At five years old, Austin has figured out that he wants money. Because having money means being able to buy things. And he wants to buy things. But he's smart enough to understand that I'm not just going to give him money.
So, Ryan and I recently started giving him an allowance. If both he and Alex do their list of chores every week -- on Saturdays, we give them one dollar each. It's not a lot of money, but their list of chores is quite short too. Every evening, they have to put the recycling out and they have to make sure their rooms are tidy. For the record, since we started this routine two weeks ago, we have to remind them to do their jobs -- and for the recycling, we have to unlock and open the back door for them -- but the point is, they do it.
Having the kids do a 'job' was, in a round about way, Austin's idea. A few weeks ago, as we were walking home from school, he pointed out that there sure was a lot of garbage on the ground. And there was -- not to stereotype, but we live near a high school and the students there don't always care to put their garbage in the pail (which is only a few feet away from where it gets strewn on the ground). And so, Austin decided to clean up a bit.
At first, I cringed. But then, we lay down the rules of what he can and cannot touch (no cigarettes, no broken bottles and no napkins or Kleenex) and he went to town.
And again the next day. And the next.
But now that he has discovered that he makes money by doing chores at home, he wants to make money elsewhere. No, he's not asking me to pay him to clean up the garbage near the high school.
Instead, he's hunting for beer cans.
Yup. Beer cans. You see, his grandpa told him that he picks up beer cans whenever he sees one on the ground and in return, he gets 10 cents a can from the store. Well Austin thought that was a great idea!
And now, whenever we're walking to the park; going for a bike ride; walking home from school; or even playing at the park -- he's on the lookout for beer cans. But, since he can't really read yet, he picks up an awful lot of Coke and Sprite cans.
But he did find one! One whole beer can hiding in the brush behind the playground. We were with his grandpa and grandpa had just found one on the edge of the brush. This was unacceptable to Austin so he actually went walking through the brush until he found one. And he did.
And he was so excited that he was going to get 10 whole cents!
When we got home from the park, I took the beer can from him, added it to our empties and gave him a dime -- which he proudly put in his piggy bank.
Of course, now that he's found one, he's always on the hunt for more. Maybe if we're lucky, by the time he goes to university, he'll have collected enough cans to pay for it. Then again, in another 9 cans, maybe I'll just take him to the dollar store.