Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why work?

Lest you all be too depressed by my last post, here is a little Dominic anecdote for your amusement.

Since the weather has been so beautiful, the kids and I have frequently been walking Matt to the archives in the morning.  And Dominic has been struggling to understand why Daddy needs to leave everyday and can't stay and play with him.  Also, the archives of the last couple of weeks either close down at 1pm or have a long "break" (quite irritating for him) between, say, 12 and 3ish.  So this creates even more situations where we are all together and Daddy has to leave, see below:
Dominic: Where is Daddy going? (asking for the fifth time, at least)
Mommy: To work.
Dominic: Why?
Mommy: To make money.

 (This explanation began especially when Dominic put a few Euro coins in the radiator ($3 worth).  As annoying as it was, we tried to use the moment to explain the value of money.  One way of doing this was to say that Daddy might have to work a little more to make up for the money that Dominic had wasted!  OK...so this actually opened up a whole world for him.  Now, Dominic asks all the time if Daddy is leaving to go make us more money. When we go the ATMs, he thinks we are "getting" or "buying" money.  It must be confusing for him that Matt is gone for so many hours, if it's really that easy to "get" money.  He also likes to go around the house taking up offerings in his Elmo frying pan.  OK...you probably are getting the gist--cash is clearly on his radar screen now!)

So, Mommy has just callously explained for the umpteenth time that Daddy went to work to go get money.  Daddy chimes in to qualify that he is doing much more than making money.  If that's all he were doing, well, things would look rather different.  He seriously engages with Dominic in a collegial way, as he tends to do with our three-year old son: "Well, Dominic, I am also in the pursuit of the truth about the past.  I am trying to correct misconceptions about the history of Christianity." And so on. When Daddy receives a blank stare, he does try a different tactic.  "Well, you know how you learn your letters, well, Daddy goes to work to learn other sorts of things.  It's just that I also get money for this for our family."

When money re-enters the picture, Dominic's attention has again been piqued and his eyes sparkle again. 

Dominic: Why do we need money?  
Matt: This is how we buy food, and how we have an apartment.  Do you know the books that you have?  We get them with money.  I'm going to work so you can have more toys...  

Now Daddy really has grabbed the attention of his son.  He was asking about how this happens and about what kind of toys I was going to get for him.  He didn't entirely get the point.  So, we finally drop Matt off at the archive.  As we walk away, Dominic says, "So Daddy's going to get us money for my toys."  I tried to explain, but it obviously didn't work.  When Matt returned home hours later and gave his little son a hug, the first thing he asked was,

"So...Daddy...where's my toys?" 

(OK, for comic timing, I should probably stop here, but there is another wrinkle.  When Dominic said this, Matt started laughing hysterically.  For some reason, when that happens, Dominic (with a little smirk on his face) still seriously points at his father and says, "No, Daddy. DON'T LAUGH."  We don't know why this upsets him since he's such a comedian.  But he has been told that it is wrong to stick his fingers in his parents' faces and to shout at them.  He has been taught that there are nice, acceptable alternatives.  Well, in this instance, he remembered.  His face entirely changes.  His voice gets softer and calmer.  And, with the sweetest possible intonation, he says, "No thank you, Daddy.  Please don't laugh.") 


  1. This is delightful. I'm not sure which cracks me up more - Dominic's pleasant chastisement of his papa, or Matt's explanation of his studies to a knee-high person.

    Love your blog, Amy! And I'm looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks at Laurel's wedding!