Growing up the oldest of six children, there wasn’t any room for selfishness or entitlement. Any trace of that junk was nipped in the bud pretty quickly in those close quarters. Six kids to one single wide trailer. You do the math.
What I did learn as a child was to share, to eat what you were served and to be thankful for your home and your family.
We were at my parents house for dinner, and as I was helping my Mom prepare the veggies I noticed that our eldest son Asher wanted to use the electric leaf blower to blow the leaves off of the front and back porch, and some of the driveway. I wasn’t surprised he wanted to help out in this way, his Daddy is a landscaper, and he is driven with tasks. Asher has made it clear that he feels important when he has a specific job to do.
Don’t all men feel that way?
Asher continued to blow the leaves off the property for about an hour, upon which I made him come inside and eat some dinner. He begged to go back out and finish the job. Once he had gone as far as he could, he came back inside and sat down at the dining room table with the family.
” Phew! I worked a lot Mom. It’s finished now though.”
My Dad, noticing how practically adorable and tired he was, handed him five dollars. In ones Asher counted them, as his eyes grew larger.
He had never had that much money to himself in his whole life. Until then quarters and dimes in his piggy bank made him feel rich, but this. This was real money. He put the ones in his pocket, and I watched as he sat down. Satisfied. Willing to work again. Happy. Accomplished.
It was time to go to the grocery store for the week. I planned the trip purposely for after Asher was out of school for the day. The van lit up with conversation on the way. Word got to his sisters that Asher had money to spend on whatever he wanted. Both girls spoke loudly of their opinions on the fact that they would not be indulging on any candy stemmed from hard labor. Two sisters, sobbing to have just one dollar of their brothers money were relentless.
The screams of unrighteousness and all other equal rights made its way up to my ears in the front seat. Trying to explain to them WHY Asher has money to spend and they do not wasn’t easy. But it was a lesson I needed and wanted them to learn right now. Right now when they are still young, when they can still understand that life isn’t always equal, not always fair.
At times they will have to celebrate other peoples successes. I wanted them to get used to that. So, when their big brother gave them each a dollar, I made them give it back.
Because Asher gave his money away because they were whining. They were obnoxious and crying for the money that he earned on his own. This reminded me all too much of the society we live in today.
Lets all be equal. No one can have what I do not have.
When the fact is that when people work hard, they should be able to spend their money freely. This is another subject for another time. But I wanted my children, all of them to understand what it means to work for what you have.
In the grocery store, Asher counted his money. Five dollars he had to spend. I gave him the choices of his amount of money as I saw the wheels spin inside his head. I could buy two of these, or three of these. Or I could save it for something special. But who am I kidding. I’m a seven year old boy that loves candy that my Mom refuses to buy for me.
Can we please note that my boy is going for the only organic thing on the shelf. He truly is mine by birth.
I continued to converse with his sisters about the fact that Asher did not have to share his money with them, it was his. He had earned it, and deserved to do what it what he willed.
Aisle after aisle the items in the chart changed as he made the most important decisions of his life. To him, this choice had to be perfect. He had worked too hard to just blow it on ring pops when the Mr. Goodbars were on sale.
Finally he made his decision, added it to the cart full of green things and we headed to the check out counter. His smile said it all. He had earned that GMO candy, and he knew it. I put my items on the belt first, and paid for mine while he stood back in awe of what he was about to purchase.
I will never forget those eyes as the cashier told him the total, and he counted his money. He willingly handed over the three dollars he owed, smiled and stood back to look at his purchased goods.
One pack of mints and one bag of Sour Patch kids.
I hope he remembers the day that he bought something with the money that he earned. I hope he remembers the way I told his sisters that they were not allowed one bite unless he offered. I hope he remembers the way I valued his work ethic, and his hard earned money.
Being the sweet big brother he is, once we got to the van he offered each sister a piece of candy. It’s in his nature to love and to give. He even offered one sister a dollar of his own money for the next time we are in a grocery store.
Although I saw his motives as pure, I made the sister give the dollar back.
Why? Because I am the meanest Mom around.
No, because I want him to be proud of the money that he earned. I don’t want him to be manipulated by people trying to take what he has worked earnestly for. This sister was sobbing, saying that she had no money.
Asher had the big heart to give her some, which I LOVED. Don’t get me wrong. I love a giving heart. But what I do not love is when people are manipulated into giving.
We should always give out of the kindness of our hearts, with the Lords prompting. Many times we have found ourselves in that same position. Knowing full well that the Lord wants us to give.
Asher worked hard for those five dollars. The first five dollars he has ever earned. I wanted him to feel seen, important and valued. Regardless of what his sisters complained about, he was valuable to be able to raise that kind of money.
Hard work pays off. Never let our children believe it doesn’t. Teach them the value of working for what you have. Respecting other peoples successes and valuing hard work for others, whether it pays or not.
Above all, teach them to give their all when doing chores around the house, or small jobs for others. There is something to be said about a child that values working, and the result it brings.
I never want any of my children to feel like this world owes them anything, but that as children of the one true God, they have all they need.