My children love money. They make minute study of the Queen's head and of the date of minting. They rejoice in coins released during their birth year and in coins with an extra polished sheen. They squirrel their riches in a mysterious system of purses, pockets and money boxes and occasionally, after grave reflection, they take a few coins out and spend them.
Ever since my mother handed my daughter a quid and informed her that, at six, she was old enough to receive pocket money, I've sacrificed a portion of my weekly earnings to my babies. For two years it was 50p each. Then, when Haribos caught up with inflation, I recklessly doubled it. Since few of my friends had begun the habit back then, I had no benchmark against which to calculate their dues. I worked on the premise that my 10p a week income in the early 1980s funded a bag of sweets and so my children should be enabled to afford the same.
Swiftly they learned that they could blow their weekly hand-out on a chocolate bar, or else save it for grander thrills. And their prudence could have spared the Greek economy. Small Son, when he can resist temptation no longer, treats himself to packs of J-cloths, lip salve and Post-it notes. My daughter makes an occasional trip to Claire's Accessories and buys hair bobbles. Mostly, though, they bide their time until something large and irresistible in Toys R Us inflames their fancy.
I, meanwhile, congratulated myself on the fact that they are learning the value of money and that my weekly bounty absolves me from random requests for treats on shopping trips. This week, though, I read that the average child receives £350 a year in pocket money. Does this make the average parent irresponsibly indulgent or does it make me a scrooge?
I consulted Twitter and I learnt the following: all of the parents who responded give their children at least £2, apart from the two whose offspring, enviably, expect nothing at all. Teenagers pocket sums ranging from a weekly fiver to £20, with extra usually added for phone credit. One ten-year-old's income is based on the going rate for a hotwheels car; others depend on whether or not they've fed the family chickens or unloaded the dishwasher. For, crucially, almost everyone either added a supplement for chores successfully completed, or deducted sums for inadequacy - 10p per misdemeanour in one household and total withdrawal of funds for slummy bedrooms in another.
There are two revelations here: one that I am a confirmed scrooge; the other that I'm missing out on the opportunity to use the weekly pittance for enforcement.
And so, while the working nation endures a pay freeze, my pair will rejoice in a newly doubled income. Only this time they must earn it. Rooms must be tidied, beds made and cats fed. I shall put my feet up on bin night and overcome the hosepipe ban by sending infants round the borders with watering cans.
An extra £2 from my purse each week is small price to pay for the leisure I shall enjoy and I shall not permit guilt to interfere with this vital scheme for their development. After all, as tweep whose six-year-old does not yet receive pocket-money declared, 'They get food and lodging. What more could a child need?'
Advice please! How much money do you think children should receive? Does your bounty come with strings attached? When did you start doling it out?