I just found my elder son, teary-eyed in the basement.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned.

He looked up at me, bottom lip trembling, and said, “We’re poor.”

Oh, for the love of pete. Hubby and I had just had a talk with the kids expanding the current notion of FHB–Family Hold Back. FHB comes from my husband’s side of the family and is for those occasions when, say, you’ve already made dinner which is perhaps, 12 drumsticks, but end up having company. Assuming that now there are 9-10 people in the house, FHB means nobody even ASKS for seconds until the guests are offered more. The Family must Hold Back.

So my son, who is a young Spielberg in the making, brought up to us the fact that the camcorder is dead. Irrevocably dead. However, money isn’t exactly flowing like water around our house so it’s going to be a while until we can afford to replace it. Also, it’s just a general good idea that we tighten the hatches, kind of look around at what expenses we can do without. Which is why we asked the kids to apply a little financial FHB to their requests for the next few weeks. Apparently in the mind of my son, this is unacceptable. Not even unacceptable, but a portent of doom. I’m sure it didn’t help that our youngest kept cheerfully chirping, “We’re HOBOS!” until his older brother fled to the basement, which is where I found him.

Remember now, this is the child with the “give me a dollar” life philosophy. To him this is a catastrophe. I stared at him for a minute and in my most soothing and loving tone said, “Give me a break!” This isn’t POOR poor. This is “we can’t afford a new camcorder so why don’t you finishing practicing on your $300 drum set, Alex P. Keaten, then you can go watch your 40” HDTV…. I know it’s broadcast not cable, but I think you might live” poor.

In a way, I am grateful to him. I tend to get a little panicked these days around money, but in attempting to show him how very fortunate me are, it reminds me as well. The average American house is a wonderland of amazing toys and electronics. Remember, I’m still of the generation whose phone was adhered to the wall and was a shared “party line” which meant I could only talk to my BFF for 5 minutes, so as to not prohibit the neighbors from using the phone in case of emergencies. DVDs???!! Give me a break. I was in Sr. High before there were VHS players. My dad’s pickup had an eight track player!!! So to suggest that somehow we are lacking in material comforts is ridiculous to me.

Also, he should know that FHB applies to mom and dad as well, which means mom is prohibited from frequenting her favorite retail therapy location. (though heaven knows the negative repercussions THAT is going to have on the U. S. economy.) I can’t even take hubby along as a chaperone. I know that this is an odd thing to complain about, but my husband’s desire to make me happy is proving less than prudent. He called me a the other night because he needed a new coffee mug and did I want to go with him to SuperTarget? Dude. I want to set up one of their tents in the outdoor rec section and LIVE there. …hells YES, I want to go!

He should know that I can’t trusted there and, frankly, neither can he. When I hold up a darling, but admittedly unnecessary polka-dot cardigan and ask him if it’s really so very important that the children go to college, “You’d look cute in that.” really should not be his answer. No camcorder for the boy, means no cardigan for mom…except that I totally already bought it and cut the tags off and everything. So, no more cardigans for mom, is what I’m saying.

We’ll be fine, I have no doubt. Show me a family that doesn’t have periodic financial troubles and I’ll show you who I want for my new best friends! Until we find them, at least my son will be making his own memories of childhood hardships to lord over his children, someday:
“When I was a kid, sometimes we couldn’t even MAKE our own movies! It’s true! We had to listen to music on ipods and not just access it from the chip in our brains…and we lived on Earth and not in this snazzy space ship.”

Hey! It could happen. But what do I know? I was born before microwave ovens, for goodness sakes.

The Rise & Fall of a Momocracy

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