Writer's Note: This was originally written some time in December, but I've been preoccupied with my other blogs to post here, so I'm finishing this and posting it.
Today Kulani and I experienced our first legitimate parenting discussion with our oldest. It was one of those experiences I remember from my past where Mom and Dad would want to speak with Brian or Doug (never Amy or Kathy) alone in their bedroom with the door shut, and we weren't allowed to snoop outside (though Mary knew how to conceal herself under the parent's bed when she could sense a good talkin'-to was about to go down).
Lilia received birthday money from her grandparent's and was saving her money for something special. She decided suddenly this week that now would be a good time to spend her money at Build-a-Bear Workshop. All total she had $18, $12 in birthday money and $6 in money she earned from doing chores. I told her that might be enough to buy a bear, but to not get her hopes up. She may have to settle for just clothes for her bear. I like to avoid Build-a-Bear at all costs, but last year, her kind uncles took the girls on an excursion there while we were at a Christmas party, and spoiled them with new bears and new outfits.
When we arrived at B-a-B, I was surprised to see they'd lowered their prices. She really wanted a Christmas moose, and it was on sale for $12. She'd have enough money to spare for an accessory, I told her. So she picked out a Christmas collar and two bows, as well as the moose.
Those people at Build-A-Bear are geniuses. They make it all so special for the child, allowing the child to pick out the stuffed animal's heart and warming it up by blowing on it. Even if you wanted to return a bear, there's no way you could. They take off the tags; they personalize it so well, that the child may think they're returning a loved family pet. Who would do such a thing?
Because I had other items to also purchase, I told Lilia that I would pay for it and she could pay me back. Mistake number 1. After I purchased the items, I turned to Lilia and asked her to give me her money. Her face displayed sadness. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she didn't want the moose if it would cost her all her money.
I would've taken the moose back right then if Build-a-Bear doesn't do everything possible to make you think you can't return it. I decided to consult with Kulani about how to best handle this situation. He suggested a meeting when we got home.
Upon arriving home, we shooed the other girls into the other room, and Kulani proceeded to explain to Lilia about money, work, and choices. How did she get to age 6 without us explaining Adam Smith and the invisible hand, voodoo or trickle-down economics, and the intricacies of supply verses demand? Kulani was FBLA president during high school, afterall. Whatever it was we were trying to teach Lilia, it didn't look as though it was sticking. She finally got it when Kulani said, "You can choose your moose, or you can choose the money, but if you choose the money, we are taking the moose to a little girl who will appreciate it, and you'll only be left with your money."
And I added: "Lilia, money means nothing if we can't enjoy it. We should save for things we want, as you did with your money."
Lilia looked at the money, and she looked at the moose. You could see that she had an emotional attachment to the actual money. She'd been saving it for some time. But something clicked and she chose the moose.
I wish she would have chose the money, and then we could have taken the moose to a little girl who didn't have as much as us. That would have been two lessons for the price of one.