Kids are expensive.
Your own. To keep and look after, I mean.
Obviously, it’s a given that buying a child on the black market costs a bomb. There are officials to bribe, swarthy men in dark suits behind nightclubs to pay and guilty-looking nurses in squalid third world orphanages who set the whole process in motion. Or so I’m guessing anyway.
With the credit crunch well and truly upon us, I have tried many different ways to cut back on the vast expenses which our children thrust upon us. With limited success, it has to be said. But I have found some pleasure in getting the most out of the money that we are spending.
Take Alex’s playschool for example. Each morning when I drop him off, I take time out to help him paint a picture. And I don’t mean any of that minimalist crap, either. The more paint, layer upon layered layer, the better. It’s a flat monthly fee for the playschool and I reckon that we use up about 75% of the paint budget on Alex’s early morning art alone. Good value.
Obviously, the end result is usually pretty grim to look at: often dark and thick, black and grey and deep purples merging with one another. The teacher has actually suggested a visit to an educational psychologist as a result of reviewing his work, but that sort of specialist help costs money. Which defeats the object. Or objet in this case, I guess.
Today, I took the kids to Westlake Park (which is, in fact, just West of a lake) (genius). Westlake Park is not a park at all. There isn’t a blade of grass, a gang of dodgy looking youths or any dog excrement to be seen anywhere. What there is, is a collection of restaurants and a giant jungle gym:
Westlake Park: great for kids, heavy on the wallet
Normally, we would pop down there in the morning, have a cup of coffee or three, maybe a slice of cake; while the kids play happily on the jungle gym. And then demand ice cream. Pricey.
Or maybe dive in there early evening for a pizza and a couple of beers or a glass of wine; while the kids play happily on the jungle gym. And then demand ice cream. Pricier.
Today, I had a great idea while enjoying that coffee. Having whisked the kids off to Westlake, I was sitting and pondering on how we could save more money. And then it came to me. I quickly canceled the cake I had just ordered and chatted to my three-year-old son. You would not believe how happy he was to be asked if he wanted to spend the whole day on the jungle gym. Of course he did!
So having finished my coffee and paid the bill, I nipped off home at 11ish, watched the rugby all day and went back at 6 to pick him up.
Well, that was the plan anyway. The police actually dropped him off here at about 4 o’clock, as the restaurant was closing for their pre-evening break and had noticed he was still there. Alone. While they waited for the police to arrive, he got an ice cream. All I got was a stern ticking off and made to promise not to do it again. Oops!
But that’s a 3-year-old entertained for 5 hours, an ice cream, chaffeur-driven home and a coffee all for the price of a coffee.
So guess where we’re going tomorrow? See you there, errant dads of Cape Town!