Thursday, January 16, 2014

Teaching Economics

A few weeks ago while on a long (30 minute) car ride with the Youn'un, I struck up a conversation on the topic of the cost of things, and how they are paid for. We were rolling through a Mickey D's at the time, and she was asking about money. I figured it would be a pleasant way to spend the time. And I'll tell that story in a minute. But first I have to rant.

This place screwed up our order like you wouldn't believe. I drink unsweetened ice tea, and can't strand the sweet version. I ordered a Sausage Egg and Cheese McMuffin and a Sausage Egg and Cheese McGriddle and 3 hash browns, plus my tea. I'm still at the window when I sip my tea- I have been screwed with the Sweet Tea too often- and sure enough; Sweet Tea. I knock on the window and hand it back. I verified I have the right tea when they hand me the second cup full (it was) and we leave the place. I am a block up the road when the Youn'un realizes they have not given us any hash browns. Another block to find somewhere to turn around, and three blocks back to the Mickey D's.

The drive through is a hot mess, backed up almost to the street, so we park and go inside. Which is also backed up 3 deep at all of the cash registers. IS all this time really worth 3 hash browns? Yes; yes it is. We finally get to the counter and get our hash browns, get back into the car and leave for a second time. 3 blocks up the street I reach for my McGriddle. No McGriddle. I only have one sandwich, not two.

And the one I have is an Egg-White and Ham McMuffin. No cheese.

Have I mentioned yet that I am about an hour late for an appointment to do a couple of small jobs for my brother?

This is where I start discussing the various ways of assigning cost and value to things. With a 9 year-old.

And I think she caught on. It helps to have concrete examples.

We talked about what a  McGriddle cost in money, and what the cost would be for returning to the store to get the right order; again.

We talked about how things will have the same cost, but different values. Like a McGriddle that costs $3.00; if I earn $30.00 an hour, a McGriddle costs me 6 minutes; if I make $3.00 an hour that same sandwich costs me an hour.

We discussed what it would cost to make another return trip to the store, and how the store cost me more than the money spent for what I received.

We talked for the entire ride to my brother's place, and not once did I have to utter any words that had anything to do with her TV shows or her music. She was also holding up her end of the conversation, asking pertinent questions and asking for details and more examples.

How much of it did she retain?

I'm not really sure, but when we stopped as a family at a Mickey D's a week or so later we checked the bags to make sure we had everything. Right afterward she asked if they had cost me anything this time.

Maybe some of it sunk in.

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