Given the sorry state of the economy, I have been extra vigilant about spending. I also decided recently that this is as good a time as any to extend my kids’ understanding of ‘health’ to understanding the ‘health of the economy.’ So last week embarked on a discussion about dollars, cents and piggy banks which lead to the topic of resources and waste. A noble conversation I thought, at least in its inception.

Last Friday at 11.30 am, my daughter called me from school. I am always on red alert when I see the school’s phone number show up on my cell phone. The paranoia in me tells me instantly that something might be wrong. Luckily, it turned out to be nothing more than an earnest request for permission to go out to lunch with a friend whose parents had decided to give her a birthday treat during the lunch hour. Relieved that the afternoon would not involve any emergency room procedures and distracted by my work project, I granted permission instantly without thinking about the lunch I had packed for her that morning.

I was later told by the rather amused parents who took her out that my daughter had accompanied them to an Italian restaurant with her lunch bag in tow and while they ordered a full fledged Italian meal, she diligently insisted on munching her tomato and cheese sandwich. Apparently later on she conceded to ordering dessert!

“We already talked about low waste lunches Mom, remember?”said my daughter later in a effort to calm me. She could tell that I was mortified by her apparent lack of manners. “I listened to what you said and didn’t want to waste money.”

All weekend I kept thinking how manners reflect on a child’s upbringing. That I really need to reconsider how impressionable my kids are before I start teaching them life’s lessons without thinking about possible repercussions. I had only myself to blame. But then someone reminded me this morning, if teaching your kids value for money were that easy, we might all have fatter bank balances than we do today.