Saturday 24 Sep 2016

Bank on It
Jennifer Flaten

Late afternoon and I hear a vehicle with a rusty exhaust slowly making its way up the street. Ah, nothing sounds quite like a fine-tuned government vehicle. The mail carrier stops at our box and as soon as the flap snaps shut, the dog snaps awake.

Previously, he was lying in a stupor on the couch, but with his keen sense of hearing he springs awake, the minute the rusted out mail truck careens off down the road, he barks 6 times (why six I have no idea) to let me know that the mail has arrived.

I shuffle out to the box and pull out a huge stack of mail. I rifle through the pile. Let's see bill, little kid party invite, bill, flyer for kid's school, bill (probably for something I bought for the kids), magazine for kids-oh, here's something-a card. For just one moment, I actually thought someone sent me a happy card.

Nope. It's to one of the children, as are the other two cards in the pile. For those keeping track at home, the little kid mail outweighs my mail 2-1.

Sigh, apparently I get all the boring mail. While the kids get all the fun mail. I file all my bills in the "forget about them until their due"-I mean the bill slot and place the kids mail under their door, per their instructions.

After school, they thunder to their room and fall upon the pile of mail like wolves. All I hear is the Schhhhripping sound of envelopes torn asunder.

Strips of paper are flying everywhere. I really have to teach these kids how to use a letter opener. Then, again, maybe I won't.

After the envelopes are shredded, the kids pull out the cards, flip them open and grab the green bills inside, and promptly discard the empty cards. I am almost sure they don't even know (or care) who is sending them money-they just want the money.

They run up to me gleefully waving around their wad of cash and then the boasting/counting begins. It won't be long before arguments break out about who has the most money.

The sums are quite large. Huh, I think it is time to open bank accounts and not only because I am tired of the kids having more money on hand then I do; I am. I think the money should go in the bank so it is safe.

We have had instances of pilferage. Just so we're clear when I take it, it's borrowing, when they take it from each other it's stealing.

I gather the little ones around and tell them we are going to open savings accounts for their ridiculous sums of money. They look blankly at me, so I explain what a bank account is.

After explaining and re-explaining, what a bank account is and why you would have one. I finally convince the kids it's a good idea.

I admit I will miss having all those cash stuffed piggy banks available for household emergencies-like a gallon of milk or ice cream.

Yes, ice cream is a valid emergency. Check the parenting handbook, if you don't believe me. It clearly states that if kids are acting like crazed maniacs it is okay to pilfer funds from kid's piggy bank to take everyone for ice cream in hopes of pushing them into a sugar coma.

They stuffed their bills into their wallets and off we went to the bank. We arrived at my bank, which is conveniently located in the local grocery store (hey sometimes I need money and loaf of bread) and commenced the filling out of forms.

This is where the bank account ceased to be cool for the kids. As far as they are concerned, nothing requiring this much paperwork could be cool. No way and not a chance: let's do something else.

Finally, after much clicking, shuffling and Xeroxing, the teller is ready to receive their initial deposits. Even though they agreed to it, it was pretty darn hard to pry the money out of their grubby little hands. I managed to wrestle the money away from them, eventually, and it is safely stowed in the bank.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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