The Gingerbread Men
My sons are saving up their pence for the gingerbread men baked by the local bakery. They love those gingerbread men. Sometimes, there are gingerbread dogs, too. Those are even better. It doesn’t matter to me; I’m focused on the saving part. The boys are learning what it means to save their pennies, or rather, their pence, for something they really want. It’s a lesson I’ve been looking forward to teaching them for some reason. Maybe it’s because my mom was an investment counselor for so many years, or maybe its because I watched my parents save their hard-earned pennies and buy a lovely home that they well deserved. Or maybe I’m just a penny pincher, which I am. Regardless, the opportunity for the lesson came up on our second day in Lowestoft, the land of fallen pence.
It seems that every time we walk the half-mile to our local co-op grocery store, we find two- or ten-pence coins on the ground. The boys have turned it into a game, seeing who can find the coin(s) on each walk. Regardless of the demonination, it all goes in the same spot: the gingerbread bank. That first 2-pence piece the boys found was discovered on our way to the bakery for teacakes and scones. (Sounds so British, doesn’t it? We brilliant Americans called them “rolls” and “buns” the first day. Sacrilege!) I told my son to save the coin for his roll, which he did. But when he paid and I made up the difference, somehow he ended up with the 2-pence piece back in his hand and the lady behind the counter smiling broadly. That same 2-pence piece also bought that boy a gingerbread man in a Town Center bakery, too. And just about every other bakery we pass, as this has become a standard (read: “daily”) treat for them. And he still has that coin! Something about his earnestness in paying gets those girls to hand him the coin back. I suppose I could be paying his 2-pence and not knowing it…I just stick out my hand and let the girls pick the money out of the pile of coins in my palm. I haven’t figured them all out yet, and there’s always such a long line of people behind me that I don’t want to stand there, holding each coin up high and squinting at it to read the tiny numbers on the side. Bakeries are very popular here.
I hope that the boys are learning about saving for things they want. Already they’ve suggested that they can save for particular toy cars they’ve seen in shops here, so maybe the lesson is sinking in. I just wonder how will this lesson pay off when we get back to San Diego? Could it be that I’ll find myself in the Vons bakery next August listening to a small boy staring at the price below the gingerbread cookie bin say, “Mommy, how many pence is fifty cents?”
With a British accent.