I Steal Money From My Kid

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steal moneyRecently on Facebook, a mother posted that she had reached rock bottom when it came to parenthood. This is because her child’s tooth fell out that night and she had no change. So what did she do? She took money from her own child’s jar of coins to pay her kid his tooth fairy money. I kind of laughed at this because most of the comments were like, “I’ve done that.” Well, my friends, I’ve done this too.

Not only “borrowing money” from my daughter for the tooth fairy, but also taking money from her wallet to pay the pizza delivery man, or to run out and grab a coffee when I’m too lazy to go to the bank machine first. I always imagined that one day my daughter would be taking money from my wallet, without my knowledge (what teenager hasn’t done this?). But I never imagined that I’d be taking money from her without her knowledge.

It’s so wrong, isn’t it, stealing from loved ones? Not to mention stealing from loved ones who are six to nine years old. Oh, I have excuses. Sometimes I really don’t have cash on me. Sometimes the tooth falls out at night, and it’s either give her a $50 (which, come on, is way too much money for a tooth, and the Tooth Fairy, as we all know, doesn’t give change back under the pillow.) Or I just need tip money for the pizza man and I don’t have five dollars.

My daughter’s wallet usually has about one hundred dollars in it. It’s money I must have given her because I don’t know anyone else who gives her money and she doesn’t have a job, even a part-time one. It’s hard not to feel a little guilty taking money from your own child – especially a child who has just lost their tooth. But isn’t it better to steal or “borrow” money from your own child in this instance when you have none on you? After all, the only fun in losing a tooth IS the arrival of the Tooth Fairy with money in the middle of the night.

Wouldn’t they rather get some money even if the money is coming from them (and they don’t know it)? It’s not so much fun, I think, to get a note from the Tooth Fairy that says, “Sorry. I have to go to the bank machine. I’ll get you tomorrow for sure!” Young children, usually, don’t keep track of their money or how many coins they have collected in jars or piggy banks anyway. Take two dollars from them and they won’t notice.

I’ve taken money from my daughter numerous times and she’s never once noticed. But what I mean by “take” is “borrow.” Because every so often, like every three months, she’ll look into her wallet and say, “I used to have a hundred bucks.” And I’ll tell her the truth, which is that I borrowed the money, and then I’ll tell her I’ll get it back to her later that day. Which I always do. I go to the bank to repay my daughter. (Thankfully, she doesn’t charge interest. Or doesn’t know what interest is.) Then the hundred bucks is back in her wallet, totally forgotten about until three months later, when she looks into her wallet again and asks, “I think I had a hundred dollars in here.” And, again, I’ll say, “Oh I borrowed it. I’ll pay you back later today.”

My daughter doesn’t mind because she knows I always keep my promises of repayment.

Last week my daughter spent time with her father in Aspen skiing. He sent me an e-mail saying, “Rowan just bought her first purchase. It was a t-shirt with a ski patrol symbol on it.”

I wrote back shocked, “With her own money?”

Her father wrote back, “With her own money in the sense that I gave her the money.”

So how bad, really, in desperate times is it to “borrow” money or change from your child’s piggy bank, especially when they are so excited to lose a tooth? Especially when we buy them so much stuff? I don’t think it’s the end of the world. In fact, maybe a learning lesson? Yes, you can borrow. But you have to pay back, that is if they even notice. What worries me the most is what the Tooth Fairy thinks.

(photo: Andrey Burmakin / Shutterstock)