Since the girls were little we've played a little game around our house. If they find a coin laying on the floor -- and it seems like there is always a coin nestled in some remote corner of our house -- they can keep it if they correctly identify it by name and value.
"Mom, this is a quarter and it's worth twenty-five cents."
I hear it fairly often and occasionally wonder how it is that Eric and I drop so much change around the house.
Lately they've both mentioned to me that they are "rich" and that the butterfly dishes in their room are full of money. I just assumed that the coins they've found, coupled with some golden dollars from the Tooth Fairy, were starting to pile up and look like a lot of money.
One should never assume.
Recently the girls had piano lessons. While one has her lesson, the other does her homework and then they swap. Kenna had her piano lesson first and I had to take a phone call outside where I could get reception. Michal had to sit with me on the curb in the parking lot while I talked instead of doing her homework.
She was disappointed that she didn't get to do her homework and decided, when her piano lesson began, that she would spend the first five minutes relaying -- in excruciating detail -- why it was so terribly, earth-shatteringly unfair that I prevented her from doing her homework. Her patient piano teacher listened to her for five minutes before beginning her lesson.
I decided this was a great opportunity to help her understand that piano lessons cost money and she needs to spend the entire time playing the piano not complaining about the injustices of lost homework time.
At least that was my plan.
When we got in the car I explained that she had wasted five minutes of her lesson and since I pay for those lessons she would need to give me $6.00 of her money out of her ceramic butterfly.
She simply said, "That's OK. I have lots of money."
So much for my big teachable moment.
When we got home both she and Kenna ran upstairs and came back downstairs with a $5 bill and one $1 bill.
She proudly announced, "Here's the $6.00."
Now I know that she doesn't have any paper money. Only coins. So I asked where she got $6.00.
"Out of my butterfly," was her matter-of-fact response.
So I tried again. "How did it get in your butterfly?"
"I collected it."
After a little more questioning, I learned that there has been a lot of "collecting" going on. The girls wrongly assumed that they could put any money they found in the house in their butterfly.
And just how much had they found?
One hundred and seventeen dollars!
And that was just the paper money I found in a neatly-folded stack, not the coins heaped underneath those bills. I have clarified that the "found money" rules apply only to coins and only after asking permission first.
And I still can't figure out how they found $117 and I usually can't find enough money in the bottom of my purse for the parking meter.