Baby's First Bill

Feral hormones. Psychotic dread. Contemplative depression. Fiscal uncertainty. Such are the trappings of pregnancy. With body, mind, soul, and waistline completely out of whack, there are few black-and-white certainties in the pregnant woman's world.

Except for money.

Author, actor, and playwright Betsy Howie latched onto the world of accounting to keep her sanity (sort of) during her 365-day ordeal of expectancy.

In her therapeutic tome Callie's Tally (or: What My Daughter Owes Me), she presents an obsessive accounting of her baby's first year of debts. Every nipple, iron tablet, Pamper, and peppermint patty (for postpartum blues) is documented, categorized, and meticulously inputted into Quicken. No small sum this child racks up. At the end of year one, Howie presents Callie with the grand total: $26,099.59 for all billed and non-billed expenses.

Callie does get a few freebies along the way. For example, in celebrating Callie's first fiscal quarter, mom throws her a party for which her daughter is not billed for even one plastic fork. And mom is certainly sensitive to the plight of long-term debt. "I'm not suggesting she has to pay me back right away, but eventually... ," she writes. Hey, what more generosity could the costly child ask for? The kid gets the loaner interest-free.

Howie's kid isn't even close to the terrible teenage years. Just wait until mom gets slapped with a $600 cell phone bill. Before it's time for "the talk," we suggest parents sit down with a few more instructive tomes -- like Spock, Seuss, Ferber, and even Freud, if you must. For little Callie, we suggest she start investing for her therapy fund, like, yesterday.

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