Extreme Couponing

It’s probably my fault. I know I am supposed to supervise what the kids watch on tv.

I kind of supervise. I read the list of programs on the DVR. I can tell which kid is watching what by the show titles. My 15 year old watches the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. He likes Modern Marvels, Mythbusters and The World’s Biggest Engineering Feats. My son Ian still likes cartoons and is likely to be found watching Dragon ball Z or Pokémon. My son Oliver loves only nonfiction programs. Among his favorites is; I Shouldn’t be Alive, Pawn Stars, and American Idol. These shows share one thing in common; they all lead to viewer to believe that anything is possible. Oliver is the dreamer in the family and has a passion for game shows and magicians. His new favorite show is Extreme Couponing. At first it seemed harmless. He would knock on my bedroom door and ask to speak to me, and then embarked upon a lengthy discussion about how much some women saved with coupons on a recent shopping trip. I nod in all the right places and said sure and yes at just the right times. Little do I know that I was creating a retail monster! I notice my email filling up with offers from KFC and Arby’s for a free sandwich with the purchase of a medium French fries and a beverage of my choice. Then Oliver started leaving internet coupons on my desk for 2 free bagels at Bruegers with the purchase of a dozen. He began pressuring me to take him, a vegetarian, to Boston Market, to get a free kids meal for kids under 12, the coupon he had found at a website called Couponmom.com. Later I discovered that in the absence of having his own email, he used my email to sign up for Coupon of the Day, Extreme Grocery.Net, Krazy Coupon Lady and Coupon Suzy.

When he discovered the weekend circulars loaded with their fancy brightly colored coupons we had reached the tipping point. He spent one whole Saturday watching Extreme Couponing on television while clipping coupons from the newspaper.

“Mom. Mom, look at this,” he would say every 15 minutes . Then he would show me a coupon for some new sausage meat or household cleanser.

“Look this one is for flavored milk, can you use it?

“I can use,” I say not looking up.

“Look at this, 55 cents off salami and onion cheese.”

“I don’t want salami and onion cheese.” I tell him.

He doesn’t care.

When I walk into the den I witness a sea of coupons all over the couch and floor.

“You have to clean this up!” I tell him

Yeah I’m gonna clean it all up. Look at this coupon, do you think we could use this?

It’s a coupon for Loreal hair color.

“No,” I snap and remind him to clean up the mess.

He goes out rollerblading and comes back in 20 minute later with another stack of coupons.

Where did you get these coupons from? I ask

I found them in the neighbor’s garbage. He says proudly.

I should have said stop it. I should have said stop looking through the neighbors garbage. I should have said no garbage picking. Instead I said

That’s nice honey, don’t leave me a mess.

He then started asking the neighbors for their weekly flyers and newspaper inserts. One Sunday he came back with a tattered piece of cardboard from a 12 pack a coke.

Mom, mom check it out, look coke rewards, he showed me nearly falling over himself in pride.

Later that night he asked me if we could go dumpster diving. I told him we would have to go in the middle of the night. I thought that would discourage him, but instead he pointed to the television and said look, this family goes during goes during the day.

He has stopped visiting my ex on the weekends. What with the circulars coming on Saturday and people throwing out their recycling Sunday, he no longer has time to visit his other parent.

Just go for the day I say Saturday morning. He is afraid to go. He is afraid he will miss the chance to rummage through some neighbors garbage. “I’ll keep all your coupons safe,” I tell him

“Will you drive around the neighborhood?” He asks in earnest. “

“No, no I won’t drive my car around our neighborhood looking through the neighbors trash’” I say solemnly

Then I can’t go he says and resumes his clipping.

Sunday is long. At 8am there is a knock on my bedroom door.

“Mom are you up yet” he calls from the other side of the door.

“Yes,” I answer from under my covers

“Look mom, this is a coupon for Joanne Fabrics. It is a coupon for 40% off.”

I squint at the tattered paper and discover that it is a coupon for custom framing.

“I don’t want custom framing.” I tell him and push him off my bed.

Should I save it anyway he asks

“No,” I shout at him.” No I don’t need custom framing, don’t want custom framing leave me alone.”

Unfazed he knocks at my door minutes later .Look mom, 2 dollars off a honey glazed ham.

I’m making breakfast, eggs toast, he wants to know if I bought the eggs with a coupon.

Yes, I answer defensinvely.

“I have more coupons for eggs,” he continues. “Can we go to the store today?”

I ignore him.

Later, while brushing my teeth I hear a voice from behind me. How much did you pay for that tooth paste?

“Why?” I ask through a mouth full of tooth paste.

“I have a coupon for toothpaste; you could have saved a lot of money.”

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