I'm pretty sure every parent does this. I know that I was twelve at the movies until I was fourteen. That saved my dad three bucks at a clip. I just bought a yearly membership to a local aquarium for my daughter's birthday present. It's one price for adults, and another for kids aged three to twelve. When I walk into this place tomorrow, she'll still be two. Thirty bucks in my pocket. Excellent.
Why do we do this? I'm not sure. On some level, I feel like I'm beating the system. I like to justify it by thinking that I can buy Casey fifteen boxes of her favorite Life cereal with the money I save. I'm doing it to feed my kid. Reason enough. I want to feel bad about it, but I really don't. I do what I have to do in order to survive and to make it look to Casey like there is no struggle. Not every parent can do that.
When my dad did this, it was at the movies, at mini golf courses and wherever else he could get away with it. He grew up with very little, so I understand why he did it. It was probably natural for him. I always felt like we were being rebellious, and I think that part of it stays with me. Yes, it's good to save money, but that little battle to see if I can outsmart the corporation makes it exciting.
I don't ever want to burden Casey with my struggles. She already has a mentality that she wants to take care of me. She likes to hide in my bed, and she'll tuck me in like it's nap time. She also likes to share her food with me and makes sure I get a hug and kiss just because. I worry that she senses that I need those things. Jay Leno once said that he would make his mom laugh because he knew she was sad. Maybe it's that, or maybe she's just compassionate. I hope it's the latter.
When I was about four, my parents split up. That's when I was told that I was the man of the house. I'm not kidding. I heard it many times. I had no idea what that meant, but it effected my entire childhood. I felt forced into a leadership role that I didn't want. I was constantly aware of how broke my mom was. We were told to ask our dad for the child support checks. We were asked about how he lived and how he seemed to be doing financially. I never really felt like a kid. I was always under some sort of stress.
I veered into things that helped me regain some of my childhood. Music, movies, comedy and just plain acting like an ass with my friends helped. I still didn't like hearing the gloom and doom. That's tough to process when you're very young. I know it's a part of life, but a ten-year-old shouldn't have to worry about those things.
I won't burden Casey with that stuff. She's the cure for that stress, and I'd like to keep it that way. Yes, I'll lie about her age to save some cash here and there, but it'll be the same kind of game that my dad made it for me. It's fun to get away with things, and I think it'll be a nice little bonding experience when she's older. The real trick will be convincing someone to give her child prices and give me the senior discount at the same time. That'll probably never happen. Damn my boyish good looks!