Recently I’ve been reading Beverly Cleary books aloud to my boys. They are really enjoying them. We’ve been going back and forth between Henry Huggins books and Ramona books. So far we’ve read Henry Huggins, Henry and Ribsy, Ramona the Pest, Beezus and Ramona, Henry and Beezus and now we are reading Henry and the Paper Route. Henry is a great kid who always manages to get into and out of scrapes, the kind of scrapes that only a kid in the 1950s probably could manage to get into and out of. And he uses words like “golly” and “jeepers” and “Aww shucks!” I wish the world were as it was then in many ways… where boys could go and play in the old abandoned lot down the street or where we could use words like “jeepers” on a regular basis… and then again, I am not the petticoat, t-length dress or cardigan wearing type that I would have to be in order to fill the shoes of a June Cleaver. Still…
But the thing I think I like best about Henry is that he is fastidious with his money. He keeps scrupulous accounts of how much he has in his piggy bank at any given time, knows exactly what he is saving up for, knows how much it costs, knows how much he has to earn in order to have that much. He is always busily calculating losses depending on how bad a scrape he is in, like the time his faithful but troublesome dog, Ribsy, ate the neighbor’s large roast. Either that or he is excitedly tabulating his gains like the time he stumbled upon a large abandoned stash of bubble gum which he then began selling at school in order to earn money towards something he’d been just dying to own.
Well, if you ever think such things escape the notice of your little readers or listeners, think again.
My oldest son recently found a toy of which he was quite fond at our local colossal mammoth gargantuan antithesis to the old Mom and Pop operations of the 1950s bookstore. It’s a catapult to go with his growing collection of medieval knights. It cost a substantial $25 though. He was hinting to me that he would really like this catapult if at all I were willing to fork over the cash to the Poor Starving Christmas Child Foundation he is starting in his own honor (just kidding… he really is not that materialistic at all.) But Christmas gifts are already bought and his birthday is quite a ways off yet. I informed him that he would have to buy this item for himself if he really wanted it and felt it was worth his money. He was discouraged by the seemingly insurmountable price tag though.
Later that day he asked me if there was a way that he could earn some extra money. My answer was, “Hmm… well, I do have one job in particular that I would eagerly relinquish. And I would gladly pay you for your troubles.”
“What Mom?! What?”
“Poop scooping! I’ll pay you 10¢ per doggy deposit.”
Not two seconds went by before he had his shoes and jacket on and was out the door busily poop-scooping away. Several minutes later he came in with a grocery bag of… er… loot! He then began counting doggy loggies. I reminded him that it was 10¢ per doggy deposit not 10c per doggy loggy. So he went out and tabulated each spot he had picked up from, came in and proudly announced that I owed him 60¢.
What a beautiful arrangement. My son has taken on a new job and has accepted the idea of doing menial work for pay. And I no longer have to scoop poop! I paid him his money and told him that I was proud of him for wanting to work hard in order to earn money. I told him that his work ethic is a valuable asset and that someday employers will happily pay to keep such a conscientious worker.
He ran upstairs and put his money in his piggy bank and asked me if I would count it to see how much he has to earn to buy his catapult. He had $16 in there. We figured with tax he will probably have to pay about $27 so I told him he only had $11 left to earn.
As I made dinner that evening he quickly ran upstairs and whipped out a work schedule for himself, figuring on how much a dog poops per day and how quickly he thought he could earn the rest of the money. Here is what he came up with. It was just too cute to not share!
Henry Huggins. What an inspirational boy! Thank you Beverly Cleary!