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Monday, September 12, 2011

find a penny, pick it up

Both my smalls have recently developed an obsession for picking up "found" money.  You know, lucky pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes randomly laying on the ground.

At first, I thought the "lucky penny" thing was exactly that -- lucky.  But as the days and weeks of this new monetary fascination has continued, I've realized that there is, apparently, a lot of money on the ground.   A LOT.

Like, one of my kids finds coinage EVERY time we go somewhere.  Every time! Which got me thinking...

Where the hell does it all come from?

I mean, maybe if I looked down at the ground every second like my smalls are doing nowadays, I'd have found a lot of lost money too.   How much money had I walked past in my life, oblivious to it laying on the pavement, just waiting for someone to claim it?  And if I didn't see all the money that has potentially been laying on the ground, well, then what else was I missing?

This has really troubled me.

How were my kids finding all this money?  Is the key in the actual looking?  Do they will it to appear?  Is there a fairy that sprinkles coins throughout the city, like treasure, waiting for it to be found by children such as my own?

At first I felt guilty letting my kids keep all the money they were finding, because, frankly, there was a lot of it.  It wasn't that it added up to a large amount of dough, per se, it was that it wasn't really theirs to begin with.   That money had belonged to someone else, and it felt strange collecting so much of something that was lost without having a way to find it's rightful owner...  Then there was the feeling that the kids didn't need the change as much as someone else might.  Somehow it just felt like dirty money, even though it's discovery couldn't have been more innocent.

I've been troubled by this too.

But, my smalls enthusiasm, their exuberance in finding a nickel, penny, quarter or dime has eased me into apathy.  Every errand has the prospect of a treasure.  Every schlepp leads to potential coin lotto.  Piggy Banks are filling, found money is being saved, and wish lists (a by-product of this found $$) are being thought of and compiled.  With every journey, there is an excitement in the air!

I wonder if the people who dropped their money have any idea the joy they've created?  That penny that was too much of a hassle to look for, that sneaky quarter that jumped out of your hand at the parking meter, or the rogue nickel that wouldn't stay in your pocket...

Thank you.

You have ignited curiosity, determination, and pride in a 7 and a 4 year old.  I assuage my guilt by knowing that those feelings are worth more than anything the penny, quarter, dime or nickel would have bought at, say, 7-11.


  1. I never pick up pennies when I drop them because they seem useless for parking meters and pretty much everything else. Glad to know I may have created joy for your kids:)

  2. Much thanks for your pennies, Christina!

  3. I think this just shows that kids "see" so much more than we do. It's that whole idea that we learn to walk through the world with blinders on. It's one of the greatest parts about having kids. They make you slow down and look around.

  4. A penny found is a penny earned. A penny for your thoughts. In for a penny, in for a pound. Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. Penny wise, pound foolish. Funny how something so small is a symbol of such large things.