Friday, Aug. 25, 2006 | As a parent of two young kids, I deal with change all the time. The problem is dealing with too much change, especially when the kids’ eyes are on me.

I don’t mean change as a tumultuous period. I mean change period. As in nickels, dimes and dollars.

For some reason, when I’ve been in stores lately, the employees have been extra generous with their boss’ money, handing me more than I deserve.

I was in Whole Foods recently and the cashier tried to give me an extra 20 cents and when I was at a record store, the indie guy with the shaved head tried to slip me an extra dollar.

Back in the old days, I would have gladly pocketed the cash but now it’s a real moral dilemma.

You see, my once carefree attitude towards money I don’t deserve has changed now that Alex is three and closely watching my actions in public.

I realize that if I’m not honest in all my actions, she’s going to pick that up and I don’t want her to do that. Not until she’s moved out of the house anyway.

I think most parents who get extra change will return it – if their kids are around. But because I don’t want to be inconsistent any more than I already am, I am trying to remember to do it even when Alex, my daughter, and Owen, my son aren’t around.

It’s not easy. Some clerks who hand out too much money would probably rather I take the cash and shut up instead of speaking up and being honest. Others simply look at me like I’m an idiot.

That’s when I explain to them that I am a parent and I want to be a good example for my kids. Then they really look at me like I’m an idiot.

Sometimes, I wish I could slide like in the pre-Daddy days when I would attribute any piece of extra lucre to good karma. Now, I feel that if I’m not honest, my daughter and son will be on a slow boat to prison and a bit part in the next “Scared Straight” video.

So far, I haven’t been morally tested in a situation that really counts – when my daughter could see it. Oh, actually I have.

I took her through a Taco Bell drive-in recently and one of the folks handed me three extra tacos I didn’t order. I didn’t notice it until I got home and justified my unwillingness to get back in the car and return the freebie tacos by saying it would just hurt the environment.

I’m setting such a good example.

David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer whose prime parental philosophy is “Do as I say, not as I do.” He can be reached at moyemail@cox.net. Or, send a letter to the editor.

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