Monday, November 8, 2010

Well, how much money will you make?

I'm blaming it on the recession. Or the headlines. Or maybe the fact a couple of my friends are worried about losing their jobs. You hear too much news like that, and it starts to make you think. Overthink. And worry about choices.

So maybe that's why I said what I did.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This story really starts with my 12-year-old daughter, the artist. I mean, seriously, she is gifted. She doesn't get it from me. I just draw little stick people doing funny things - "Mom toons," as my husband calls them. But ever since that girl has been little, she's had a sketch pad in her hands, drawing everything and anything, and doing it really, really well.

My daughter loves manga. You've heard of it, right? Those Japanese serialized comics? Well, I don't know when my daughter discovered them, but ever since she has, she's been drawing these incredibly detailed characters. She's also become fascinated with all aspects of Japanese culture. It's really pretty cool - she listens to Japanese rock, has convinced her stalwart Midwestern mom to try sushi, and now she's studying the language through the local library.

Which leads us to today - when we were reviewing her grades online. Straight As, as usual. "I want to start looking at art schools," she told me. "Really?" I said, only half listening. "What do you want to study?"

I didn't even expect her to have an answer - I was on Facebook, checking Twitter, doing this and that, not really paying attention. I mean, she's 12

But she answered promptly. "I want to draw manga," she told me. "And then maybe get into anime."

And I, the creative, free spirit of the family, had this to say: "How much money will you make?" Let me just repeat that so the awfulness will sink in: HOW MUCH MONEY WILL YOU MAKE?

I'm glad I didn't have a mirror in front of me. I'm sure I would have seen the face of that money-grubbing little Monopoly man. Or maybe Ebenezer Scrooge. Or more embarrassing, my college self, shaking her head at me reprovingly.

My daughter, God bless her, thought I was kidding. She laughed. "Well, I'm really good," she said. "So I'll make lots." And she danced upstairs.

I know that comment might not seem like a big deal. There's nothing wrong with making money, right? Everyone wants the best for their kid, right? And believe me, I like money as much as the next mom.

But I'm not sure reviewing the pay scale is the best way to support your child's dreams. Especially when she's 12.

I've always been fanatical about creativity with my kids. We have dance parties, we paint, write and read aloud - we put on little skits before bedtime. We've been known to pour flour all over the kitchen table, just to have something new to play in.

So, WTH, I asked myself? But I don't have the answer.

I don't know where this sudden visit from the accountant came from. But if he comes back, he'll need to watch his mouth.

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