Scary Mommy | 

When I was in first grade, I had a terrible time understanding the unit on money and the concepts of counting and calculating change. I can remember sitting in my classroom, brow furrowed, gripping my No. 2 pencil, as I tried to make sense of the different sized coins. As I stared at the mimeographed worksheet, I felt frustrated that the coins weren’t ranked in value by their size. When my 6-year-old self announced that “money was stupid” and declared that I’d never use money ever, my teacher called my parents and suggested that maybe a little extra study time at home would be in order.

My father spent a rainy afternoon on the floor with me and a pile of coins trying to explain the different currencies and values. After stubbornly declaring that I thought that nickels deserved to be worth more because they are bigger than dimes, my father let out an exasperated sigh. He continued to be patient as he calmly explained money counting, and a few hours, some tears, and an ice cream to celebrate later, I had finally grasped the basics of Money 101.

And now, as I am trying to teach my own kids the value of a dollar, I understand why my dad poured a Scotch on the rocks and made it a double on that rainy night when I was 6. Teaching kids about money is hard work and helping them understand the value of a dollar can feel impossible. I also still feel that the nickel got a bum rap, but that’s a different story.

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