No, I'm really not made of money

"I'm not made of money," said just about every parent I know. Count me among them.

I said it one day last week as I was dropping off my daughter for after-school care. I happened to look down and notice deep scuffs on the toes of her boots, which I had bought only two weeks earlier. Yes, just two weeks. Not even a month before.

child boots scuffed scratched scuff marks
My daughter's brand-new boots,
less than a month after I bought them.

"What is this?" I said.

My daughter shrugged and looked at me as if the boots had come out of the box looking like that. "It's OK, Mom. You can get me some new ones."

"No, I can't," I huffed. "I'm not made of money."

She went into her classroom, and I walked back to the car, irritated that her brand-new shoes no longer have a "brand new" look and likely won't last the winter.

This isn't the first time she's damaged her stuff out of carelessness. She lost a jacket at school because she didn't hang it up, and the teacher, thinking it belonged to another student, zipped it into the wrong backpack. On another occasion at school, she was tossing one of her hard plastic headbands into the air when, inevitably, it fell to the hard tile floor and broke. From toys and clothes to crayons and Playdoh, it's all fallen victim to our daughter in her five years. This was, however, the first time she's acted as if I could -- and should -- just replace it.

As I drove back to work, I wondered what I could do to inspire her to take better care of her stuff. I don't know how she did that to her shoes, but surely it didn't happen just through normal wear. And her belief that I can buy her new shoes at any time frustrates me, too. Her dad and I cannot afford to run out and replace everything she inadvertently damages, but even if we could, I don't think she learns to appreciates what she has if we do.

Ideally, I would follow her around all day and say things like, "Hang up your jacket," "Put that headband back on your head, and leave it there," or "Walk right so you don't damage your shoes." But that's not the reality. I have to work, and she has kindergarten. The best I can do is just tell her what I expect when I'm not around and hope it sinks in.

Hopefully, the shoes last until winter is over.

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