingdom,” sit on my lips; I remain quiet. “Seriously Dad, a soft pretzel is like $6.00.” As the dad, I couldn’t help myself, and had to add a bit to the learning moment, “That does seem like a lot for a soft pretzel, especially if you times it by five when you go as a family.” “Yah, I guess our family vacations were pretty expensive, Thanks.” While I probably didn’t deserve the thanks, because of my added jibe, it was awfully nice to hear those words coming from my son.

While some kids learn the value of money early in life, my youngest son wasn’t one of those people. My older son on the other hand, has always been a miser. As he would rather starve himself than pay money for food, he is a pretty skinny young man. Not only is he tight with his money, but he is also tight with my money, which is appreciated. He just doesn’t think there are that many things that are worth the price we have to pay for them. However, my other son has no problem spending money and enjoying the finer things in life. When he was in grade school we were in Hawaii, and we asked him what he wanted for dinner. He answered, “I don’t need anything special, let’s just go someplace quick, how about a nice steak and shrimp?” Not a lot has changed since then.

The final learning moment in the weekend, my spendthrift son goes over to his friend’s house. While goofing around, he lost the electronic ignition key to my car. He searched for a long time and finally called me to see if I could bring over the spare. I was pretty leisurely getting over to his buddy’s house to give him more time to look but he never found the key. I try to be calm in situations like this and usually do a pretty good job of keeping my tongue in check in expensive car situations (I have two driving sons, there have been a few) and just handed the key over to him. But one of the few joys a father gets in a situation like this is watching your son wet his pants when the cost of the key is dropped in conversation, I held my best poker face. “Do you know how much one of these keys run?” A few moments pass. “Yah, a couple hundred bucks, I’d guess, and I know I get to pay you back.” So while his bladder held strong, I did get the satisfaction of watching my son grow up a little bit.

Value of money life lesson, check. Now if we could just get him to hang up his towel after a shower.

File Under King of the Castle