Thursday, June 14, 2007

Richie Rich Doesn't Live Here Anymore

A while ago I changed jobs, leaving one that would have paid me more for one that I like a lot better. Before I made the decision we talked it over as a family, especially the fact it meant trading money for time. Somewhat surprisingly, the kids were in favor of that, an attitude they held until the first time they were denied something. They get their revenge by pointing out convertibles and nice houses and all the other things they tell me I could have if I wasn't so lazy. I tell them I could still have nice things if I wasn't stuck raising a bunch of ungrateful little thugs.

Whatever. I don't expect my kids to tolerate me, much less appreciate me. I'm happy and that's what counts. The original discussion has led to some misunderstandings, however, as my children don't always appreciate simple accounting, namely that there's an expense side to the family budget.

I found this out when a neighbor mentioned she'd heard the Snags would be rich if I hadn't left my old position. I asked her what she meant and she told me that my youngest had taken my previous gross salary, adjusted it for inflation, multiplied it by a random number of years, and arrived at a number he deemed net assets, a number he'd shared with pretty much everyone he'd talked to over the course of a few weeks.

"I don't need material wealth when I have such precious children," I said. She punched her husband in the shoulder when he started laughing.

This idea of Snag's Paradise Lost has apparently spread even more widely than I realized. The other day I was talking to one of my middle son's friends, asking him what he wanted to do when he grew up. "I want to be rich," he said. "Like you would have been if you hadn't quit your job."

"That's not all it's cracked up to be," I told him. "There are more important things in life."

"No there aren't," he said.

I know the boy's parents. They're nice and decent people and didn't plant this idea in his head. Perhaps that's why I felt compelled to defend myself.

"Sure there are," I insisted. "I could make more money than I do now, but I decided I'd rather do something I enjoy. Besides, now I have more time to spend with my family."

I could tell by his face he didn't believe me. He's seen me with my kids. He has good reason to be skeptical.

"Really," I went on. "Think about it. Think about something that makes you unhappy, and then think about doing it every day for the rest of your life. It's not worth it."

"Yes it is," he said. "I'd rather have money."

"Alright," I said, determined to make this a teachable moment, My own kid shifted uncomfortably, probably concerned I'd start crying in front of his friend. He knows how I get on this subject. "What's the one thing in the world that makes you sad, that makes you wish your life was different?"

"Not being rich," he replied. I stared at him for a minute, unsure how to respond. I looked at my son, who acknowledged his friend's unanswerable logic with a shrug. The two of them walked away, no longer interested in my crazy talk, leaving me with only the comfort of knowing they because I'm not rich, my children will someday have to choose their own jobs.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

""Alright," I said, determined to make this a teachable moment..."

Is this the point when you teach him how much it hurts to be wapped over the head with some aged roadkill?

Egads, I started to type, *Snagkill*.

After thinking about it, it could be a wonderful bbq-type sauce for roadkill. Who needs KC Masterpiece and some ribs when you've got Snagkill and a flattened raccoon out front?!?

Chuckles said...

There are some sacrifices I can make for happiness and for wealth. The scales are weighted toward happiness.

billy pilgrim said...

Ask BlueGrill if all her wealth and mansionry has made her happy.

Instead, she seems to be made happy byu listening to Genesis and eating ice cream cones in non-approved ways.

Activities which, it may be supposed, can be enjoyed without necessarily being rich.

Snag, you must remind the neighborhood that if you were rich, you would live somewhere nicer, i.e. away from them. Maybe they'll start a fund.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

BP rocks the house tonight!

The kids are right, who cares about morals and all that other crap -- be rich!!!!

Snag said...

BP may have a point. The petitions haven't worked so perhaps I can be bought out instead. Hmmm...

Righteous Bubba said...

What you need handy is a hill with a big unmanageable rock to roll up it.

Snag said...

What you need handy is a hill with a big unmanageable rock to roll up it.

I do. I call it my life.