There's nothing like an awkward question from an inquisitive child. Some can be funny, while others are tough to answer even for the most seasoned of parents.
The questions start off fairly easy: how do fairies make rainbows? Or why is the grass green and the sky blue? And my all-time favourite: why do we need money?
A good question, and one that I often (more cynically than not) ask myself.
But being the responsible parent that I am, I roll out what has become known in our house as my tedious lecture on why money makes the world go round and why we need it to live our lives comfortably: paying for education, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the roof over our heads, our car, our utilities, phones and holidays, just to name a few. This is usually when my daughter's eyes start glazing over because my lecture fails to include fun, treats and all things pink, which are just a few of the necessities of life for a little girl.
The younger the child (preferably below the age of five), the more impressed they are with your answers - and you can get away with all manner of "creative" tales to get you out of a tight spot.
Slowly, however, your answers begin to elicit more whys than nods in agreement that mummy (or daddy) knows best, especially when they start asking where they came from, leaving you to go around in circles until you are blue in the face and you have to put the kibosh on it by telling them it's bath time.
Which is then followed up with a whine: "But why do I have to take a bath now?" And with that question, you know you've just entered a new, frustrating world where your authority - and once impressive knowledge, at least in the eyes of a pre-schooler - will forever be challenged by your kids. How I mourn the days when "because mummy said" still had an impact on my child.
My latest tricky question also involved money - not ours, but somebody else's. Well, the bank's, really. I didn't see it coming, but then again, it was inevitable when you think about it.
Now that my life has been catapulted into the modern age of banking thanks to the convenience of having a debit card (see On The Money, April 2), I don't have as much use for my UAE credit cards anymore. And this has been noticed by my eight-year-old daughter in the few short weeks that my debit card has been activated, which prompted her to ask: "Can I have a credit card like you, mummy?"
And there it was: the sickening realisation that I'd failed as a fiscally responsible adult in the eight years I'd been a parent. I'd forgotten to explain the pros and (mostly) cons of credit cards.
Like any good mother, I ducked for cover to buy a little time and came up with the stock strategy of every parent the world over: answering a question with a question.
"Why do you want a credit card?"
"Because you have lots of them and I want to buy things with it," she replied.
"What are you going to buy with it?"
"Games for my DSi and Wii, pretty things, nail polish ... all my favourite things."
"And who do you think pays for it?"
"You do, of course."
Like mother, like daughter. Although she's now proved that she's a little smarter than I because she knows exactly where her bread's buttered.
For the record, I said no to the credit card, but not before I launched into yet another tedious lecture about money, which now incorporates some hastily ad-libbed information and statistics on the dangers of credit cards and the obscenely high interest rates they attract in the UAE. A punishment considered worse than being sent to her room.
Back in my day, kids operated on a cash-only basis, sourced either from their weekly pocket money in exchange for a range of chores around the house, or a badly paid part-time job.
I'm still a little old-fashioned and my daughter's weekly source of cash comes from me in the form of pocket money. She's a great saver, simply because the core of her savings strategy is to conveniently leave her money at home when we are out. She does this knowing that she's got her own mobile bank (that would be me) she can tap into at will for a spot of interest-free credit. And then count on me to forget to get her to pay me back.
So, my newfound mission in life is to lay strong foundations for my daughter to become financially aware and responsible.
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough for all children and I hope the foundations I am working on now will transform my daughter into a fiscally responsible adult who will avoid unnecessary debt, plan for the future, keep a nest egg for emergencies and avoid tapping into that mobile bank she's become so used to.
Oh, and to beware the pitfalls of credit cards as much as possible.