Cousins from North Carolina recently came to Colorado to meet their local cousins and also the ones from Idaho. I was reminded that the best icebreaker for children of varying ages was shopping at the mall.


Youngsters are driven to  the mall at an early age by splashy truck and doll commercials, which escalate  into  trendy outfits and then, tadaaaaaa, the expensive device commercials like iPhones, the nook and kindle. But devices were off the table this day. Apparently they were all waiting until the “appropriate age” for them, as well as the funding. But they had wrangled deals with their parents and had a small stash of dollars tucked inside their jeans.

And — get ready for this — wait for it, wait for it — they’re off!

But what are they shopping for?

Even the youngest of the shoppers, age 4, had been programmed by flashy commercials of the finest and latest brand new toys, trinkets and devices.  They were ready for exchange.

As I watched them, I saw some of the finest conversation and decision making.

For instance, one of the younger ones  found  out that the object costs not $20, but $21.99.  I was comforted by the way the older children — 11 and 13 — offered assistance to the younger ones who were learning about that charming three letter word – tax!

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As they traveled the brightly lit corridors filled with windows designed to lure them inside, I marveled at our amazing children. As I offered to pay the tax,  my oldest son reminded me that I needed to let them figure it out. That was their introduction to budgeting. Oh, yeah, I remember teaching him something like that a long time ago.


  1. Maggie Mainzer July 16, 2013 / 8:50 am

    Although my comment is not pertaining the current subject, I felt like making a comment about another subject and possibly wondering if this happens to other people. I am 84 and quite healthy, however, I am very much aware of my age. Sometimes, or I should say lately, I feel like an emptyness of my past. So, I close my eyes and try to go back in time. and then realize that it is not empty at all. This makes me feel better and complete.

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