I can’t remember the last time I saw a piggy bank outside a Toy Story movie. It used to be that every child had one, although I’m unsure as to the history of the piggy bank, or why someone thought that sticking money into a porcelain pig was a great idea. But the point is, children used to earn their allowance by doing jobs, and then they would carefully plunk their coins into the back of their little piggy, and then they’d rattle it to see if it sounded any different. It was a ritual, a happy childhood tradition.
In today’s society, though, things are different. Children are more accustomed to seeing debit or credit cards swiped through machines than they are good old fashioned coins and dollar bills. They often get their allowance by having Mom or Dad take them to the store and buy something of a value equivalent to what they’ve earned. It’s not necessarily a bad change … it’s just different.
Personally, I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t more fun to earn money a little at a time, to hold it and count it with grubby fingers (okay, some children had grubby fingers. I never did. I was a perfect model of hand-washing) and carefully drop it through the slot – plink, plink, plink. I think it provided more kinesthetic satisfaction, a feeling of having really earned something, a tangible reward to hold in the hand.
And let’s face it, pigs are cute. They’re pink and pudgy, they have such friendly faces … who would want to part with a pig?
So have piggy banks gone the way of jelly shoes and beehive hairdos? I hope not. I hope that somewhere, there are children who go to sleep at night dreaming of earning money to go in their piggies. I hope that they can learn the value of hard work, and what it means to hold those coins in their hands, and that the joy of earning doesn’t get swallowed up by this system of electronic exchange of goods.