He's Takin' What I'm Givin' 'Cause He's "Workin'" For a Livin'

Kostyn has recently discovered money. I think that’s partly because his daddy has been talking to him about why he has to go to work every day (which Kostyn hates), and partly because he just likes coins. He likes holding them, collecting them, keeping them from his brother and dropping them into his blue piggy bank that’s actually a bear.

So now that he kind of understands that people work for money, he has begun asking me if he can work for money. But, it turns out, he doesn’t want to work very hard, and by “very hard” I mean “at all.”

We had this exchange recently:

Kostyn: “Look, I have some money for work.” He handed me a penny and a small round piece of rubber. “Mommy, I want some money. I need some money to buy things.”

“Really?” I said absentmindedly, handing back his stash and continuing to put away his clean laundry.

“Give me some money,” he said, more to the point. “I need an urn.”

“You need an urn?” I asked, imagining him filling an urn with found coins and random rubber toy parts.

“Yes, I want money to earn.”

“Ohhh, EARN,” I said. “You want to earn some money? You need a job to do?”

“Yes I need a job,” he said excitedly. “What job can I do?”

“Well I wish you’d asked me that yesterday, because I just cleaned the whole house,” I said. “But you can help me set the table later.”

“Uhh, no.”

“OK,” I said, heading downstairs. He followed me, undeterred by my utter lack of interest in handing over cash for nothing.

“I need a job, mommy. I need to earn something. Like work,” he said so earnestly I thought he was serious.

“Well I’m about to sweep the kitchen floor. Want to help me do that?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I need an easy job.”

“Heh. Don’t we all,” I said, getting out the broom.



“What about music. I could play music all day long,” he said.

“For money?” I asked.

“Yes, I can play music and I will earn money!” he said, the scheme coming into focus in his little brain.

“Well, you could do that someday, sure,” I said, imagining I was giving a pep talk to the next Yo-Yo Ma or Bruce Springsteen. “It will take a lot of practice and hard work, but you could be a musician and make money.”

“Will you give me money to play music?” he said, apparently aiming to skip the “years of practice and discipline” stage.

“Uh, no," I said. I might give you some to stop playing, I added under my breath, but he had already disappeared into the other room. Then I heard the faint sounds of the boys’ musical Sit ‘n’ Spin playing. It’s among the most annoying musical toys they own, and every time I hear it I vow to secretly remove the batteries the next time they’re asleep.

He returned 20 seconds later, stepping all over the pile of crumbs I’d just swept up.

“OK Mommy! I played music! Where’s my money?!” he said.

“What? You didn’t play music,” I said. “You pressed a button.”

He considered this truth, then countered. “But I danced.”

I looked at him.

“And sang,” he said.

We sized each other up, and in that moment I knew I was in for it. Sometime down the line, I would surely lose the argument — any argument — to this little guy. But not today. 

“I’m not giving you any money for playing that toy, sweetie,” I said, smiling.

“OK,” he said, turning toward the staircase. “Maybe Evan has something for me to earn.”

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