Yesterday we went to watch our eight-year-old granddaughter, Anna, play basketball. She’s doing okay having learned court aggression tactics from her older brother. Sam and his buddy came along to watch and as I gazed down the row he seemed intent on the game before him. And then I noticed the money. He was flipping two dollars back and forth and I had one of those Boomer flashbacks, accompanied by head shaking, that pop up at odd times.
Two dollars when I was a girl was the equivalent of four hours of babysitting, 20 Hershey bars or, when I was a bit older, two lunches at the high school outdoor snack bar (the best burgers ever). Sam was probably thinking of a bag of Skittles and maybe a ring pop. Boy, how time and money have changed.
I never got an allowance. Dad could just about keep us in food and clothes (often hand-me-downs) and it never occurred to him that his kids might want a little jingle in their pockets. Well, maybe it did but he knew then as I know now that appreciation for money comes when you have to go out and get it yourself. Once, when I was about fourteen, I’d managed to save twenty dollars. I’d earned it babysitting, cleaning houses and ironing for a couple of neighbor ladies. I stashed my cash in an envelope in my dresser and counted it with great pleasure. Then Mom took me shopping.
Now, my mother had peculiar ideas about fashion and when she saw the plastic coat with the giant mother of pearl buttons she just knew I would love it. It was also lined with fake fur – really – I am not making this up. And, since my fashion sense wasn’t much better and she being so excited about it and all, I spent my hard earned money on the Thing. I’d also purchased a pair of shoes that were a kind of modified saddle shoe, very trendy, I thought. But the unyielding hard sole clacked on the tile floors of the middle school and that, along with my crunchy plastic coat, made for a cringe worthy memory. Clack, crunch, clack, crunch – must be Sue heading for her locker. Who needed a bully when you were so skilled at bringing great humiliation on all by yourself?
I’m sure Sam and Anna will come to appreciate money some day. And there will be many cringe worthy “moments of intense self awareness” to call their own. Like this past Saturday when Anna grabbed her brother’s shorts for her game, flew out of the house, and didn’t realize her error until it was way too late. She tucked her shirt into them so they’d stay up which gave her an odd pear shape. The crotch was at her knees but, God bless her, she played on. And yesterday in a moment of frenzy she attempted to make a basket for the other team. Yup, she did. Even the ref laughed.
Nobody gets by without a bit of humiliation in this life and we all make mistakes with our money. But it’s a blessing when we’re able to look back and laugh because we realize we’re all in the same leaky old boat called Life. All in all a very cool thing.
Image: bplanet Free Digital Photos