Last week my husband went to a parent meeting for our 8th grader. The meeting was for parents who are interested in sending their kid to Washington D.C. I wonder when the 8th Grade Washington D.C. trip first started. I can remember back when I was in eighth grade…let’s see, that would have been the spring of 1989. I don’t need to even say that it was a trip I missed out on. I also didn’t go to the 5th grade Annual Sacramento trip and that would have easily been ½ the cost of D.C. Heck! I didn’t even go Whale Watching! Don’t feel too bad though (not that you would feel inclined to). My church choir group went to Washington D.C. and thanks to some generous supporting families, I did make that trip. It was in 1995. I was already out of high school. I’m sure I appreciated that trip much more anyway. I sincerely believe that whole experience was a gift from heaven. Up until that point, it was the trip of a lifetime for me. My hubby and I were dating then so it’s cool that we got to experience it together. We went for more than just sightseeing and education, the point was to perform in local churches and to help them out with summer children’s events – evangelism. Very purposeful and the sightseeing was bonus. My favorite was the tribute to Iwo Jima; a very powerful memorial indeed.
A part of me kinda wanted to skip the school trip and take her myself, along with my son,… as a family. I knew it would be pricey and that money would be better spent on a family trip. However, she really wants to go this way. I get the sense that my husband really wants to send her – to gift it to her. Now, here is where financial philosophies collide.
As a rule, whenever our children have some trip that costs a ‘significant’ amount of money; we make them contribute a portion of it financially. For example, church summer camps. They cost approximately $250 each. They know that if they want to go, they have to cover their own deposit (usually $50 buck). Those guys almost always have money of some kind. I fully believe that they appreciate the trips better because they ‘sacrificially’ contributed to the final cost. Besides, it’s a mere 20% of the total cost. I guess in my own mind, I fully expected her to pay the deposit for D.C. (and I knew it would be a lot more than $50 dollars). Well folks, it’s $400.00.
My husband is a man (obvious, I know). I have a theory that men feel good when they can give extravagant gifts to their women. It boosts the main part of their ego: “Provider.” (I think the second most important part of their ego is “jar-opener”). I can’t lie. I am enjoying the fact that sending her to D.C. would not be the most difficult thing we tried to do. Herein lies the guilt of not being poor; It feels good; just probably not to the extent that it does for him.
The battle begins. So how much money, if any, do we require her to pony up?
- I say “the full $400” – if she really wants it, she’ll pay it. Besides, it’s less than 20%.
- He says “nothing.” It’s educational and we can afford to send her.
- He says she can’t afford $400
- I say, we can front it and she can earn it.
- I’m too hard.
- He’s too soft.
Josh reminded me that when I went on that choir tour to Washington DC, I didn’t pay for any of it. Church families sponsored the poor, little, rich, white, Mexican. Well, that is almost true. I did fundraise as much as I could, but that alone would not have gotten me there…and I was technically an adult at that point. She is only a middle schooler – but a middle schooler with money. What say you, friends? Any advice is gladly accepted.