First Lessons in Economics

Late last week my oldest lost his second tooth. It was quite the Event, complete with tears and blood and several hours of wiggly-tooth anxiety. St. Nick does everything at 110%, including losing baby teeth.

Hopes for the Tooth Fairy sustained him through it, and his hopes were not disappointed. But with a second tooth, like with a second child, it got the same excitement but it got a little less attention.

The Tooth Fairy made a special trip to the bookstore for the first fall-out and she had to enlist a few dozen of her fairy friends to help her tuck the monster-sized book about Noah’s Ark underneath Nick’s pillow. This time, no special trips. TF tucked a $1 bill under that pillow and added in an edible treat.

St. Nick was just as thrilled. He’s been holding his dollar ever since, scouring toy catalogues (which we have in plenty this time of year) for something to buy. The only problem being, his prize won’t even cover shipping costs, let alone the price of the least expensive item in the book (a set of plastic boats for $9.95).

And here I thought TF was being extravagant. A whole dollar? When I was a child, I got a quarter and a pack of gum. I couldn’t buy much more than a candy bar with a quarter, and I thought TF was horribly cheap; I’d rather have kept my tooth and made it into some strange native jewelry. But now, with a dollar, St. Nick is in the same situation. When did a dollar become worth so little? And why does my son have to learn that money, outside its potential to purchase, means nothing?

He’s not cynical about it yet. A dollar is still the coolest thing he’s ever owned. But it grieves me that once it’s spent, he’ll have nothing but a trinket or a candy bar. Maybe he should just keep the money.