He has been waiting for months. Maybe even years. It is actually happening this AFTERNOON. He is so excited.
I remember this excitement. I remember spending the morning with my mother at a children’s concert at the Boston’s Symphony Hall, my body vibrating at a frequency higher than the violin strings. I hissed in a not whisper to someone’s grandmother “I’m getting an Atari 2600. Right after this concert. We are driving straight to the store and the next time I will be home I will have it.”
I remember my mother shushing me and tugging at my arm and trying to hold inside the feeling of pure elation that wanted to spill out in words and dancing and shrieks of glee. I remember they “taught” us what a tuba was, even though I was going to the conservatory three times a week by then, and with each bellowing burst of the beast I felt like time was stretching out. Streeeeeeeetching. And I didn’t think I could wait.
But I made it, and we got the Atari, and I played it for 4 days and that was sort of that. No question the anticipation was the best part. That and the tuba.
Oliver has been asking for a bank account for about a year now. I keep telling him. Yes. We will get one. But we don’t actually go and get one. I don’t understand the thrill. I do remember the power I felt when I first had an ATM card and I walked through the world as if it just wanted spit cash at me, but Oliver has his cash on hand. Why is the bank better?
He explains to me about interest rates, and how his money will earn money, and I am a mix of proud of, alienated from and sad for him. I mean, his $75 will earn very very little. And it will mean bank statements. More miserable mail.
I don’t explain to him how much I loathe banks, and my father before me, perhaps the greatest invention ever is the app that allows me to deposit checks without stepping foot into the overwrought vestibule with the super polite bank people. It sucks in there.
He is different than me, never splurging, the classic kid who will wait 2 days for 10 m and ms instead of taking 2 today. I know it will serve him well, but I just cant relate to him. A few summers ago when we went shopping for a boat he wrinkled his nose in confusion. Why would we want a boat? We have one…and pointed at the deflated dinghy by the beach. As much as we fill our lives with creature comforts he eschews them all. Give him one blanket to wrap up in, one pack of pokemon cards and the Pokemon essential handbook and he will be all set.
In the three years we have given him allowance he has spent $5 on himself, on a pack of Pokemon cards. He has given cash to his brother, to a few non profits, purchased things that his friends were selling at various stands, donated to his classroom, and spent loads of money on birthday presents for friends.
Why have I denied him the pleasure of a bank account? I guess I just don’t believe that he wants it as much as he says he does. But this afternoon after school that will all change. We are headed to the bank. Where he will bring his carefully creased bills and hand them over to a higher power. Then we will go to the bookstore and replace his essential pokemon handbook. He has read through the last one, it is held together with clips and rubber bands. He is planning to pay for it.
But it will be my treat.
Have your kids been excited about a bank account? What about you? Are you more on the Atari side, or the Alex P. Keaton side?