JOPLIN, Mo. —
Our 15-year-old daughter Emma is a reverse ATM machine.
Every time I’m around Emma, she makes my money disappear. In this age of debit cards, I don’t carry a lot of cash, and what I do carry leaves my wallet faster than really good basketball players leave college.
(At the University of Kentucky, some players don’t even bother unpacking.)
The other morning, Emma announced that she and some of the other members of the high school dance team were going to grab a bite to eat after school.
“Can I have some money?” Emma asked.
“I don’t have any on me,” I said. “I can get some later and get it to you after school.”
“Never mind, I’ll just use my own money,” Emma said. Then she made a face that said, “But I really don’t want to use my own money.”
Every month — assuming Emma does the few things that we ask of her — we give her an allowance so she can have a bit of spending money. But Emma doesn’t like to spend her own money. She prefers to spend my money or my wife’s money. As a consequence, my wife and I never have any money while Emma has plenty.
I assured Emma I would pay her back.
“Fine,” she said and then made a face that said, “You better.”
A few days later, I picked Emma up after school. When she got in the car she asked me if I would take to the video store so she could rent a movie. I said I would. Then Emma asked if she could go to a store in town that she really liked.
“They have really cute stuff, and I might want to buy a headband,” Emma said.
I didn’t feel like taking Emma to the store until she said she would use her own money to buy the headband.
“This I’ve got to see,” I said.
I drove Emma home so she could get her debit card, and when she came out she was carrying three DVDs.
“I need to return these,” Emma said. “Oh, and they might be overdue.”
“Great, I can return them with the overdue DVDs your mother wants me to take back,” I said.
When we got to the video store, Emma handed me her DVDs and went off to look at movies.
“Don’t worry,” I said to nobody. “I don’t mind paying your and your mother’s late fees.”
The late fees cost me $14.
Later, at the store with the “cute stuff,” Emma disappeared with a friend who works there. A few minutes later Emma came back carrying a dress, a top, a headband, some bracelets and some sort of bow thing.
When Emma saw the look on my face, she said, “I’m using my own money.”
Later, Emma asked me if she could buy a bracelet she thought her mother might like.
“Sure,” I said.
Then Emma gave me a look that said, “I’m using my own money for this other stuff. Do I have to use my own money for the bracelet?”
I gave Emma a look back that said, “Yes, you do. I’m not caving on this one.”
Then Emma gave me a look that said, “Please?”
I gave her a look that said, “Oh, all right.”
Emma gave her friend a look that said, “That was easy.”
The bracelet set me back $20.
As we drove away from the store, Emma reminded me that she had an early dance practice and asked if I could pick her up something to eat on the way home.
Emma’s early dinner cost me $7.
I gave Emma a face that said, “See why I never have any money?”
And Emma gave me a look that said, “See why I always have money?”
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Our 15-year-old daughter Emma is a reverse ATM machine.
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