Archive for Thursday, October 17, 2002

Put your money where your kids are

October 17, 2002

In a day and age where investments are about as unpredictable as the Kansas weather, one must ask: Where is the best place to put your dollar?

Recently, the government calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shockand that doesn't even include college tuition.

At first sight, this was definitely an eye-opener, so I decided to break it down so I could better understand where my money was going. Once I did this, it translated into $8,896.66 per year; $741.38 a month; or $171.08 a week. For a mere $24.24 a day or just over a dollar an hour, I can financially support one child.

Just what exactly does $160,000 get you these days? Well, for one thing, you get naming rights first, middle and last. That, in itself, could be a venture when it comes to naming your child.

I can honestly say there are times once they reach teen years that I have actually used names that were far from their birth name.

From this point, the evil in me took over and all I could remember were the difficult times.

I realized I purchased the rights to changing diapers, wiping up drool and wiping runny noses, and giving baths and getting soaked each and every night, trying to figure out if this child would ever take a first step, let alone speak other then crying during the night. I purchased the rights to not enjoy one peaceful good night's sleep.

Then as they got older, I owned the rights to cleaning up skinned knees, broken bones and visits to the emergency room for stitches.

Then came those awful teen years. You know, the years that experienced parents don't talk about and when you mention your child is a teen, they smile and talk in hushes. Many of you parents know this age, but there are those who don't.

My money is now going for a child that I don't even know. I went from raising this nice, well-behaved toddler to raising Satan. Attitude and mouth now dominate the conversation and blood pressure medicine is a daily occurrence.

Why, oh why, am I paying out for this type of behavior? My investment definitely is losing money, because there came a time where riding their bicycle went to driving the family car. It is at this point that I am able to see more money leave my wallet than what is coming in.

Who in their right mind decided that young people can drive legally at 16 and restricted driving at 14 and 15? Sure, it was okay for me when I was that age, but I wasn't a parent then.

Why aren't Buddy Lee's good enough for my kid, and where does it say I have to shell out $150 for tennis shoes?

If you ask me, the government was way out of line when it came to the figure of $160,000. If I had the time or energy, I would definitely come up with a different figure.

I then started thinking that in reality, it hasn't been that bad, and my attitude changed. Looking back at how quickly the time goes by, I may have been a bit harsh on my thinking.

With a renewed attitude, I now remember and miss the giggles under the covers at night. How do you put a price on those evenings where Mom or Dad read their child to sleep or the hugs and kisses waiting for you after a tough day at work? Blowing bubbles or flying kites is a family activity we don't do anymore, and watching Saturday cartoons was priceless. How can you attach a price to the cards and gifts you received from a school project or putting report cards and assignments on the refrigerator? I miss the cards that honor Mom and Dad on Mother's Day or Father's Day.

I soon forgot that I got to be there when they said their first word ever and when they took that big step all by themselves. I will never forget the first bike ride and running alongside holding on.

Celebrating birthdays were days of innocence where most of the cake was on your child rather than on the plate. Those are precious moments that will never be relived and memories that can never be marked with a price tag.

I now realized that $160,000 wasn't enough. I have gained immortality through my children. Another branch is added to the family tree that will one day provide grandchildren. I have learned more from my children and parenting then I could ever learn from a university. I gained the power to heal the scratch on a knee and scare the monsters from under the bed. I have patched broken hearts, learned to make tears go away, and shared hugs no matter what age they are.

If I were asked this questions 10 years, 15 years, even 18 years ago, I would not have been able to address it. But as the time goes by so quickly, I realize there is no amount of money that can replace the experience of parenting. Sure there are tough times, but nothing can compare to the good times.

I have enjoyed their success with smiles and hugs and endured their failures with smiles and hugs, which is all part of the growing up process.

Cherish the time you have with your children, regardless of their age. Believe it when someone tells you that it goes by quickly, because it does.

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