Please keep in mind this story was written in 2008, since it has a bearing with respect to the ages of our children, as noted in brackets.
Towards the end of May, our daughter, Tammy-Li (aged 5), needed ten dollars for the “book fair” at her school. This set off a chain reaction of serpentine financial dealings that was awesome in its complexity.
By the way, there is a whole cottage industry based on selling “stuff” to kids at school. Items range from jackets with the school logo on them through special meals, book fairs and trips to pick strawberries, pumpkins, apples and who knows what all else.
The vendors realize they have a captive market because no self-respecting parent can say no when the other children are being treated. However, most of the time, the Carrick family’s capacity for low self-esteem is under-estimated and we do find the fortitude to resist temptation.
My wife works hard as an accounts receivable manager and takes care of her own money. But on that day, she was running short. Plus the gas gauge on the van was dinging because it was only a vapour or two away from being out of fuel. I had noticed this the night before when I was jockeying the cars to get the jeep into the garage.
Donna got the ten dollars in change from my drawer in the bureau, but she also needed money for gas. Unfortunately, I was busted because I had spent whatever extra I had the night before on Mothers’ Day cards, but I couldn’t tell her that.
Therefore, Donna went to our second son (aged 9) for gas money. He accumulates his money from the weekly allowance he receives and never spends it on anything but gum. He’s become like the Federal Reserve to his parents, the lender of last resort. But he never lets us forget it when we have to turn to him in a pinch. It makes the whole exercise barely worth it.
Donna did borrow $60 from Ted, with the promise that dad would pay him back that night. I wondered how come I was suddenly involved
However, this did crank up my thought processes. Our oldest son (aged 23) is now working and paying us rent. That’s great, but there must be some way to get more money out of him. Then it came to me. Donna and I had all of the family’s taxes done, including Tom’s, in early April. Surely Tom owed a portion of the auditing bill. A magic number came to mind, $60.
Tom, maybe naively, understood his financial responsibility and said he’d have the money for me later that day. The timing delay meant I now needed “bridge financing” for lunch money. On the way to work, I stopped at the ATM machine and took out something on our line of credit. This left me in the same position I have found myself in throughout much of my working life, praying for my next pay cheque.