My tween daughters had their first real foray into consumerism (and the value of generosity) today.
Lakin received a $50 gift card to Toys R Us for her 10th birthday, and she’s been begging us to take her shopping. We’ve been so busy this week that it kept having to be put off, but we were determined to make it a priority today.
After a very productive morning of submitting job applications, printing out resumes and emailing staffing agencies and prospective employers for both of us, and a healthy lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and apple slices for the girls, and cucumber salads (from our garden!) for David and I, we headed out to the toy store.
On the way, Lakin decided that she would give her sister $10 of her gift card. Addah was thrilled and immediately began plotting what she could buy with her money. Visions of craft kits, barbie dolls and Playmobil sets were dancing through her head, and I realized that the child has no real concept of what $10 will buy. I decided to let her learn this lesson for herself.
Lakin was already planning on buying Pokemon cards and “possibly” a Nintendo DS game. This all changed when she walked through the doors of our local Toys R Us. Every item in the store was a potential “must-have” and she couldn’t settle on anything. She was impatient with the rest of us, selfishly (and angrily) wanting to look at only what she wanted to look at, charging from one end of the store to the other in search of that elusive perfect item.
Meanwhile, Addah was getting more and more sad and upset, as she realized that she couldn’t afford most of the things that she wanted. Chaos was beginning to take over. We ended up having to call an impromptu meeting to discuss the importance of not spending money on things that you won’t be able to play with for more than an hour, or that won’t hold your interest for more than a day.
In the end, Lakin’s selfishness gave way to incredible generosity. Addah wanted a bright girly basketball quite badly, but she could only afford a plain orange regulation ball for her $10. Out of the blue (and quite uncharacteristically), Lakin offered to pay for half of the more expensive ball, so that her sister would still have money to buy candy at the register.
She spent the rest of her money on exactly what she originally came in to buy: a new DS game, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, and Pokemon cards, one pack for herself, one pack for her sister. At the register, they each picked out a candy bar, and with only $3 left to spend, she insisted that she and Addah each get a bottled water.
It was really an amazing thing to watch. Lakin, who is usually so argumentative and downright selfish about her time and her things, gave willingly to her little sister, who, in turn, was very thankful and humbled by her sister’s gift.
Maybe these kids are listening to us after all, even when we are certain they aren’t hearing the lessons we teach.