This past weekend, our family went to the local zoo for the afternoon. We are members of the zoo so our admission is already paid for, but things like rides and snacks cost extra. We go to the zoo quite often each summer, and usually, we don’t get any extras. But this trip I told my son we could have some kind of treat while we were there. He wanted french fries, his very favorite thing in the universe that he doesn’t get very often, and I agreed that french fries would be okay once we got to that part of the zoo (the furthest point from the entrance).
While walking through the African exhibit, my son was immediately drawn to the ice cream cart down the path. He got very excited and started saying “Ice cream, look mommy ice cream” and rushed over. I sat down with him next to the ice cream sign and explained he could choose to get ice cream, but if he did, there would be no french fries later. I showed him the two dollar bills and told him with these he could get ice cream, but once he did, they would be gone and we couldn’t use them to get french fries. He thought about it, I could almost see the wheels turning in his brain as he looked at the money and looked at the ice cream sign. He is not really good with the concept of “later” and I was pretty sure he would be getting some ice cream and we’d have to deal with the tantrum later when we got to the Australian exhibit where DQ was with the french fries and we didn’t get any.
But then, he turned around and said “Okay mommy bye bye come on!” and walked away. And that was that. Later that afternoon we stopped for french fries and after my son again debated ice cream vs french fries (it is DQ after all) we paid our $2 for french fries and sat down to enjoy them. And that was that. I don’t know how much of this he’ll retain and apply to the next time a choice with money needs to be made, but I was a pretty proud parent that day.