“Can we have a lolly now?” Miss7 begged me for not the first time that morning.
To be fair, though, the stall was directly opposite where we’d been set up at Fernvale Country Markets for the last six hours so the kids couldn’t help but eye the sweets off all morning.
“Okay,” I said, and nearly lost my footing in the push that followed as our five kids made a dash for it before I changed my mind. “You can have one dollar each to spend and we’ll fix it up once we tally everything up.”
This pulled Master11 up.
“One dollar!?” he protested. “It’s our money, Dad. We earned it.”
They did too.
“Just one dollar,” I repeated to Master11. “Otherwise you’ll spend all your profits in one go.”
As part of their homeschooling, our kids will occasionally be running their own stall in markets. They’re selling doll clothes we bought in bulk online for the purpose. We figure it’ll be a fun way to incorporate maths into their curriculum, plus teach them about customer service and budgeting and stuff like that. Like, straight off the bat they learned if you’re in retail and have an early start, go to bed in your work clothes.
The kids packaged up all the clothes all by themselves, making dress/shoes/bag sets of some things, and set up their store and then got to work being nice to everyone who stopped by while I went in search of decent coffee and bacon rolls. Miss5 had an interesting sales approach where she’d hand out a carry bag and then ask people what they’d like to put in it.
Perhaps because of this hard sell approach they did better than I expected them to. Although we have told the kids they can split any profit amongst the five of them, after the site fee and paying us back for the original stock purchases the whole thing’s just a learning exercise as far as I’m concerned. So I was super shocked when we closed shop at midday they’d actually sold $70 worth!
So when I mention I thought they’d earned a sweet treat, I’m being genuine.
When we got home we packed everything away, had showers and the kids pull out their pens and paper to see how they did for the day.
Almost immediately, there was a problem.
“Why do we have to pay for the dresses?” Miss9 wanted to know. “We already have them.”
“Because we bought them and now you have to pay us back,” Tracey explained.
“But you’ve already paid for them, so why should we have to pay for them again?” She was equally as frazzled about the $23 site fee they had to account for. “We shouldn’t have to pay for that either.”
“Because we didn’t ask to do this shop. You’re making us.”
Eventually we got the older kids focussing on their sums while the smaller kids, still shovelling sherbet into their mouths, watched on in eager silence.
The silence did not last.
Certainly, within five minutes, the whole mood on the bus took a dive no sugar high stood a chance of being an antidote to.
Miss13 figured it out first. We could tell because she was suddenly very still and staring off into the middle distance with her mouth slightly open, her pencil poised above her book. Master11’s pencil, although a tad slower on the page, was much more animated as it went flying past my left shoulder and into the back of the bus somewhere.
“I sat there for six hours! Six hours!” our son shouted. I’ve never seen him so angry. He was hilariously ropable. I’m not sure the sorts of riches he was picturing going into this venture, but I suspect the games I’d overheard him planning on buying were slipping out of his mental grasp. “FOR ONE DOLLAR!”
Seconds later, sensing something was wrong with the universe, the younger kids joined in being upset too, and tempers and tantrums, in addition to the odd pencil, were flying around the bus. I know I’m prone to exaggerate a little bit, but I am totally underselling how furious they all were. There was so much wailing going on, Sea Shepherd sent a delegation to investigate.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s just a learning exercise as far as I’m concerned. I’m pretty sure all the kids are clued up on that as well now, although I did explain if they sell twice as much they’ll make more than twice as much profit each because the site fee only comes out once. That didn’t help calm them down as much as you might think.
“Wow,” said Miss9 in a decidedly sarcastic tone from where she was lying cross-armed and shitty-faced in her bunk. “So then we’ll make six dollars for six hours work.” Yay for maths! ” Who cares. I’d rather sleep in.”
Me too. We were out of bed at five friggin a.m. I’ll just have to keep reminding myself this is for their education. Actually, I’ll probably focus more on the brewed coffee and bacon rolls, but education is a good reason too.
So there you go. The kids each made one dollar profit from their first day running a market stall.
The only thing I still have to explain to them is they each owe me a gold coin for the lollies they bought when we closed up shop – but I’ve decided to put that off until I can hide all the potential projectiles on the bus.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
Currently reading on my Kindle: On The Origin Of The Species