Out Of The Mouths Of Babes – Gifts From The Heart


This is a Zebra Cake.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Little Debbie makes about half a bazillion of these every other week.  It’s made with sugar, corn syrup, enriched bleached flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, polysorbate 60, soy lecithin, and all the other things a growing boy needs (and maybe even a little bit of real zebra).  It’s 2.1 ounces of youthful, sugary goodness, and you can find them all day for 50 cents each.

You can’t buy this one at any price, though, because this one is special.  My son Austin bought it for me.

Right after dinner this evening, Heather and the boys went to the store to buy more milk (I should just buy stock in a dairy farm and get it over with).  Apparently, Austin picked up a Zebra cake from one of the impulse racks without Heather seeing it, and proceeded to take it to the checkout lane.  Along the way, he was fiddling in his pockets for loose change.

“What are you doing?” Heather asked.  “Did you bring money with you?”

“Yes.” Austin said.  “I’m buying this for Daddy.”


Let’s take a moment to put this in perspective.


Austin has this thing for money.  He counts coins the way Rain Man counted toothpicks.  He has a piggy bank that we use to help teach him about saving money, and we have to constantly remind him to quit playing with it because money isn’t a toy, but he just loves to stack and count his money.  He’s like a little Scrooge McDuck.

In recent time, Austin’s got it in his head that he just has to have a Nintendo DS.  He doesn’t yet grasp the scale of what he’ll need to save to do that, but he’ll figure it out in time.  In the meanwhile, we’ve been working with him to teach him the concept that you can’t just want something and wait for it to magically appear – you have to work for it.  So he’s been doing odd jobs around the house, and he’s been discovering that he can sell things to earn money, too.  His latest business venture is to buy these sheets of stickers that cost something like 25 cents each for a sheet of 25 stickers, and then selling the individual stickers at an exorbitant markup a retail price of $1.25 per sticker.  Of course, he found a sucker willing customer in dear old Dad.  I told Heather that I needed to help Austin understand that if you mark up the price too high, you’ll drive away customers.  But then Heather reminded me that in one sale he quintupled his money, so I guess Austin’s been studying the P.T. Barnum theory of capitalism.  All he needed to find was the right sucker.

At what point do you teach your kid supply-side economics, anyway?

The moral of the story is this:  Austin is dead-set on saving money for a Nintendo DS.  For him to take 50 cents of his hard earned money and buy his Dad a treat that he knows Dad likes would be like me taking my hard earned motorcycle trip savings and suddenly buying my wife 500 skeins of yarn.

It’s not the Zebra Cake, it’s what it represents.

In this case, it represents a little boy doing something very selfless, just to show his Dad that he loves him.

If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings even just a little, then there’s something wrong with you.

And now, I think I’ll go share my Zebra Cake with my son.