Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
There we were, trapped at home because of the rain, and, in between the drizzle, I noticed that the garden was disappearing. It all seemed to be the work of a couple of snails. Sneaky, slippery things. My clever idea to get rid of them involved my kids, and seemed to be a happy solution all round. Ha! Little did I know it would lead to my current state of bankruptcy.

It’s not a massive sprawling garden, just a small backyard, big enough to have a braai and sit in amongst the pot plants. Anyway, the herbs, flowers and shrubs are supposed to be shooting up in a verdant spring explosion, not shrinking.

"Ok, children", I said, in my best Commanding Officer voice, "we’re going to deal with these snails. For each one you collect, you get 20 cents". (20 cents? I mentally chastised myself, you mean 5 cents, idiot!) I’ve never seen anyone’s ears actually perk up, but I swear there were three sets of perky ears as they dashed off to find a snail-gathering tub.

They cleaned me out. Not only did they clear out the garden of every visible snail, but they emptied my treasured jar of 20 cent pieces. Karen took the tub of oozing, slimy and slightly disorientated molluscs out to a field and released them, while I performed the role of a man defeated in a game of poker.

In just one hour, they’d doubled their usual pocket money (every week they each receive the equivalent of their ages in cash- Jonah gets R6, Hannah, R9 and James, R12). I’m guessing many of you have your own complex pocket money accounting styles.

They could hardly get home to their mom, and, when they did, the new professional snail-wranglers looked around her snail-infested garden with glee, dollar signs flashing in their eyes...

The next day, it poured again, and I’m not lying when I say there were twice as many snails as before, sliding their slithery pirouettes across the walls and garden furniture.

If I didn’t trust my kids more, I’d suspect them of smuggling them in.

Ignoring any ants (I can’t quite put a fair rate of exchange on an ant), I’ll stick to dealing with pests with more financial prudence in future. R100 per iguana, I’ll tell them. That’ll keep ‘em busy for a good couple of hours.

How much pocket money do you give your children, and how do you calculate it?
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