Recently, we were at a Cutting Horse Event to watch our brother-in-law compete. A sweet lady said, “If the kids want to play, we don’t have any fancy toys, but we have cups, sticks, and dirt.” I was thrilled because playing in the dirt is their favorite. She gave me a strange look, but as soon as my kids jumped under the bleachers, a bunch of other kids came over to play. I love seeing their creativity flourish around others.
By Nicole Nowitzki
Children have this amazing ability to see outside the box, and when they are around others, they share their ideas and visions with each other. I love listening to the magical worlds my oldest son creates and the sound effects that my twins come up with while they are playing. It makes me wonder what happened to my imagination. What happened to the whimsical little girl that was always creating, singing, and pondering? Why did I let her go?
We get so wrapped up with fancy packaging, lights, bells, and whistles, and we forget to just let them be kids. I could stand to have a yard-sale, but we would need to borrow about four more yards to sell all of the things we don’t really ‘need’. This consumerism is spearheaded by us, their parents. I think we may be teaching our children that we always need the bigger and better thing without even knowing it. Is this stifling their ability to be content? Is it stifling our ability to be content?
While I ponder that thought, it also makes me remember sitting at the table with my mother every Saturday, when I was a toddler, and she would take out her gallon zipper bag filled with her bills, checkbook, envelopes, and stamps. She would be paying bills and would talk about how she needed to save money for certain things, pay our bills, and sometimes stress about making ends meet. I never went without, but she certainly did. I don’t do this with my children, and sometimes I wonder why. She never did it with my brother or sister, but I think it’s because we were in a different stage financially. I learned to be a saver from my mother. It’s important to understand the concept of money, even when you are small.
When I was 17, I was running errands with my three year old sister. I stopped to get $5 worth of gas (remember those days), and she asked me why I didn’t use the magic card. I was confused because I didn’t have a debit or credit card at that time, so she explained, “If you put that magic card in there, then you don’t have to pay for it.” I tried to explain that the money was in the bank, and you were still paying, but that was much too abstract for my tiny sister. That didn’t stop me from laughing about it all day.
I love hearing children speaking to their parents in the line at the grocery store. Sometimes, their parents just don’t want to argue, so they allow their child’s impulse shopping. Some count their money or look at coupons with their children. Some talk to their children about their decisions to spend or save their money saying, “Since you saved your $5 today, you can buy something for $10 later, or you can continue to save for something great.” Keep in mind, I’m only listening to these conversations when I am at the store by myself because when I’m there with my children, I’m just trying to avoid being on the news.
No matter how you parent, your children will look to you for life lessons. My goal is to try to give them as much life before the lessons as possible.