I don’t know what it is like to be a dad to girls, but I imagine there are plenty of princess dresses and tea parties. I’d guess there are fewer poop jokes and that it might be possible to get through a day without sullying at least one shirt with sweat, blood, dirt, or food.
But mostly I’d guess there is far less destruction of property. Watching my niece’s open and then play with their toys at Christmas is a nice change of pace from watching my own kids.
My boys seem to take it as a personal challenge to see how quickly they can break or otherwise ruin a new toy. I don’t think they intend to destroy it, but there is something in their wiring that makes them want to see what happens when they hurl something full force into the ground. (Maybe it’s testosterone?)
There hasn’t been a structure that my boys don’t want to climb: tree, lamppost, mailbox, and fire hydrant. You name it, if it’s more than two feet off the ground, my boys will try to climb it.
What Goes Up…
But that’s only half the fun, the next inevitable challenge is getting down. After all, if climbing up was fun, then jumping off will be twice as fun, right?
Well, not for dad, who quickly checks his bank account to see if he can afford to pay for a broken leg this month. Turns out, I can’t, and my success in convincing them not to jump is completely contingent on how far away I am from them.
If I’m within a ten-foot radius, I can usually talk them down. If you’re imagining a well-meaning police negotiator with a bullhorn desperately trying to convince a man on the ledge of a building that he has so much to live for, you’re in the right ballpark.
However, if I’m more than 10 feet away, my boys seem immune to my influence. It’s as if my voice can only carry 10 feet and then it evaporates. Clearly ignoring my protests, my boys will launch themselves off of whatever structure they’ve climbed.
They’ll land hard and crumble to the ground. And then I’ll hold my breath. Just waiting. Will it be a deafening shriek followed by a trip to the hospital? Or will they pop back up and start the whole horrific ordeal over again?
More often than not, it is the latter. But for varieties sake, it has occasionally been the former, sans the trip to the hospital…at least not yet. (Knock on wood, cross my fingers, and whatever other superstitious voodoo I have to do in order to ward off this inevitability for as long as possible.)
The Cost of Doing Business
Despite our good fortune in the “no broken bones…yet” category, we haven’t raised them without incident. There has been one hospital visit and a series of stitches. Turns out socks, wood floors, and the corner of a chair are a bad combination.
Then there was the time my oldest broke our handrail, because why walk down the stairs like a normal person when you can hang from this minimally braced chunk of wood attached to the wall?
Which brings us to the event simply known as “the incident” around our house. During our 8 years of debt repayment, we lived a fiscally lean life. Only buying absolute necessities. This did not include a new TV, which I desperately wanted.
For years, I made do with our 400-pound 32” tube TV (Millennials may need to Google what a tube TV set looks like). Then after 5 years of earning points on Swagbucks and getting gift cards, I was finally able to buy a beautiful 55” HD TV.
It was a blissful step up…for about six months. Then my youngest (who was 18 months at the time), threw a water bottle across the room, directly into the TV. At first, I was relieved to see no damage was done. But later that night when I turned the TV on, I realized how wrong I was.
The exterior glass had remained intact, but the interior screen was destroyed. This led to severe distortion on the screen and rendered the new TV unwatchable. (My TV viewing has since consisted of the charity of family and friends, as I have not bought a replacement TV.)
And the most recent incident (the one that inspired this post) was the clichéd throwing a rock through our window. I’m convinced this one is Karmic retribution, as I broke a few windows in my day.
A Near Miss
This isn’t even counting the near misses. The most heart stopping one from the preschool era. My wife’s wedding/engagement ring had gone missing, which isn’t uncommon, as she tends to leave it around the house.
However, after a thorough search over the course of a few days hadn’t yielded any results, she began to get nervous. After exhausting all of our other leads, we asked our oldest if he’d seen a ring. He proudly proclaimed that he’d given “a shiny ring” to a girl at his preschool.
A panicked phone call later, we discovered that the “shiny ring” he’d bestowed to his classmate was just a plastic trinket. A few days later my wife’s ring did turn up. Crisis averted…this time.
All of these incidents, plus a few more, got me thinking. I really should have a separate fund, just to cover the inevitable cost of having boys.
Using our emergency fund doesn’t seem right. An emergency fund should be used for unexpected expenses. My car has over 220k miles on it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when it breaks down.
I’ve planned accordingly and been squirreling money away into a separate “car fund” for the past couple of years. So when my car inevitably quits on me, I will have the funds to replace it and won’t deplete our emergency fund to do so.
Having boys seems to come with a similar inevitability. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but my boys will end up costing me money.
This left me with the question: if it’s inevitable, is it really an emergency? Should I be drawing down my emergency fund every time my kids do something destructive?
My Answer: No
And thus the “I have boys” fund was born.
It works like any other fund I have. It’s a separate savings account that has money filtered into it each pay period. It likely won’t be much (probably under $20). Then when destruction strikes, this fund will be the first to be drained.
Let me know what you think? If you have kids, have you done something similar? If you have both boys and girls, are boys, in fact, more destructive than girls? What ways have your kids cost you money?