Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

We have never really believed in giving the kids an allowance. Occasionally we give them money for chores, but they have to go "above and beyond" as we feel that helping out the family is just part of family life. As a result it takes the kids ages to make a little bit of money. Not that they need money. My kids are spoiled rotten; new bikes last summer, Nintendo DS's for Christmas and Happy Meals whenever I feel like it. I rarely leave the store without buying a little something for the kids.

But this week Lainy Ann has to pay for her own school lunch. I don't like my kids to eat school lunch. I have a host of reasons from expense to crappy food. Instead I make them mostly organic, definitely all natural lunches. Each day I make PB&J then the older kids are responsible for packing their lunches. They can choose from several different fruits, granola bars, crackers, fruit leather, yogurt, cheese, etc. The boys do fine with just a sandwich and fruit since the school provides them with milk and an afternoon snack. But Lainy Ann, well, she has been able to out-eat me for a long time and she uses all that energy. She ends up taking 5 things for lunch.

At the beginning of the school year I put $60 on her school lunch card, that would get her 30 lunches through out the year in case I was out of bread or just wanted to give her a treat. She used it up pretty quickly and then we got a bill for $20. She had been buying lunch even though she was taking her lunch. She got in trouble for wasting food and lying to me. Occasionally she has taken not enough food and then eaten school lunch. Again we talk to her about proper food choices and about how its too expensive to buy lunch all the time.

Today she brought home another bill, $10. She tried to work up some tears so I would be sympathetic and not punish her. Instead, she said, "I"m sorry mommy, I will pay for it." And I decided there was no better punishment than it directly affecting her pocketbook. She had to scrounge up her last dollar bills to make it work.

I'm hoping this really drives home the fact that she needs to be responsible in packaging her lunch each day. Making good financial choices starts early on, hopefull we have begun that process.

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