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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
The Capitalism Unit
Because I had to drive home to pick up two things Skylar needed for school yesterday, I returned right as the kids were beginning their first day of shopping at the "mall." For five weeks they have been learning about business. They went to Krispy Kreme, which was great fun, Bank of America, which was boring as hell, and the Zoo which was totally awesome. They have also been learning about concepts like profit, expenses, and interest. While I wasn't so pleased with the phase of Skylar's engagement that led to her obsessing on collecting money, often from my dresser, I have to admit that the unit has taught her plenty of useful things. And it's only first and second-grade after all.

Anyway, yesterday was the first of two days in which all the children's efforts paid off. They had been making products, planning a business strategy, writing advertisements -- you name it. But the items they were selling -- for the made-up currency of their community, which they'd earned by doing homework and other tasks -- were so adorable that my normal antipathy to the mall experience was rapidly overrun with joy.

Here's a picture of the booth that Skylar helped to plan and run. They're selling rainsticks. That's Skylar's best friend in the black shirt, extracting the requisite "suns" -- their community is called "Sundown City" -- from her pouch full of earnings:

Skylar was slated to be a seller today. Yesterday she got to be a buyer. The girl loves to shop. Here she is checking out the "pillow pet" booth in the adjoining classroom -- the two classes do some things together -- which was one of her favorites. She went there early in her flâneurie.

There were also raffles and contests at the "mall." Skylar played the game where you're supposed to catch a fish with a hook for a magnet. She got one.

By the end of her whirlwind shopping trip --yes, Mr. Dimmesdale, I know that "whirlwind" is a cliché -- the Bean had a bag full of lovingly hand-crafted items. You can tell how much fun she was having:

I'd rather go to an alternative mall where people sell what they made themselves than wander through the perfume-laden piles of pointless imported merchandise at the conventional sort. Not having to use dollars is pretty sweet too. I guess I'll have to give the capitalism unit a grudging thumbs-up after all.

Mode: tight-chested
Muse: the Rankin-Bass Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

13 comments or Leave a comment
tensleep From: tensleep Date: December 17th, 2005 02:41 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I went to one of these with my niece and nephew...I felt the same way, though begrudgingly...
Last year we didn't buy gifts and asked not to receive gifts we were disgusted so much with the whole American Christmas experience. This year we compromised and bought all our gifts from a nonprofit fair trade store. For the first time in years, I felt happy buying gifts. For what that's worth :-)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
If only we could do the same. Skylar, alas, is at an age when the lure of consumer goods is still routed through the mainstream. But she liked the handmade stuff a lot as well. I just don't think she's going to be saying no to Mattel anytime soon!
tensleep From: tensleep Date: December 17th, 2005 02:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I hear you. People who have kids amaze me. This whole issue (as well as many other cultural issues) is one of the reasons I've opted not to have children. I'm glad you're willing to do it to keep the species going :-)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The species is going to hell. And there's no justification for having a kid. But we had one. And we love her.
tensleep From: tensleep Date: December 17th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have to smile. This is not the response I get to my decision when at family gatherings. I have a friend in Cbertsch.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Of course! I miss you in your house too. The new occupiers have large dogs that bark when we're in the back yard. Arggghhh!
danthered From: danthered Date: December 17th, 2005 05:30 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Say, these are terrific photos. They remind me of my capitalism unit, which was in...ummmmmm...third or fourth grade at Cherry Hills Vilage Elementary in Englewood, CO. The teacher was Mona Imber, and she was quite the odd duck who spent all day, every day, on an Apple //e computer. I can't imagine she was getting much done of use. Our currency was called "Panda Papers", don't remember what the town was called (might've had panda-something in the name). To sell, I made scented candles (ghey!) by melting candlewax and crayons into Campbell's soup cans with a suspended wick, and then adding things like mom's almond extract, mom's ground cinnamon, etc. When it came time for me to be buyer, I got ripped off by that bitch Dani Wiley, who was selling name tags made with a Dymo labelmaker. It was three for one money. I paid, but I got two labels that said
D A N I E L . S T E R N

and two that said

She refused to refund any of my Panda Papers, the little...

Anyhow, thanks for the memories!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2005 06:30 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oh, I feel your loathing of Dani Wiley. I remember students I loathed. I once bit a girl in kindergarten because she had curly red hair and an English accent. Seriously. I don't know why I did it, either, other than to just do it.
From: zokah Date: December 17th, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
heh. I once bit a bit a girl with curly red hair and an English accent but it wasn't in kindergarten.

:: sigh ::
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
From: zokah Date: December 17th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
:: shhhh, quiet! ::

I'm busy googling her to see if she's still around!
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: December 17th, 2005 07:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
From: samifo Date: December 17th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I love the kid in the first picture secretly flipping off the camera. So punk.
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