Last night, Ace opened his birthday card from Grandma Carol and out popped TWO $5 bills. He was SO excited. This morning he was still excited and wanted to SPEND his money and he wanted to buy a toy. What kid wouldn't? :) I briefly reminded him of past 'lessons' I had tried to teach him regarding the concept of saving... since most adults fail to find the benefit or strength to do this I can hardly have any faith that my little (gasp) three year old will, so instead we moved onto other lessons: thank you cards and tithing.
When I was younger my mother always was quick to have me write a thank you card to my great aunt whenever she would send us money or around Christmas time an ornament. Before we could spend the money we had to write a thank you. I remember as I got a little older that it was funny that we wrote my great aunt a thank you, but never my grandparents and they always gave us a lot too. As I got a little older I began to understand that I thanked them in person, whereas my great aunt I wasn't able to thank in person and thus the thank you note was a polite way to say thank you from afar.
I want my kids to have a similar understanding of the complexities of the 'Thank You' as they grow up too. To at least have a written a thank you or two in their existence. In today's day and age there are even more mediums by which to thank people and for Ace's birthday gifts he has now used them all: in person, digital format, and the written word. Grammie (and others) gave him his present in person and so he said thank you to her directly. Gran and Pop Pop mailed him his present and he thanked them digitally on Skype. Grandma Carol mailed him his card with his birthday money and Ace 'wrote' her a thank you card.
I talked to him about the importance of being grateful for the people in his life and if they give him things, thankful for those too. I further pressed upon his the concept that he is not entitled to anything. He is not owed anything. It's possible all of these concepts went over his head, but repetition and the questions of 'why' will help it to eventually sink in and hopefully help prevent him from becoming a spoiled brat. No one likes those kids and I don't want to raise one certainly. It isn't his nature and so I think we'll be fine, but a little explanation and understanding never hurt anyone. :)
The next thing we discussed regarding his money was about tithing. In our household we hold to the truth that everything is from God and that because of that we should without question 'give back' to God with what He has provided us. This is summed up in short with the word 'tithe' and today I introduced Ace to that concept. It's kind of a big concept to press upon a three year old, but I think starting early on generosity and Godly giving is key to raising a Godly man and therefore whenever the opportunity presents itself Loving Husband and I will happily bring it back to that.
Ace and I discussed that everything belongs to God (a concept we talk about in terms of sharing and his toys often) and that includes money and that we should give some of that money back to God and be obedient to what He asks of us. Ace did ask why and we continued to talk about it, but he never hesitated with a 'no' just more a curious understanding. I asked him how much did he think he should give to God out of his $10 (me holding up 10 fingers to make the impact of how much he really did have) and he said a 'tiny bit' I asked him what a 'tiny bit' looked like to him (still holding up my fingers) and he said $1. Well considering that's 10% and often a very standard # many Christians choose to give I said that would be a good idea. Then he remembered he had another $1 in his room and he ran upstairs to get that one and excited to say "Let's give this one to Jesus!" and I asked the clarifying question you want to give $2 to Jesus? And he said "No just the one, THIS one." Well ok... $1 out of $11 when that's all the money in the world and to give it without hesitation is still a pretty good amount. In fact, to Ace's credit - he had been saving that ONE dollar for a long time, so to give it up to God is pretty huge. And so with that $1 set aside to take to church on Sunday we headed to the store to buy something!
We went to Michael's. Weird place to buy toys, you say? Maybe, but they do have an entire aisle of Melissa and Doug toys and I had a 40% off coupon to use. So I knew that he'd have several choices of things that he'd love. He decided on a guitar! $14.99 with a 40% off coupon, + tax and Ace left the store with a guitar and $0.38 - which when the lady handed him the change he squealed with elation "I get MORE MONEY!" Yes, I suppose you do, son. :) It was a good morning.