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Out the mouth of an almost 11-year-old

By: Tony Overbay, humor columnist
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One of my favorite parts in any good, cheesy movie is when the hero, often with his or her last breath, suddenly turns the tide on the evil genius and says, typically while overpowering the aforementioned bad guy, “So now the student becomes the teacher!”
I’ve always wanted to use that line. I’ve tried a couple of times but it just hasn’t come out as hoped.
Changing a diaper is about as close as I’ve been to solid (pun intended) use of the phrase but typically the baby being changed doesn’t pick up on the irony.
My wish was granted this past week, not once but twice, both times by my soon-to-be 11-year-old (don’t call her 10!) daughter.
First, a bit of background. For the past couple of months, my wife and I have been trying this thing we’ve heard of called “a budget.” It hasn’t been much fun.
Here’s the basic way it works. Whenever you want something, you have to tell yourself that you can’t afford it. You also write down all of your expenses and, by about the middle of the month, you realize that you’ve spent more than you actually make so you stop writing everything down and you go back to the way you were living, content to try again next month.
This time, however, we’re determined to at least track our expenses for 30 days.
Actually, that’s my out, I used that exact wording with my wife and I haven’t told her which 30 days I’ll be tracking.
Definitely not last Wednesday when I left my power bars and raw nuts at my desk and ate at In-n-Out, followed by a Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookie chaser.
The difference with this attempt at not just announcing, but sticking to the budget, has been my constant preaching of “wants versus needs.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said the phrase over the past couple of months, we wouldn’t need to be on a budget in the first place.
If you want to take the fun out of any shopping trip, other than bringing along four children, just say the phrase, “is this a want or a need,” whenever you even start to get excited about buying something.
Inevitably, the item ends up in the “wants” category, which means that it’s not going to find its way into the shopping cart.
I like to buy things. I’m like a kid at times; I just want to buy something for the sake of buying something.
Money burns holes in my pocket. I don’t care what it is, either. As long as I leave Target with a tube of Chapstick, I’m OK.
On this particular occasion, I was eyeballing a funny T-shirt online. I called my daughter over to look at it. “Dad?” she asked, “Do you need it or do you just want it?”
I, well, um, it was a picture of Christopher Columbus and his crew meeting the cast of Gilligan’s Island and, to me, that’s a need!
But alas, she deemed it a want and told on me to my wife, to boot! I was foiled by my own attempts at teaching economic discipline.
Just a few days later, my daughter asked me about my job. I’m sure they were talking about the economy at school so she asked me if I was ever worried about being laid off? I explained to her that I worked for myself and that, so far, I had been relatively pleased with my own performance so I felt my job was safe.
She said, “What if you aren’t making enough money for the family, do you have a backup plan?”
A backup plan?
I already felt terrible about almost buying a $10 T-shirt and now she’s asking me if I have my career ducks lined up in case of hard times?
It took me nearly 40 years to finally become the teacher. Now, how can I get my almost 11-year-old to resume her role of student?
Tony Overbay is a 16-year resident of Lincoln and a father of four. Tony Overbay is a marriage and family therapist intern and runs Diskology.com. You can read more of his writings online at www.tonyoverbay.com.