Playing shoe store; or how not to educate your children about money

In order to understand the dynamics of this Friday afternoon game I played with the two kids, it helps to understand the pre-event that quite possibly determined the outcome of this game.

It’s Friday after-school pickup time and after some rain during the week, Benjamin is very happy to see that I brought the soccer ball along. He and a bunch of boys start their soccer game while I chat with another mom about a bully situation in one of the classrooms at this same school.

While I talk to her and to another mom, I keep an eye on Sonja who is dressed in a green Tinkerbell costume and showing off her wand to some other girls in the playground area of the school yard. It’s getting later, and colder, and some of the soccer players head home. Ben and two boys start to wrestle and roll around on the grass, and then break up and run off into different directions.

I see Ben out of the corner of my eye run straight toward Sonja and her group of girls. Even before it happens, I know it’s about to happen…he sucker-punches her from behind and runs to hide behind some structure.

She’s not hurt, but she’s upset. So are all the other little girls. They all come running toward me, calling “Sonja’s MOOOOMMMM, Benjamin just pushed her down!”.

Funny how they won’t call me by my real name….

I’m already abandoning the mom I was talking to and walk toward Ben. I’m not happy with him and want to prevent further incidents. I KNOW my kid, he probably didn’t realize just how hard he pushed her, nor was it likely a premeditated event in his head. He had just finished wresting and playing soccer, was all riled up and agitated, and had to cause a little trouble to get attention.

Which doesn’t excuse the behaviour, but I’m just saying, I know things about my kid that the other parents who shot me a dirty look don’t.

So I approach Ben and he saw that I wasn’t happy. Tries to climb up something and away from me. He sees the other little girls following, and some of them are quite happy to see that the troublemaker boy will now get into trouble.

I’m very aware of this, and make a huge effort to contain myself so as not to embarrass my kid, but still, he has to be dealt with.

I pull him aside, give him a very serious consequence to pushing or punching anyone for any reason whatsoever, and herd the two kids to go home.

Fast forward to home:

Little Sonja received a huge bag of shoes from a friend which she now wants to play with. The shoes are too big for her now, and some of them inappropriate for her personality (heels, or wedge-type shoes will not go over well with my monkey-child) but I allow her to play with them for the moment.

She has her cash register out and a bag, and assigns me the responsibility of shoe clerk. This is what happens next:

She has some money and tells me she wants to buy shoes. She has her bag, picks her shoes, gives me her play money to pay for them, and we play. After a while she only had a $5 bill left.

I say: for this amount you can only get some flip flips, the other shoes are more expensive.

She is not impressed. She says: but I gave you all the money.

I say: yes you did and you bought shoes with that money.

She says: but I don’t have any more money.

I say: well maybe you could get a job and earn some money? What are you good at? (I’m trying to play but also be a little bit educational with her, too).

She said she doesn’t want a job, she just wants to go to the bank and take the money out.

I say: ok, but how did the money get into the bank? Who put the money in your bank account?

She doesn’t know (she’s in role playing now, so who knows what she’s thinking). She starts getting upset. I try to adjust. I say: well Miss, perhaps you would like to exchange some shoes, maybe the ones you bought don’t fit you right?

Now she’s all upset about not having any more money. She wants me to take her money out of the cash register and give it back to her. But I’m the shoe clerk, so I try to gently stay in the role playing and come up with alternative answers for her to pick new shoes. She is not interested. She sits there thinking.

Ben disappears (he’s been sitting quietly watching and occasionally whining).

I say: well Miss perhaps when you get a job you can come back and buy more shoes.

Ben comes back. Gives Sonja a handful of new play money.

I say: or perhaps you have a rich brother who gives you money so you can buy more shoes?


They’re both kind of looking at me. I can tell they’re not really in a good mood. Normally they would be all over this kind of thing and their imagination would run away with them. But they didn’t really play that way. So I tried a new spin on it.

I say: I wonder where your rich brother got this money from.

Sonja says: the bank.

I say: oh he is a bank robber! (they love to play criminals and police and chase ‘bad guys’ and put them in jail).

Well, this made Ben wail like a baby, and Sonja got mad at me for making such a suggestion and cried that I made him cry….so I had to quit.


I say to them that we could play this game another time when they’re in a better mood and we’ll have supper now.

I don’t know what was up, but it was a very unusual situation. Exhaustion and over-stimulation plus that incident earlier that caused us some grief at the playground may have been the reason…still. It was very unlike those two kids.

Perhaps Benjamin took it personally when I made the reference of claiming he was a criminal, considering how he had behaved toward his sister at the school yard. Especially after he made the attempt to help her out of her dilemma of not having enough money to buy more shoes….trying to make amends, maybe?

I don’t know.

My poor kids.


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