In CMSP we’re doing multiplication word problems, and the kids are struggling with stuff like, “Ms. Frizzle can type 68 words per minute; how many words can she type in 3 hours?” So today’s lesson was all about the
desired dreaded totally necessary peppermint mocha.
Ms. Frizzle loves peppermint mochas, I said. And they’re very expensive, they’re like the most expensive coffee ever. If I get a grande with whipped cream, it’s almost $5. This probably violated several rules about being sensitive to social class and whatnot… but I think the kids have figured out that I have a paying job. And several nodded enthusiastically and knew exactly what to say when another student interrupted, What’s a peppermint mocha?
So, anyway, let’s say I drink about two peppermint mochas a week, for maybe three months. How many weeks are in a month, approximately? Okay, so that’s two peppermint mochas per week for three months, four weeks in each month. And they are $5 each, and I’d say I’ve been doing this for maybe 10 years… audible gasps… or, if not ten years yet, I don’t think this is the last year I’ll be drinking them… I put the kids to work figuring out how much money I’ve
wasted invested wisely spent on preserving scraps of joy in my life. $1200. Lovely. That’s more than ten pairs of sneakers, the kids told me. Or a laptop! Or a car (well, not a very nice car… but yes, you could get a car for that). You could build a new school! (Um, no).
Next assignment: choose something you buy every week and figure out how much you’re spending on it in a year. Every kid came out with at least $100 spent on junk food, sunflower seeds, you name it. One boy figured he was spending over $2000 a year on junk food (but he included sandwiches in that, so I pointed out that I didn’t want the kids to go hungry, just to think about where their money is going). As they shared their responses, I asked them what else they could buy with that money, what they could save for. And then we went on to lottery tickets, looking at the thousands of dollars spent on lottery tickets and the low odds of winning (this argument was totally undermined when not one but TWO of my students claimed to have relatives who’d won cash in the low six-digits…).
My grandmother spends even more than that on lottery tickets! one boy said, I have to talk to her!
Well, just be gentle…
And the day ended, and on the way home I found myself craving pepperminty goodness. Having internalized nothing, I had my friend drop me off at the nearest Starbucks and braved the biting winds to indulge in a drink that was cold before I’d walked a block towards home… but, really, I survived and even enjoyed (!) the first day back and for that, I deserve a splurge. Right?