The kids have been looking forward to a book fair at their school for about two weeks. Yesterday they got to go down and peruse the offerings. Today and tomorrow, they get to buy what they have money for.
You may not know this about Joshua, but he is already training up a powerful shopping addiction. The child likes new trinket. It can be the cheapest, crappiest Happy Meal, Dollar Tree, plastic, made-in-China piece of soon-to-be garbage, but for the ten minutes that it takes for the new to wear off, he's on a high most people would need a Big Gulp full of bath tub crank to achieve. So as you can imagine, he was quite eager to make sure he'd be able to purchase something at the book fair.
"Mr. C said we need to bring five or ten dollars to buy something with," he told me repeatedly on the ride home from school yetserday. Ten dollars, really? That seemed a little steep for a first grader. I settled toward the lower end of that range and mentally planned to give each kid $5 for the fair. Or more accurately, to tell Big Daddy to give each kid $5, because I never have any cash. Never one to wait once he's got something on his mind, though, he started right in on the calculations and the money round up as soon as we got home. He somehow had three dollars, including two that he "found" somehwere. I'm still not sure where that came from, but my don't ask, don't tell policy kicked in once his mumbled explanation left me more confused than I started out. Apparently there was a "How to Draw Pokemon" book that he wanted for $4.99, but also some other book that cost $3.50. Gradually he came up with a zip-lock bag containing the three dollars of questionable origin plus a lot of quarters given to him by Calvin, which he may or may not have gotten from the jar of change BD empties his pockets into daily, all of which added up, allegedly, to about $6.50. "That's great!" I told him. "That's plenty of money to get the Pokemon book you wanted." This made him really happy. For a minute.
"But Mr. C said we need five or ten dollars to take. "
"Right," I replied, a little confused, "you have $6.50 to take."
"But that's for the book I want. He said we needed money to get something at the book fair."
"Yes baby. You have six dollars and fifty cents to take to the book fair to buy the book that you want."
We went on like that for a few rounds before he sighed deeply and said in his frustrated voice "I know! I just got a little confused up here," he said, pointing at his temple. He still did not have it straight, I could tell, but he wanted to drop it, so I did.
When I told this story to BD later, he said "But we're still not worried?" This was in reference to a sort-of on-going discussion we have about this particular offspring's level of normalcy. Joshua is really a lot like I was as a child. He's kind of off in his own little world, gliding through the blur of days somewhat obliviously. His occasional cluelessness doesn't bother me because I know what it's like to be that child, and because in most ways he's totally normal. Or as normal as he can be as the oddball in an odd family of kids.