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Burning Questions

Burning Questions September 26, 2006

I had a conversation with our 8-year-old resident sage Sam this weekend that made me remember how different life looks from that vantage point.

Do you remember?

Sam is a meticulous student and committed learner. He was discussing his concerns over the fact that he feels it will be very likely he will need a cell phone sometime in the future.

(The prospect of such an acquisition was clearly one of the most exciting things ever.)


Sam’s concern over his future ownership of a cell phone, however, is that he knows there’s something you have to do about paying for minutes. And the whole system is a deep and mysterious abyss of knowledge that seems, from his 8-year-old vantage point, desperately inaccessible.

I know how he feels, though I don’t recall having these concerns until I was about 18, away at college, and desperately trying to wade my way through owning my first credit card.

Sam asked, “Is there a class in school you have to go to to learn how to get a cell phone?”

I’m not sure, but I don’t think there is one on that particular subject, so I told Sam I thought it was mostly the job of the Mom and Dad to help a kid learn about the mysteries of cell phone financial arrangements.

Sam’s furrowed brow told me he was still concerned (and rightly so, since he was in this conversation with me, whom he knows to be highly inept at helping with 3rd grade math homework).

I reminded him, though, of the intense time his Dad spends with him and his brother and sister every week sorting out allowance. They carefully spread out piggy banks and offering envelopes, bank statements and wallets on the counter; Mark hands out allowance; they each work through the math of allotting tithe, savings and spending; and then they leave the table with a good understanding of where their income is going.

I’m not sure how financial education on payment of cell phone bills will play out in our family, but I told Sam I thought it would be something like that. Dad would sit down with him (not me, I assured him, and his brow smoothed noticeably) and help him understand what he needed to know when the time came for him to know it.

And then I told him I thought he could probably wait a little longer before he needed to take on the responsibility of a cell phone payment.

Then we went back to reading aloud on the couch together.

Oh, to be 8 again!

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