What would you do if you won a lottery?
Everybody plays this game. We do, and we don’t even buy lottery tickets. Christopher, 20, will sometimes come down crabby in the morning, saying he had the unconscious version of the game: the lottery dream. He has dreamt that he won, then woken up to laundry strewn across his floor, a hairball outside his bedroom door, and toothpaste in the sink. In other words, his real life.
Tired of the ridiculous odds (and no actual ticket), my sons have switched this out for a far more fruitful dream. Mom’s life insurance. Growing up, my parents believed in keeping us informed of all the parts of running a household. I knew how much the mortgage was, the groceries, the hydro bill, and my dad’s income. I’ve done the same with my boys, because clueless children can become clueless adults and being 30 years old and unable to run a household is not attractive.
We’ve discussed insurance – car, health, life – since they were small. I wanted to assure them they would be taken care of if I died, and that their intense sense of loss would be mitigated financially, though they of course would never be expected to recover emotionally.
“So, how much are we worth again if you die?” asked Ari, 18, at dinner the other night.
“$250,000, plus that other smaller policy, plus the house, minus the mortgage,” replied Christopher. Instantly. I glared at them both.
“What?!” asked Christopher. “You told us! It’s not like we’re going to kill you or something.” Ari had a calculator out.
“Every time I get on a plane, I worry about you brats, and this is the thanks I get? You’re planning the party?” I asked.
“Wait,” said Ari. “Wouldn’t a plane crash be considered accidental death?”
“Hey! It doubles!” said Christopher. “I forgot that part!” If I hadn’t been at the table, I’m certain they would have done a high five.
“We could definitely keep the house, and have lots left over,” said Ari. “Two birds with one stone.” I’ve never heard Ari use that expression before.
“I’m the older one. I want the house,” said Christopher.
“That’s not fair. Mom, why does he get the house?” I looked at them blankly.
“I’m not even dead. Are you both really asking me that?”
“Oh, right, I forgot. He’ll be able to buy me out,” nodded Ari.
“You know, it’s a good thing you’ll both only be in your thirties when this is all over,” I said. “I couldn’t take a lifetime of listening to you ponder your worth when I’m gone.”
“What do you mean,’ in our thirties’?” asked Christopher.
“This stops when I’m 65,” I explained. “It’s term insurance.”
“What’s that mean?” asked Ari.
“It means that I pay until then, and then it’s over. It’s insurance, not a piñata full of money that you’re just waiting to whack. When I hit 65, it’s over.”
“So you’d have to die before you’re 65?”
“Yeah. It’s like collision insurance on an old car – pointless. After 65, despite your grief, I presume you’ll both be quite able to support yourselves. Frankly, your independence better happen a lot sooner than that.”
“Wait. Does the accidental part stop too?” asked Ari. He raised an eyebrow at his brother.
“Better sleep with one eye open from 64-and-a-half on,” said Christopher.
I may kill them both long before I hit 65.