Kiddo#1 is still at “money school” and is doing splendidly. To recap: he gets a ten-dollar allowance but must budget that to purchase any hot lunches he wants at school. Lunches from home are free.
Thus far, he’s never run out of money for the week and wanted to purchase more than he could afford. In fact, he’s gone the other way: he’s built up quite a surplus, enough that he wants to deposit some in his bank account; and he’s figured out how to do the lunches he wants “on the cheap.” He’ll break up some a la carte rather than buying the whole meal. Some days he’ll get the soup rather than the main entree.
By george, I thought, the kid’s got it.
(Funny note: soup is a dollar, and soup crackers are five cents per pack. Each pack contains two saltine crackers. One of the Kiddo’s friends came out of the lunch line with a tray on which he had twenty packages of soup crackers. And that was the boy’s lunch. Kiddo#1 was laughing his head off when he told me about this. Ah, yes, the wonder of the tween-age mind. I’d probably have done the same thing when I was a kid.)
The last three weeks, Kiddo#1 has brought a dollar to put into the collection basket at church. I hadn’t told him to do this; neither had his father. But since the beginning of the year, he’s been getting a dollar every Sunday before church and making a point of bringing it.
I’m guessing in part that it’s imitative behavior; right before church every Sunday is the “Oh, I’ve got to get the check” moment, and with his systematic mind, my son may simply have figured That’s What You Do Before Church. It’s not just the joy of putting something into the basket, because he hasn’t been doing that for years now. (Kiddos #2 and 3 are the ones who get the envelope and a spare dollar. Kiddo#2, who gets a dollar a week allowance, began also bringing a dollar to church, but I stopped her as that’s unfair.)
I said to him yesterday, “At religious education, did they tell you about tithing?”
He said, “I don’t know. What is it?”
I replied, “If you don’t know, then they didn’t tell you.”
Because that’s what he’s doing: ten percent of ten dollars is one dollar. It’s probably that a dollar bill is the most convenient thing for him to grab on the way out the door. Regardless, he’s started a precedent (without us telling him to do so, and without him knowing the details of our own contributions) of donating ten percent of his income to charity.
It’s possible he’s seen the amount written on our envelope. It’s possible he’s heard us discussing the subject. But for whatever reason he’s doing it, I’m just letting it go as a good thing. He’s got his priorities in order; he’s got the money; he’s got the safety net. And it’s a habit I hope he continues nurturing throughout his life.