Christina M. Currie
Christina M. Currie's Touch of Spice column appears Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Drive to Hayden, jump on a plane and spend three blissful days in Wendover, Nev.
It was the perfect way to escape - for a short while - the mud season doldrums.
Plus, there were very few faces on the plane that I didn't recognize. Who wasn't taking advantage of this opportunity?
Just a day or two of R and R with a few loose coins in my pocket that were waiting to be turned into a few more loose coins, or more likely, a pocket full of nothing.
Oh well, the hotel had a spa. It's never smart to expect to come home flush from a gambling town, no matter how lucky you're feeling, so I always put more emphasis on the massage services than the number of slot machines.
Anyway, it was day No. 2, and I was returning my rather meager winnings to the house via the blackjack table when inspiration hit.
What better way to teach my girls basic math than by showing them the rewards of instantly calculating the best combination to get you to 21?
Sometimes, I impress even myself.
There was a problem with the plan. Being 7 and 8 years old, my girls aren't exactly rolling in the dough (although, I still haven't ascertained exactly how much 7-year-old Nikki has pigeonholed. Her spending doesn't really tally with the number of gaps in her mouth. I KNOW the tooth fairy pays pretty well).
Anyway, I didn't really expect them to risk their own savings for this stellar educational opportunity, so I decided to float them $3 in quarters and set myself up as the dealer (from what I learned, that's really the most lucrative position on the table).
We reviewed the basics and learned "table etiquette" and were off and running.
Minimum bet, 25 cents.
Nikki doubled her first bet, and she, too, was struck by inspiration.
She had three quarters riding on her next hand.
I was a little taken aback by how fast she picked up the fundamentals and how willing she was to take a risk (of course, the first time she lost 75 cents, she backed down to 25, but the first time she won on that, the high-roller was back).
Katie gave up early. There was a lot more math to the game than she liked. (Foiled again!) Nikki walked away with a couple of bucks. Not a bad lesson.
Katie isn't drawn to money the way Nikki is. Nikki picked up the concept of exchanging money for goods (mostly the edible type) pretty quickly.
Her eyes were opened when she learned that there are more ways for a kid to earn money than pulling teeth or celebrating a birthday.
First, she decided that a yard sale was the way to go and started putting price tags on her toys. I kind of bummed her out when I made her change the $12 she was asking for a plastic-framed mirror to 10 cents.
The market for used toys just wasn't what she expected, so she unleashed her entrepreneurial spirit and asked if she could open a lemonade stand. Not very lucrative in my experience, but definitely an opportunity for learning, so I said "yes."
A few days later, we were discussing her love for money when I asked her about her future plans in the refreshment business.
"That's not a good idea," she said. "I have a different way to make money."
"Really?" I asked. "How?"
On Easter, the girls joined friends and family in the back yard in a race to see who could find the most eggs. Both my girls fared pretty well. When Nikki cracked open the selection of plastic eggs she'd gathered, she found her two favorite things: chocolate and money. Her net gain on that trip was $3.50.
"That's awesome; now you can play Blackjack with me," I said.
She shoved the money deep into her pockets, "Nuh uh. I don't want to lose my money."
I get it now. It was a sound financial plan when she was playing with MY money, but to risk her own? Not gonna happen.
It will take a while to divine exactly what Nikki's learned. Maybe that it's better to save your money than risk it? Maybe that you should have a good plan in place if you are going to risk your money. Maybe she just learned that an ace and a jack pay double.
Did I learn anything? Probably not. But I am more inclined to pull out flash cards than playing cards.
Then again, maybe I'm feeling lucky.