Luke's dream: A tiny fistful of dollars

Life lessons from running errands.

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Adobe stock photo
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Running errands with my 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy, and 4-year-old son, Luke, often requires some campaigning. 

Brian McMillan
Brian McMillan

“Let’s go put air in the tires before we go to the park, guys!” I said one day last week, exuding pure Dad energy.

This time it worked (meaning Kennedy said something like, “I guess,” as she looked out the window), and we pulled up to a gas station. 

“First, we need to find six quarters,” I said, fishing around in that little cubby hole between the front seats, otherwise known as the minivan’s junk drawer.

“Here you go, Luke,” I said, placing the quarters in his tiny hand. “I need you to hold on tight to these.” He promptly dropped two of them.

When it was time to put them into the coin slot, I could see the delight in Luke’s eyes, and the jealousy in Kennedy’s. I realized it was the first time — and for all I know, the last — that either of them would ever put quarters into a machine. So I let them take turns.

“Next, unscrew this little black cap and hold on tight to it,” I told Luke. “On second thought, hand it to me, and I’ll hold on tight to it.”

We raced around the van to beat the clock, and listened for the beeps to indicate the air pressure was now perfect. Out of breath, we buckled back up and drove away.

The next time, a few days later, my errand got me into a bit more trouble. This time, I was with Luke only, and we had to go to the bank.

Reaching for my hand as we crossed the parking lot, Luke asked, “Can I get some money here?”

“No, I don’t think so,” I said.

“Just one?” he asked.

I kind of forgot about his request, withdrew some $20 bills, and we walked back to the van.

“Where’s mine?” he asked.

“Sorry, but you don’t get one,” I said.

I didn’t realize how earnest his question had been until he burst into angry tears as I buckled him into his car seat.

“Hold on, Luke,” I said. “Why do you want money? All your needs are met.”

“What?” he asked, genuinely puzzled by the connection I was trying to make between “needs” and “money.”

Not really caring what my explanation might be, he continued, pleading, “I just want a singular $20 bill.”

“No, you don’t need one.”

He was quiet for a minute, and then he said, “Is some of it for Mom?”

“In reality, all of it is for Mom,” I said.

“Can you give it to me, so I can give it to Mom?” he asked.

“No, thanks.”

“When you’re not looking, I’m going to take one.”

“No, you’re not.”

A few hours later, he was FaceTiming with Grandma, and I figured he had forgotten all about it — until I overheard him say, “How much dollars do you have in your purse?”

Apparently out of all the lessons I had tried to teach Luke during his short lifespan, what he had heard instead is that money is what matters most. Next time I go to the bank, I think I’ll let Luke stay home to play Monopoly instead.



Brian McMillan

Brian McMillan and his wife, Hailey, bought the Observer in 2023. Before taking on his role as publisher, Brian was the editor from 2010 to 2022, winning numerous awards for his column writing, photography and journalism, from the Florida Press Association.

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