The day I first realised I was expensive

NZMUSE THE DAY I FIRST REALISED I WAS EXPENSIVE

They say kids cost about $250,000 each to raise. I have no idea how accurate that figure has been for my parents, but I can tell you that now I’m grown, I no longer resent my parents for not taking us travelling (airfares are bloody expensive and they did a lot of their travel pre-kids), buying secondhand clothes and only ever shopping supermarket specials.

Through braces, swimming and tennis lessons, music classes, library fines and more, they spent thousands on non-essentials for me. I have to say, though, they got lucky: I was never a kid who nagged for stuff. I simply don’t like asking for things, and for some reason I was always a little bit scared of my parents somehow. I can only think of one instance in which I sort of pushed to buy a pair of orange boardshorts (they were like $10 at The Warehouse) when I was younger, and I got my way. Thing is, they were on the small side to start with, I was a growing kid, and they only lasted a summer. Fail.

But the day I truly, honest-to-God realised I was expensive for my parents was the day I told them not to send me to One Day School. It was a programme for ‘gifted’ kids who weren’t necessarily being challenged at normal school. We went to see the place – I vaguely remember it looking somewhat uninspiring, to be honest – and then came the big question: did I actually want to go?

I can’t remember if I asked, or if they randomly disclosed to me how much it cost, but either way, the financial aspect came up. The details are a bit hazy to me today, but I’m pretty sure I worked out that one day there would be the equivalent of one or two hours’ pay for my dad. (Ah, ye olde hours-worked formula! Keeping us in check since the beginning of capitalism!) Of course, today that seems quite reasonable to the adult me, but to the 8-year-old me that seemed an outrageous expenditure. What a heinous waste of money, I reasoned – there was no good justification for it. I hadn’t been all that taken by my first impressions of ODS anyway, so I said we should forget the whole thing. And we did.

Don’t for a moment think I missed out on anything. I was perfectly happy in mainstream school, reading years ahead of my age level in my spare time and agonising over my social awkwardness. Really, English was the only thing I was advanced in – I was most definitely average in all other subjects. (And being less than totally exceptional is something I’m more than okay with. Genius is a burden, and often the greats among us are deeply tortured souls. RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.)

For a kid who really just wanted to fit in – who still had a slight accent, wore weird clothes and wasn’t sporty – going to a special school one day a week would probably have been the worst way to prove I was just like everyone else. I’m sure a much more deserving and needy kid would have filled my spot.

(This post was inspired by Young Adult Money!)

Did you ever have a similar epiphany as a kid?

8 thoughts on “The day I first realised I was expensive

  1. We never talked about money or expenses which contributed to the problem of us not understanding how it all worked, so we were resentful growing up for some things…

    Generally we just accepted it.

  2. I grew up knowing my parents struggled with money so there were a lot of things I didn’t get to do. Like trying out for some extracurriculars or sports. I felt bad enough for joining cheerleading in 10th grade and my mom having to pay for my uniforms for that! I think I was also scared, too, to ask for things. I think I didn’t want my mom to feel bad that she couldn’t buy me things. I don’t know. But things were always a struggle for us, and as such, I didn’t get everything I wanted (still wish I had a Barbie Jeep!), and didn’t really develop great money habits as an adult. Trying to rectify that now!

  3. There’s a PF blogger who keeps track of how much his new baby is costing him, right down to every cent. The first year was about $20,000. It’s a really interesting project, but I can’t remember now which blogger it is.

  4. I didn’t realize this until I went away to university. My parents spoiled me a LOT. Dance classes at an expensive dance school, piano lessons, swimming lessons, accelerated math lessons and a lot of vacations (mostly to the U.S – Disneyworld, Atlantic City, Washington D.C). And yet, because I saw other people around me with even more, I thought that it wasn’t enough.

    Being a starving student made me realize how much my parents provided for me and wanted me to success in life. They came to Canada separately on their own and started out with very little and somehow managed to raise their two kids in a middle class upbringing.

    Over a year ago, I had a second revelation after I purchased my first home with my partner. I felt like such an a$$ for asking my parents why didn’t they update their house more like everybody else when I was younger.

  5. When I was really little, we didn’t talk about money. Then the 1990s recession hit, and that was ALL we ever talked about. My parents still tried to enroll us in stuff but even I knew to pinch back where I could and told them I didn’t need to go to X classes. I’m very thankful for my parents and I know I was/am loved.

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