Dollars to doughnuts

Recently my 11-year-old son Oliver asked me out of the blue if I thought working at a doughnut factory would be a good job.

At first I said no. But when I thought about it, there would be several advantages to working in a doughnut factory. For one, you’d go home smelling like doughnuts. Eventually, you’d get sick of doughnuts and stop eating them for awhile. Both good things, don’t you think?

Ever since he started talking about 10 years ago, Oliver’s observations have given me perspective on things I’ve either never thought about or hadn’t considered in a long time, including the benefits of making doughnuts for a living.

Oliver and I went to the Dollar Store to pick out out some gift cards.

“If I was a grown-up,” he said, “I’d buy some of my groceries here because they have the same things with lower prices. Look at all these sodas!”

He stood marveling at shelf displaying a rainbow of soda drinks and then picked up a 2-liter bottle of sparkling strawberry lemonade.

“Look at this!” he said, amazed.

And isn’t it pretty amazing that 2 liters of lemonade can be purchased for $1, when a simple 16-ounce bottle of water is $4 or $5 at one of those museums in Washington? One soda will cost you $4.99 at one of our local movie theaters.

As we made our way through the aisles, he kept pointing out all the products sold for much more at other places. I didn’t bother telling him that they’re not always the same products or the same quantity and that sometimes Dollar Store bread tastes like fabric softener smells. Instead, I decided the Dollar Store might really be better place to buy nuts than Martin’s.

Later that day, I took both of my kids to McDonald’s. I was focused on parking when they informed me that the car beside us almost certainly doubled as someone’s home because it was filled with garbage, clothes, and empty food containers.

“It’s dirtier than Bob’s car!” one of them said.

(Bob is a pseudonym for one of our actual friends.)

“If I lived in my car, I wouldn’t keep so much trash in it,” Oliver stated.

I told him the guy who owned the car probably hadn’t cleaned it out in a couple of days.

“A couple of days? Did you see all those soda cans?” he asked me.

“Well,” he said, “the back does look sort of cozy. There are some pillows back there.”

I am concerned that as my children get older, I’ll have to write about them less and less to protect their privacy. What will I write about once their quotes stop being funny?

When I told him I planned on writing about things we talked about that day, Oliver was concerned that our conversations would offend people who work at doughnut factories, causing them to attack us.

I told him I didn’t think that was very likely.

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