I am very happy that Chestnut is grooving on Dancing Shoes, and Ballet Shoes, and a variety of other mid-twentieth-century British children's books. But there is, as with all things, a rub. Just lately we have entered treacherous waters.
See, I have managed for a great many years to hold within myself two contradictory conditions:
1) I have a great love for English novels
2) I have some sort of ongoing mental block that makes it impossible for me to comprehend British money, past, present and future.
I lived happily this way! I just sort of…skipped that part. Hard, especially in Moll Flanders, but I managed. But now things are catching up with me. The other morning, Chestnut came down to breakfast and said, oh so casually, "How much is sixpence worth?"
Sure, I tried to play it off with the old "Well, it's worth sixpence."
But I knew what she was asking. And I knew I had met my Waterloo. I tried: "Well, it's a little bit of money. Pence are like pennies."
Of course, it couldn't end there. "What's a pound?"
"It's like a dollar."
Pause. Furrowed brow. Contemplation (on her side).
Icky stomach feeling. Dread. Anxiety (on my side).
And then in for the kill: "What's a half-crown?"
Damn you, British writers! I have no freaking idea what a half crown is. Nor, for that matter, what a crown is. And don't get me started on shillings. I sort of think I know that a pound and a guinea are the same thing, but I wouldn't stake my life on it.
And what's worse, those names make it all so appealing! Having half a crown to spend on sweets seems so much better than having fifty cents (though it's probably in no way comparable as an amount). Though it often leads to the Land of Incomprehensible Change, where you give someone half a crown and for change you get "seven and six" or maybe "seven shillings, six pence and a farthing." What is a farthing?
This is the problem, and wonder, of having an exact child in your house. She actually wants things to make sense. While I am perfectly willing to drift along and feel like it's fine that I don't really know what is going on.
I'll be you ten pounds she's a greater economic triumph than her mother.