Childhood should be about magic, not paying rent

Shot of a young brother and sister playing in the rainhttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/i_collage/pi/shoots/783464.jpg

OPINION: From a young age I always wanted to be a rock star. I used to watch a TV show called Top of the Pops religiously, in awe of the men and women who stood in front of a microphone bellowing out songs. It was the 70s and glam rock was in full swing and I found the performances mesmerising.  

When I was old enough I bought a guitar, taught myself how to play and started writing songs, still convinced I would one day be headlining Wembley Stadium. 

One night as a teenager I snuck out of my house and cycled to a pub that was having an open-mic night. It was a cold night. I cycled without gloves, and I remember having to warm my hands up under a hot tap before I could strum my guitar. 

Armed with a song called Invisible Man I had written myself about being unemployed in Thatcher's Britain I walked on the stage and started to sing.

At least to me it was singing. 

To the crowd it was intolerable and within a few minutes they slow handclapped me off. 

On the long cycle home it slowly dawned on me I had come up against the insurmountable hurdle of having absolutely no musical talent. And that was the end of my musical career. 

My point is this. During my childhood my desire to be a rock star was a fantasy, it was a dream, born out of nothing and had no chance of ever happening in the real world. Except to me it was real, It was childhood innocence at its best. 

And that is what childhood should be about. It is a brief period in our lives and one where, for most of us anyway, we are able to enjoy life without worrying about money, or food, or a roof over our heads. 

We are truly free to be whatever we want to be. 

But not for the daughter of one American mum. 

Essence Evans recently posted she makes her five-year-old daughter pay rent. 

American mother admits to making 5yo daughter pay rent

In fact she gives her daughter $7US a week in pocket money, and then deducts $5. In her post she says that is for rent, water, electricity, food and cable. She gets to keep the balance and is allowed to do whatever you can do with $2, probably not a lot these days. 

The $5 actually goes in to a savings account, so it's not really paying rent but a savings scheme so the daughter has some money when she turns 18. 

Ms Evans says this strategy "not only prepares your child for the real world. But when they see how much real bills are they will appreciate you for giving them a huge discount."

The post was picked up by Stuff opinion writer Carolyn Tate who, lamenting her own five-year-old child had no idea about the value of money, said "When It comes to teaching our kids how to manage in the real world, it's never too early to start."  

I am sure there are lots of parents out there who agree with this, and fair enough. 

But there is plenty of time to learn about the real world when you are living in it. Let childhood be a time when you live in a world where the idea you can be a rock star is real, not a world when you are worrying if you have enough pocket money to pay the rent. 

Mark Longley is Newshub managing editor 

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