Wednesday, June 20, 2007

6/19/07 Great America

Gabriel went on his first field trip today -- a pretty big one for only his second day at Collins CDC! Great America is a huge amusement park in Santa Clara, and it was an all-day event for him. I really wasn't sure how to pack for him, and ended up with all sorts of problems, like his water bottle didn't fit in his backpack's outer mesh bottle pocket, so it got put into his backpack, and leaked all over everything.

The biggest quandary was lunch. The park doesn't allow you to bring in your own food (I'm sure they make exceptions as necessary), so instead, we were instructed to give him $10 - $30 in cash. But that's all the information they gave us, and I didn't realize the problems until the night before. Obvious things like: who carries the money? And how? I'm supposed to hand a $20 bill to a 5-year-old and expect him to make change and keep track of it?

Answer: yes! Sort of.
I found a pouch to transport the money in, and that got added to his backpack. We sent him with $12, and he came back with $2.80 and a lot of chocolate ice cream on his shirt, so somehow, it all worked out. I don't know how though. (One additional hurdle here is that since Dave did the dropoff and pickup, the teacher-parent communication had to pass through the formidable Father Filter, through which only the most salient of information fragments survive.)

So, Gabriel spent all day at a huge amusement park, got hamburger and chocolate ice cream and no doubt other junk food, rode on a roller coaster and other rides, plus his first school bus to get there -- all sorts of exciting stuff!

But the only thing he wanted to talk about was the money. The $2.80 he came home with.

He really wanted to know how much it all added up to. Dave showed him, then I did again, what each coin was, and how many cents it was worth. The concept that one coin could be worth more than another took a few times, but he seemed to accept it, if not understand it. It helped that some coins say how many cents they're worth, though I got a crash course in the US Mint when I discovered that dimes are apparently too small to print "ten cents" on.

Though he had a hard time remembering how much each coin was worth, it wasn't long before he was able to add up simple amounts, like 6 cents or 15 cents.
Then I made up a game that he LOVED: he had to "buy" each part of his dinner. So, green beans cost him 7 cents, rice cost him 16 cents, and chicken cost him 20 cents. For each item, he carefully picked out the right coins, and handed them to me, then I'd put the item on his plate, and put the coins back in his pile. I created a monster, because now he wants to do that for everything. But I also used this little lesson as a segue to suggest that he can earn money for extra jobs!

I've read that you can/should start kids on an allowance as young as 3, which seems way way WAY too young to me. But, Gabriel might be ready for an allowance, in small token amounts, since he's far from making rational spending decisions.

I can't believe firstborn is really truly no longer a preschooler. And now that he's going to a place that's oriented for school-age kids, he's in a brand-new phase of life. I have to admit, I got a little choked up at his pre-K "graduation" all seems so significant -- and so exciting and wonderful, really. I just love seeing my firstborn turn into a genuine person.

Now, if only my second-born would drop the obnoxious toddler sh*t. And if only my third-born would stay an innocent, charming, giggly, squeaky, smiley, batting, adorable baby forever.


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