The other day, Bird said to me, “We are learning about wants and needs in school. Did you know that some kids don’t get an allowance?”
I said, “Hmm, yes, I knew that. Why?”
“Well, Mrs. Elder said she didn’t get an allowance growing up. Did you know most of my class doesn’t get an allowance? Why do you give me one?”
“You get a small allowance for the chores we give you because I believe it is never too early to start learning to earn your own money. How did this come up in class?”
“Well, we are learning about wants and needs, so Mrs. Elder asked the class, ‘Who here does NOT get an allowance?’ and most of the kids raised their hand. Mrs. Elder said that allowance is a WANT not a NEED and that she didn’t get one growing up because her parents couldn’t afford to give her one.”
I made some noncommittal sound to Bird, but in my head I was thinking, “What kind of question is that? How is that her business? Or the business of any of the kids in the class? Why on earth would she need to know or have all the other kids know who is getting money from their parents and who is not?”
Teachers, this is something you don’t ask your kids. This is not your business or their business. At all.
I’m relieved that she didn’t ask how much everyone who got an allowance received. (For the record, Bird’s is $5 a week if she does her chores and $1 a week deducted for each day her chores are missed.) But, still, what a way to rub in everyone’s face that some kids get more than other kids. As if that wasn’t obvious enough.
And I have to admit that I wonder about her own potential issues on the subject of money and who has it and who doesn’t.
So, teachers, this is something you don’t ask.
You know what I wish you would ask, though? I wish you’d ask the parents and the kids what their average day looked like. I wish you’d know whose parents are stay-at-home, and whose parents work outside of the home, and whose folks are working two jobs. I wish you you’d know what an average day looks like for each kid. For example, for Bird:
Up at 6am
School until bus to her Grandma’s
At Grandma’s by 3:15
Homework and playtime
5pm picked up by parent
Gymnastics or Piano or home depending on the day
Between 5pm and 8pm, we have to scrunch in any after school activity, feeding dogs, dinner, chores, reviewing school work, ferreting out info on Bird’s day, spending family time or playing with a friend, reading books, and then to bed. It’s a lot. She usually isn’t in bed until 9pm because we can’t make it all fit.
That’s us with one child and two working parents. I’d like her teacher to know that so that she can better understand Bird and her life. I don’t want her teacher knowing that she gets an allowance. That’s a fraught question to say the least.
Seriously, this teacher is pinging all of my buttons this year. Gotta get through, oh, eight more months of her. Maybe she’ll improve.