These days, Dante is all about the money. He’s had a coin pile and a couple of different kinds of banks in his toy repertoire for a while now, and he’s gone through other money phases, but this is the fiercest one I’ve seen yet.
It started a few weeks ago, when his Aunt Ellen sent him a Valentine’s Day card with a $5 bill tucked in. This was the largest amount of currency he’d ever held in his hands, certainly the largest denomination he’d ever called his own. The excitement of scrutinizing it and all its features sent him scurrying back to his coins, to re-examine them in all their wonderfulness. Laura, clever mom that she is, had at some point acquired the Rock N Learn DVD about money (we love those Rock N Learn things — they’re both funny and content-rich) but was holding it in reserve for the right occasion. And this was it! So now he watches the DVD with his coins laid out before him, holding them up and dancing them around at the appropriate points.
This burgeoning obsession dovetailed nicely with a planned trip to the library, so now he’s got a couple of books about money, and is educating himself about coins from the U.S. and around the world. He’s got a handful of foreign coins (and a couple of bills) compiled from various sources, and has split up the piles according to a wide variety of criteria. And in a side effect the U.S. Mint couldn’t have planned any better if they’d tried, the Sacagawea dollar and Lewis And Clark nickels sparked an interest in that expedition. Actually, come to think of it, the Mint probably did try to plan that.
So he had pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and a few different dollar coins. He got a $2 bill from that selfsame aunt. And he greatly admired them all, but there was one coin he lacked: the JFK 50 cent piece. He was most vocal on the subject of the 50 cent piece. “Do you have a 50 cent piece?” “How can I get a 50 cent piece?” “Why is it hard to find a 50 cent piece?” And so on.
Then, this week, his loving adult benefactors came through once more. My dad happened to have a 50 cent piece in a safe deposit box, and sent my mom up here with it. Not only that, she brought a gorgeous 1923 silver dollar coin. Dante was over the supermoon about these. Now his questions go like this: “Do you have all the kinds of coins that have been minted by the United States? Well I do! Would you like to see them?”
We had one of each kind of U.S. coin from his collection laid out before us on a table, and I started arranging them like the planets. As he observed, we happened to have nine of them. “What a coincidence!” I said. Then he replied — and I swear this actually happened and was not lifted from the ending of some 70s sitcom — “No, what a COIN-cidence!”