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Penny Millionaire

Written by Jennifer Womack

      Parents lead you to believe their excitement about grandchildren hinges on the little joys of kids around at Christmastime, cute sayings and the wonders of childhood. I’m here to tell you they have a much bigger motive…it’s a chance to get even for your own childhood misdeeds.
    While Christy and I were in Weston County doing interviews for the Winter Cattlemen’s Edition this past December, we stayed in Sundance with my folks. My son Joshua came along and spent the days with my dad while I was off “working” (this is the part where Dennis pays me to come to your house and visit with you!).
    Like I said, while I was off working, Joshua and Dad were doing what grandpas and grandsons do while mothers are away. They fed the cows and Joshua, at four, “drove” every vehicle with four wheels on the place. For a more “urban mother” that would be a startling occurrence in and of itself. It is a bit of an inconvenience – once we arrived back home it took us a few weeks to help Joshua realize there are limits to when and where he can drive. Note to the mothers of all four-year-olds – TAKE THE KEYS OUT OF THE CARS!
    After feeding on day one it was back to the house for lunch, after which Dad fell asleep in his recliner. Joshua meanwhile unwrapped the Christmas presents. I guess it’s been a few years since Dad spent the entire day with a four-year-old. Number one rule — no napping allowed.
    By day two Dad, prompted by the wrath of Grandma (Dad, not the grandson, was held fully responsible for the unwrapped Christmas packages), skipped his after lunch power nap. Joshua had discovered Dad’s coin stash…the jars in his closet he’s been saving his pocket change in since sometime in the early 80s. Joshua is convinced Dad’s a millionaire…if you can be a millionaire in pennies that statement appears true.
    Amazingly, Dad agreed to help Joshua count the money to see just how much there is. When they were done counting, Joshua’s payments for his services — $55 in pennies. Before in this column I’ve admitted that I have trouble keeping my millions, billions and trillions straight. I know exactly how many pennies are in $55 — enough to fill a vacuum cleaner bag.
    Once we have these pennies, Chris and I begin the daily routine of living with a “penny millionaire.” In stores our conversations go something like this:
Joshua: “Can I get this?”
Mom/Dad: “No, you don’t need it.”
Joshua: “I’ll pay you back when we get home.”
Mom/Dad: “In pennies?”
Joshua: “Yes, I’ve got a lot of them.”
Mom/Dad: “We know.”
    I tried to convince Joshua to take his pennies to the change counting machine and cash them in. He’s not ready to give up his millionaire status so we continue to tackle the problem with the vacuum cleaner one penny at a time.
    I do, however, have another clever approach. Joshua, who believes pennies are the greatest gift one can receive, gave Dad a cardboard heart filled with, not chocolate, but pennies for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure what we’re filling for Father’s Day, but an iced tea jar seems fitting for a summertime holiday.
Jen