Monday, June 9, 2008

A Fool and His Money Play Video Games and Buy Comic Books

We finally put a real plan in place for the kids to start earning allowances tonight. They've done little things to earn money from time to time in the past, like getting things for Danelle when she tore her ACL skiing earlier this year. But we've now got a list of chores for them to do -- making their beds, putting their clean clothes away and the like -- and they'll both get a dollar every week for their trouble.

Taryn was overjoyed. A dollar is apparently still a lot of money to a four-year-old. Zak, however, may be a little more familiar with child labor laws. "A dollar?!? I'll need to get my allowance 60 times before I can buy the Indiana Jones video game!" He's always been pretty good at math.

A dollar happens to be the same amount I got back when I was 13 for doing things like poop scooping, taking out the trash and mowing the lawn. And I'd usually take my dollar and head to the drugstore at the end of the street to pick out a comic book. Titles like X-Men and Avengers were among my favorites. But of course, I'd have to carefully peruse most of the available selections before making such an important purchase decision.

Comics were 65 cents back then, so I'd still have enough left to go next door to Grandma's Pie Shop. Not for pie, but to play one of the two video games they had in their entryway -- Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga.

Video games cost a quarter so this was always another tough choice. I was better at Galaga which meant I typically went that way so I could play longer and really get my money's worth.

My electronic entertainment appetite sated for another week, it was back home to read my newly acquired literary masterpiece. Or re-read it, depending how long I'd taken at the drugstore.

I actually still have my entire comic book collection, put together not only from those weekly purchases but also flea market trips and subscriptions. With X-Men, Iron Man, Fantastic Four and other superheroes still popular I'm looking forward to Zak enjoying them one day.

I also got a Namco Museum collection for my PlayStation 2 a few years ago that had a bunch of classic arcade games, including my beloved Galaga. I can still get a perfect score on Galaga's first challenging stage by waiting until the last shot of the previous stage to get my double fighter, then leaving it right in the default position and firing away from there. Always been proud of myself for figuring that out.

I'm not sure what my kids will do with the dollars they start earning. Obviously they won't go as far now as they did 25 years ago, but that's not really the point. I'll be happy if they just take their chores seriously, take pride in their work and start to learn the connection between putting in effort and getting things they want.

Who am I kidding? I'll be happy when Zak finally has enough cash to buy that Indiana Jones game. It looks cool!

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