Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the $24.95 box and what it taught me

I still remember the first time I saw it. Sitting there on the shelf, just begging me to play with it. It was the coolest thing e.v.e.r. My brother and I decided that we just had to have it. We immediately asked Mom if she would buy it for us. I honestly don't remember if I was surprise at her answer, but I do think I was a little bit disappointed. She had said no. She told us that if we wanted it, we would have to work for it and buy it with our own money.

At the time, it seemed like we would never, ever, ever get enough money to buy it. But did that stop us from trying? You bet your bottom dollar it didn't. (yeah I know, horrible pun) I don't remember much about the process of saving for it. I don't remember how we earned the money. But I do remember that we worked together. And I do remember that it seemed to take for--ev--er to earn enough money to buy it. Maybe it was only a week. Maybe it was a month. But for us, it seemed like years.

Finally the day came. I'm pretty sure it was a Saturday. We made a special trip into town to get it. I remember sitting in the car, counting up pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. (No joke.) I remember us handing over the money and finally getting to hold the box. Oh the sense of accomplishment! Oh the sense of pride! Folks, that may have been one of the greatest moments of my childhood. Why? I will tell you why.

It wasn't about the box, or what was in the box. It wasn't about the fact that we were getting something new. It was about the fact that we had done it all by ourselves. Could our parents have afforded to buy that for us? Probably. If they would have though, would it have helped give us a good work ethic? Absolutely not.

Folks, while I remember playing with it after we bought it, it honestly wasn't our favorite toy. What I remember most about it was the fact that my brother and I had to work for it. It wasn't handed to us on a silver platter. It wasn't even handed to us on a dirty, wooden platter. We had to work for us. At that young age, my parents were instilling a great work ethic into us.

Of all my childhood memories, this one always stands out to me. Whenever I see the box sitting there with the other toys, fond memories come flooding back and I get that same sense of pride as when I first held it in my arms. Throughout my life, I have had to pay for a lot of stuff that most kids don't have to pay for. Clothes, cell phone, car insurance, etc, etc. And while it hasn't always been easy (at times it is down right hard), I think it has been worth it. I take better care of my stuff this way, because I am the one who had to work to get it. And I have a sense of pride and satisfaction that I wouldn't have if it had just been given to me. It has also taught me how to handle money with common sense that isn't so common anymore.

I would like to say two things. The first thing is to parents. Please don't be afraid to make your kids work for stuff, even at a very young age. Society will thank you for this, and so will your kids. The second thing is to kids. Don't hold it against your parents if they make you work for your own stuff. It will make you a better person if you have to sweat a little for something you want. Trust me on this. 

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