2007.10.17 Cashing in on your kids

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Maddie and I flew down I-75 this weekend for a whirlwind visit with Rozee—a mother-daughter micro-vacation of eating and shopping. It was supposed to be a hiking and ogling the fall colors mini-vacation with David, too, but he stayed home to work and the leaves haven’t turned much in Berea either, so eating and shopping it was.

We never went hiking at all. We just shopped. And ate. And shopped. We closed Macy’s which was open until 11 p.m. for a special sale and were still eating dinner at midnight.

In our post-shopping and eating stupor the next day, nobody realized we came home with one of Rozee’s warmest garments. I sent it back to her immediately on Monday, with a hastily written note.

As I dashed off that note to her, I realized that all my handwritten notes to my children are hasty little affairs. We are in communication on a fairly regular basis by e-mail and phone so I hardly ever take the time to compose a real letter. In my basement I have many shoe boxes and cigar boxes of letters from friends and family. It’s been ages since I’ve looked at them, but they are there if I ever care to.  My children won’t have such letters, and neither will I from them.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but when mourning the loss of “real” letters from my children I have only to recall the wonders of e-mail: I can write to all three of them at the same time, get instant answers with my letter in the body of theirs so I can see what I had written that evoked what they have written. No more, “Huh, what’s he talking about?” while reading hand-written responses to letters composed days or weeks before.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote to my kids about this amazing idea I heard in a QuickBooks accounting class I’m taking at Vo-Tech. The content of the class is very useful and absorbing, but it’s before class and during breaks that you really learn a thing or two. Here’s what I wrote to my kids:

There's this kind of wild hippie-ish woman in my quickbooks class. she looks and sounds like anne heche so maybe hippie isn't the word. but every week she says something funny and/or outlandish. this week she had the most amazing announcement...her five kids were each going to give her 5% of their salaries for her retirement. she said when her youngest, who's 19, graduates from med school that's when it's supposed to start.  one of her kids came up with the idea. she said when the time comes she's going to sell her house and buy a winnebago and hit the road, the rest of her life all financed by her kids.

“So, what do you think?!” I asked.

Maddie weighed in first: what quickbooks class? i think it depends on our salaries.

Ben said: if i was about to graduate from med school and be a rich doctor i probably wouldn't think anything of it either.

Rozee barraged me with questions: Who is anne heche? Since there are only 3 of us would you charge us more than 5%? One good thing to notice in your description - the youngest is going to med school. That means the kid will have money. Is it just out of the kids' salaries or their spouses too?

I was utterly amazed. Not one of them said, “Dream on, Momma, it ain’t gonna happen!”

There’s hope for my future!

But not really. I wrote this to Maddie and then copied it to Ben and Rozee:

i thought the concept was amazing but also extremely weird. i mean if you were married would your husband want to do that? and what about his parents? hmm, maybe they would get 5% too and it would be like tithing 10% to the church but giving it to your parents instead. i can joke about coming to live with you but i don't think i could take 5% of your salary. maybe if all our retirement money ran out before we did, it would be a nice solution, but right now it just seems too weird and too much to expect of your children. she said all her kids will be making at least $100,000 per year.

I think I should have had a heck of a lot more kids if something like this were to really work. And I should have pushed them into more profitable careers.

Ben’s making a pretty good living and staying afloat in Miami, but so far my daughters’ financial picture isn’t looking too pretty.

Rozee will be graduating next May with a sociology major and a peace and social justice minor qualifying her for...grad school? She’s also planning to go into the Peace Corps—not exactly lucrative in the five percent department. And as a U of M freshman, Maddie keeps falling asleep every time she reads her text books—a clue to her future earning potential?

What’s to become of future mother-daughter excursions? We may have to invite Ben along—he’ll be the only one rich enough to pick up the tab.

 

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