The question came at bedtime.
"Momma, why does everything in the whole world cost money? Is there anything that you don't have to pay for?"
Straight from the mouth of my 3rd grader... 3rd grader? Already? I. Can't.
It's a legitimate question. Worth asking, worth answering. He's my little old soul, my wise one, my thinker. The one who asks questions. I worry about him sometimes, because I'm a thinker too, and I know from experience that overthinking can cause so much undue pain.
Honestly, it was a hard question to answer. I was laying there with him, trying to come up with a list of things that don't cost money. It was quiet. I was tickling his arm to help him fall asleep, like I've done since he was a baby (even though he's in the 3rd grade).
"Well, these arm tickles don't cost anything," I say. (lame)
It wasn't a good answer.
"Mom. Watching TV even costs money because you had to buy the TV." He didn't stop there. "And even walking on the land in our back yard isn't free, because you paid for it."
"That's true. But the air we breathe and the relationships we have with the people we love don't cost a thing," I say, hoping it will suffice.
It was not what he wanted to hear.
I couldn't come up with anything satisfactory.
I wanna say that he could read a book for free, but I know he'll say that you have to pay for the book. I wanna say that he could go for a bike ride for free, but I know he'll say that you have to pay for the bike. I wanna say his public school is free, but the truth is, we pay taxes to pay teachers, and I don't really want to explain that yet.
So instead, I say that this is why the relationships we have with people are so very important, because they don't cost a penny, and they bring us the greatest joy. I say that this is why he gets in trouble when he fights with his sister or shows disrespect to me or his father or anyone else, because, short of the family he one day creates for himself, we are the most important people in his life. I go on to say that there are a lot of things in life that are free.
People who come into our lives who mean something to us.
Really, though. How do you explain to a 3rd grader that what matters most is to love and be loved? And that it doesn't cost a dime...
He was silent. I could tell he was digesting this. But who knows how much of it he really got. Because I said, "..oh and we don't have to pay for these sweet cuddles at night and in the morning, right?"
"Yeah, but the bed we're laying on costs money," he countered.
I love watching this boy's brain develop. It's remarkable to see. And it's free of charge. (I think...)