(My father used to always call me either kiddo or munchkin. Not sure why that thought floated through…)
They did another one of those segments on the high cost of having children on the news yesterday. Now it’s up to about a half million per child. That includes 18 years of housing, food (they eat 34,000. worth of food, for pete’s sake. And that’s if you don’t let them acquire a taste for sushi). 25,000. is the average cost of child care. I know I paid more than that. And then there’s scuba gear and skateboards and saxophone reeds and lacrosse sticks…If you earn more money, a kid costs you more of course, because then you can’t just toss them a bus pass; you have to get them a car (a used Suburu will do. Actually, neither Dan nor Abby have a car which is pretty much unheard of these days. They do a whole lot of biking.). A computer. And a phone. Well, you don’t actually have to give them a phone, but back in September of 2001 I got them phones and after that it was hard to say, “Okay. There are no weapons of mass destruction. Give the phones back.” Whatever.
The main problem with this segment was the small print, the cost of raising a child “for eighteen years.” Who, these days, is raising a child for eighteen years? Hah! Try thirty years. And that’s only as far as people my age have gotten. For all we know, you’re raising them until they’re subduing you in a nursing home.
Okay. I’m joking. Mostly. All our four children are hard at work trying to support themselves, with a fair amount of success. Still. Our children are seeing the effects of a changing economy. I was able to buy my first home in my mid-twenties and Rich had two children to feed by the time he was the kiddos ages. (I waited longer because I loved the sound of “elderly primip.” That’s what they wrote in my medical records when I showed up for prenatal care with Dan. Laugh. I don’t care.)
Speaking of Dan and issues financial, I suggested that he really should get good with Uncle Sam, especially with Bush’s Walmart Special this year. It’s aimed directly at impoverished musicians like Dan. Not really. It’s aimed at all the people who are being ripped off by sub-prime mortgage lenders and credit card companies; they’re supposed to go out and spend their 600. and stimulate the economy (probably on a flat screen that costs 800. but they can put the balance on the credit card, not to worry.) I did point out to Dan that if he just files he’ll get a check in the mail that is bigger than any other check he’s gotten. Plus, I have a hidden agenda: if he files he’ll have documentation that he’s living below the poverty level (while working endlessly and tirelessly) and he might qualify for his home county’s low-cost health care insurance. That would be good for him to have, given the heart defect and all. Sigh. Can we say, “ready for change”?
Taxes are, ah, taxing for kiddos with one giant right hemisphere and only a speck of left. Plus, it’s not as though he gets a W-2. He is paid twice a week or once every other month, after the record contract is signed or after the wedding reception, 50.00 or an eighth of the door take, dinner and two beers or nothing at all. To please me, he went off to our accountant to file his taxes. The only problem (s): He had no documentation. Not a single slip of paper. Nada. He didn’t know how much he earned. No guesstimate. Not a clue. Dan didn’t see the problem. He figured that he would multiply his rent by 12, add in some nominal amount for a weekly food budget, track down the receipts for instrument repairs and reeds and that was precisely, exactly the amount of money he earned last year. Apparently, in his own disarming way, he convinced the (entirely left brained) accountant because, together, they are concocting a financial history for him that can be submitted on a 1040 and get him that stimulus check.
Around here, Rich got a bonus at work. This is a new concept for us. I was always self-employed and Rich had his own business. Now he’s working in the corporate world and this bonus check showed up. (Personally, I think bonus checks should just “show up” for teachers and social workers.) It was sort of like winning a drawing or door prize- something that always happens to other people. We had a lengthy discussion about how to spend the bonus. Point in fact, there was enough to set aside some in savings for property taxes and rowhouse roof repairs, a little slush fund, a small check for each child and then we divided up the rest so we would each have our own money. Rich doesn’t care about having his own money but while I fully endorse the concept of “our money” (hence, “our bonus”, right?) there’s a little part of me that is like Pearl in that YouTube video with Will Ferrell and the landlord. She’s this little toddler screaming, “I WANT MY MONEY!” This is a new psychological problem that has developed since I stopped earning a living. I suppose we could have pooled our funds and bought one of those flat screens but so far we’ve gotten along fine with our 19 inch big butt TV. Besides, “I WANT MY MONEY!”
Anyway, we were like kids in a candy store for a couple days. Rich immediately went out, that night, and bought himself a weight bench and an electric drill. I bought myself an iRobot Roomba. How comical are we??
The Roomba is the most wonderful invention known to womankind. I’ve named her Cinderella or Cindy, for short. Cindy wanders around, relatively quietly, sucking up all the sand and cat hair and wool felting dust that seems to accumulate rapidly down in this Florida house with all the wood floors. She has some kind of sensors that map out the dimensions of a room and then she goes back and forth in a pattern of sorts. She rumbles along all the edges with little revolving brushes and works her way under the lowest furniture. She gets herself on and off rugs and doesn’t get tangled in fringe or cords. Just when you’re certain that she’s overlooked a dust bunny she spins around and whips over to snap it up. When she’s all done, she sends herself back to the docking station for recharging. She’s worth every single penny of my 250.00 bonus.
Rich has pointed out that Cindy is not really a time saver because I spend all the time she’s working watching her. It’s riveting stuff. She’s like a useful pet I don’t have to feed. I do need to empty the litter. I haven’t pointed out yet that Rich hasn’t drilled anything around the house in all the time I’ve know him ( although he can, because he built a house full of closets in one day for Habitat).
Well, that’s all of our personal business I’m going to share for now.
These little duckling kiddos were raised by Abby a few years ago when we lived in Ann Arbor. They cost about 24.00 in duckling chow to raise to age 3 months and then we tipped them into the Huron River and off they went. But then they came back the next Spring, with girlfriends and boyfriends and hung around the feeder. What can you do?