June 24th, 2006

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PORTRAIT OF THE STARVING ARTIST AS A YOUNG GIRL

Overnight, it seems, my daughter has become obsessed with money. She and Martin have had piggybanks since they were very small, promotional items from our bank, two fat translucent piggies with a lock in the bottom, one red, one blue. They have collected coins of all denominations and currencies up to and including the plastic ones that came with her Baby's First Cash Register.

We are careful not to indiscriminately purchase everything and anything our children desire, perhaps sometimes to the point of going overboard (I have steadfastly refused to let any other form of gaming enter the household besides PC games) but I really firmly believe that they already have too much stuff, of which more than half sits on shelves and collects dust the vast majority of the time. Before we did a massive cleanout some months ago, the amount of little plastic toys in the playroom was truly staggering. Thus, my parental parsimony when it comes to indiscriminate purchases.

They used to play with the coins they had collected in their piggybanks much the same way they played with their plastic animals or Pokémon figures: lining them up, putting them in groups based on their similarities (copper-colored, silver-colored, holes-in-the-center). But lately, they are counting the values of the coins, adding up how much money they have, and making distinctions between the coins that can be used here (Swedish kronor, Euros when we're in Germany, Danish kronor when we're in Copenhagen) and the ones that are, for all intents and purposes, worthless: plastic, out-of-circulation, retired). Since we have no plans to travel to the States any time soon, the American coins tend to end up in that last pile.

Martin learned during math lessons the value of money, the various denominations and how to add and subtract them. Karin hasn't had those lessons yet, but an instinctively covetous nature has suddenly blossomed and our Little Mercenary is determinedly squirreling away every bit of cash she can get her hands on and begging me to take her to the mall so she can "buy new toys." She's actually been twice to the mall, heavy wallet stuffed with coins clutched in her hand, and carefully stalked up and down the aisles of the toy stores without finding anything that was worth parting with her money for (to my surprise).

They are not allowed to buy candy, except when we buy it with them for Friday/Saturday myskvälls (10 pieces each) and they don't, yet, get any kind of allowance. We have talked about instituting some sort of earning system, but not yet done anything about it, and have joked with the kids that they can earn money quickly from us by learning how to clean toilets and mop floors. So far, they haven't taken us up on it.

Yesterday, after our midsummer celebration feast with friends up in Älmhult, we were regaling our companions with tales about Karin's prowess in providing her own musical accompaniment in the form of underarm-farting. I never learned this fine art, but Karin, under her father's tutelage, has become a master and can keep the—er—beat to any tune she chooses. She has brought us to tears and gasping with her renditions of Mössens Julafton and other childhood tunes, both Swedish and English.

Last week, she reduced us to incoherent laughter by pooting along at superspeed to the German song that I taught the kids for John and Simone's wedding (we never actually sang it at the wedding, but we DID sing it—sans underarm accompaniment—for Simone's parents, much to their delight). So, of course, our friends wanted to see the prodigy for themselves, but she refused to perform, pleading stage fright and repeatedly declaring that it was too embarrassing...until I told her to ask for 10 kronor from her audience members for an exclusive performance. You could practically see the kronor signs replace the lens' in her eyes, just like Scrooge McDuck. She agreed, provided I sang with her.

Judging from the reactions and the amount of money she raked in, I think we've got a star on our hands, if we can just find a stage manager who can keep a straight face.

A Bonanza of Birthday Wishes to verian!
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