The concept of money, superficially at least, is an easy one for most adults to grasp.
You’ve got these little slips of paper with different numbers written on them. You give these slips of paper to someone and that person will give you, well, stuff.
Easy, right? Until you start getting into just what — exactly — that slip of paper is worth. Because, when you get down to it, that slip of paper is only worth something because we — all of us — choose to continue to believe that it’s worth something. The same goes for almost every single currency. If we suddenly believed that the Beanie Baby was the preferred currency. . . It could work.
Still, this abstract sort of thing is difficult for a lot of young dudes and dudettes to grasp.
I don’t think I or my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Making Deals, made things any easier for our middle little dude, known to us now as Zippy the College Boy, when we let him pay for something using his binky. For those of you who don’t know, a binky is what we called a pacifier.
So here’s the deal: Zippy the Binky Boy loved his binky. And when I say loved, I mean LLLLOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEDDDDD his binky. He’d pop it in when he got angry. He’d pop it in when he was contemplative. He’d pop it in when he was sleepy. And, you know the opposite of all those things? Also occasion for him to pop the binky into his mouth and start sucking.
Unfortunately for him, it was time for him to give it up. Mostly because we were getting tired of the sound. Slurp, slurp, slurp. It gets old. And, when he’d lose it in his sleep that led to a lot of loud late-night screams. For his older brother, the proto-Sarcasmo, giving up the binky was easy. He had a horrible cold at 6 months and couldn’t breathe through his nose. So he gave up the binky.
Zippy the Binky Boy? Not so easy.
After more unsuccessful attempts than I care to remember at renaming Zippy the Binky Boy, his mom and I finally hit on a solution. We figured that, since he loved animals, possibly more than he loved his binky, we could use that love to leverage the binky away. If we worked it right, we could actually get him to give away his binky and like it.
So we went for a walk down near a nice bunch of shops, one of which sold toys. We took Zippy the Binky Boy by the place, pointed out the really cool clear plastic tube of animal figures, got him really interested and then forced him to keep walking. He was livid. He wanted that tube of animals.
At that point, his mom snuck away and went back to the store. She went in and found out how much the tube of animals was and then paid for it. Then she put back the tube and told the guy that we’d be coming back and asked if he would pretend to accept the binky as currency to pay for the animals.
He said sure. As long as he didn’t have to actually touch the slimy thing. The binky, not the boy. Not that I could blame him.
And so we took Zippy the Binky Boy back into the store, him sniffling and rubbing away snot and tears on his arm. He saw the tube of animals and clutched them to his chest.
“Mine,” he said.
Then we told him he had to pay for them. He managed to say he didn’t have any money. The store owner played his part perfectly. He leaned down and said that he’d gladly take a binky in payment for the tube of animals.
Out came the binky and Zippy the Animal Boy clutched his tube even closer. He stayed happy all the way home until it was time for bed. Then he climbed into bed with his tube of animals and asked for his binky. He needed it to sleep, you see.
We reminded him about how he paid for the tube of animals with his binky.
Then he snuggled up to his tube of animals and went right to sleep.
He never looked back, but he did have a habit for several years after of hauling out an old binky he’d found and trying to pay for things with it. We had to tell him it had been a special binky or a special store.
So, why did I go through all this trouble to tell you the story?
No real reason. It’s just that I found the tube of animals in the attic the other day and I couldn’t stop smiling for a long while after so I thought I’d share it with you dudes.
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