Monday, March 31, 2014

The Value of a Dollar

In February, Mannchen went to a Lego themed birthday party.  We gave the birthday boy a Lego set of a logging truck.  I didn't take Mannchen with me to the store to pick out the gift (I avoid taking my children into the toy section of a store at almost all costs), but I let him look it over after I brought it home.  He fell in love. 
My boy wanted Lego's and he wanted them bad.  We talked about how that would make a great birthday or Christmas present.  But that just wouldn't do.  His birthday isn't until August.  So we discussed how he has more than enough toys.  Mommy and Daddy wouldn't buy him any Lego's until his birthday, but if really wanted them he could work hard and earn his own money.
And boy did this kid ever work.  He did yard work with my dad.  He helped me clean my grandfather's house every week - he washed all the windows, doorknobs, front/back doors, stove top, washed dishes, dusted, etc.  He helped clean our house.  He folded and put away laundry.  He worked hard for the money.  To be perfectly honest, his sister helped on occasion with these tasks also, but she didn't have that same motivation to fuel her fire.  She's only three - so it followed much more of her typical style of "I'll do what I want, when I want."
Last week, he counted up all his dollars and quarters - $23.25.  The firetruck he decided he wanted was $19.99.  Time to head to the store.  The poor kid had to wait until the evening because I was busy baking a cake all morning and then I had to work in the afternoon.  But finally, finally, after swimming lessons, we went.
I directed Mannchen to the Lego section (trying to blind him to all the other aisles over flowing with toys we prefer not to allow in our house).  I explained to him which sets he had enough money for and which ones he would have to continue saving in order to buy.  Being the logical little man that he is, he decided to get the firetruck that he had enough money for.  He really liked the massive rescue set that cost $99.99, but decided he should start small to make sure he likes them.  Such a smart kid.
He carried his box to the register with such confidence.  I smiled just seeing how excited and proud he was.  We had a really patient and sweet cashier - she was happy to let him count out all twenty-one dollars on his own.  I'm always thankful for other people who understand how important it is to give kids space and time to do things on their own.
Because we didn't make it to the store until later in the day, he had to wait until the following morning to start working on building the truck.  As soon as he woke up, he was at the coffee table getting to work.  In fact, hubby and I woke up to the sound of Lego's being poured onto the table.  He did not want help building it.  This was his toy and he wanted to build it on his own. 
Daddy explained how the directions work. 

And he was off.

My little boy who still sleeps in footy pjs really isn't so little anymore.  This kid is so inquisitive, so reflective, and one hell of a self-motivated working man.  I'm telling you, if the world doesn't beat him down first, he is going to move mountains. 

No breakfast for me today mom.  I have work to do.
I am so proud of how he handled this entire situation.  It didn't bother him in the least that he had to earn his own money.  Sometimes it really feels like he already understands that life won't be handed to him on a silver platter.  If he wants something, he's going to have to work for it.  And working hard is something he is so good at.
This whole process (along with the fact that I am currently reading The Hurried Child) really got me thinking about how our society is so quick to force our children to grow up when it comes to activities/sports and academics.  We expect them to participate and excel in activities that are not developmentally on par for preschool age children.  Yet at the same time, we completely under-estimate the abilities they do have.  They are capable of completing great work.  They have so much to contribute around the home and they do it with enthusiasm!  Letting kids help and get involved in the work of a home isn't always the quickest option.  But, when we slow down and give them the time they need to excel, they truly achieve greatness.  Once again, Mannchen has taught me how capable he is and how much he can achieve, as long as I'm willing to slow life down and give him (and his sister) the time and space to do so.