Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Letter to Kate 2-3-09

Dear Kate,

I didn't mean to take so long to write back. A whirlwind around here — some normal, some annoying.

First, I'm thrilled to hear that Firstborn is loving school. That's ideal. Isn't it awful when you find you've entrusted your child to teachers, to a school, and find that they weren't really to be trusted in the first place? They don't get your child. They don't WANT to get your child. Basically, they've failed and you are left to pick up the pieces. Which you've done. And well.

Today was a snow day, which means the Rabbit did not go to school. I should find this sort of thing exciting because I grew up without snow in Los Angeles. On a rare day we might be kept home because of brush fires (ash falling on the playground and that sort of thing.) or Noah-like rain storms. (Once, our car began to float down Sunset Blvd as my mother drove us to school. She regained tread and took us home.)

Given the day off of school, the Rabbit had a mini-playdate and the father of the little girl stayed for a bit. He said he hopes this downturn makes people re-evaluate their lives. Make them prioritize differently. (Do we need 3 cars? A 27,000 square foot home?)

I think some of that needs to happen. But what I wish for is some ownership of action. If you charged $30,000 on the credit card, you need to pay it back. Couldn't afford the $1 million apartment in February, but the broker said you should go for it in March — even though the monthly payments were the same? Well, maybe the broker was pushy. But maybe you also need to own some of the decision to sign as well.

But then why should we own it when the government, our banks, insurance companies and securities firms aren't either? And still have their hands out. How do you build a culture of responsibility when the key players act so cavalier? It's what I struggle with as a mom — how do I teach the Rabbit to build a savings account when she sees me pull out the "magic card" to buy everything? How do I encourage her to have some sense of what money is worth when she barely even sees cash touch my hand?

Some experiments are underway around here for her and me — an allowance experiment, a savings plan for some coveted objects for her, and me. It's truly hard. And making me get just how off kilter I know I've been.

xo L-


divrchk said...

I don't often comment but I had to delurk to say that I'm loving this letters series.

Anonymous said...

In a way, thank God for this economic downturn, and 'thinking' blogs like yours, to muse on facts and ideas that should be mused upon. When I was growing up (I know - bring out the violins), credit (hire purchase) was frowned upon, one might say even with pursed lips (we had our own demons then, frightful snobbery being one). But it made sense. If you couldn't afford it, you didn't buy it. Children got toys at Christmas and birthdays. We had School Banks where we saved our 'spends'. No instant gratification, but a sense of earning the treat. And the joy and excitement when we had saved up enough to buy that longed for item. We have denied our children their sense of pride in themselves by buckling to their every whim. Are we that desperate for their love? We won't get it that way. We shall rear spoilt, weak, self-indulgent apologies for human beings instead of proud, caring, thinking individuals who are content with their lot. So, Credit Crunch, I embrace you for the sake of our dear children.