Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life lesson for 50 cents.

Last Saturday we had a garage sale at my house. I know, I know. Some of you die-hard Nitty. Gritty readers are sitting at your computers thinking, "Oh my goodness! I would LOVE to go to Nitty.Gritty's garage sale. I'll bet she has some really great Nitty.Gritty. junk". Maybe I could do an online sale next time. I've got enough stuff for at least another sale or two.
It was kind of a fun thing to have a garage sale at my house. I rarely stop at them myself- simply because I have 4 kids in tow and it's not worth the effort of unstrapping and restrapping them in their carseats. Besides, I already have enough stuff.
My mom and sister and niece, Aly were a big help with pulling this whole thing together. At one point when things were beginning to wind down, a family of four pulled up and started looking through our things. There were two young girls and a Mom and Dad. The older sister (I'm guessing she was about 8) picked up a small stuffed tiger and said she wanted to buy it. Her mom said she could as long as she used her money. So, she dug into her purse and found a couple of quarters. By that time, the younger sister (I'd say she was 4 or 5) held up a stuffed white poodle dog and said that's the one she wanted. She started snuggling it against her cheek and talking all cute to it. You know how kids get all gushy with cute toys. Her mom turned to her and said no, you're not getting it. The little girls lip started to quiver and her whole face changed.
Then she started asking really nicely..."Please, Mommy. This one is the only one I want. I don't have a white puppy like this...please Mommy." At that point, the sister turned around and said, "I'm getting this tiger with my own money."
Her mom agreed. Yep. She's using her own money, I guess she'll get one, but you can't.
Aly and I are looking back and forth at them and then each other. We thought the younger sister was gonna lose it. Instead, she walked back to the pile of toys and set the puppy down gently. Then she said softly that's the one she really wanted. If she had her own money. That's the only one she wanted.
The older sister walked over to us and handed us her quarters. She was obviously showing off her new tiger as she walked down the driveway back to the car. The little sister was crushed. I quietly said to the mom as she walked out that we had a box of free items down at the end of the driveway if the younger sister wanted to take a peek. Of course, nothing in the box was what she wanted , so they all got back into the car to leave.
As they pulled away from our sale, Aly and I started talking about what we had seen. I said, I'm gonna have to blog about this. Aly said, "You're gonna blog about some people at your garage sale?" We both agreed that the younger sister was doing everything she could to hold back her tears in front of us. She wasn't getting whiny or throwing a tantrum- she simply looked hurt. I said to Aly, "I don't get it."
Maybe I didn't get the whole story, but it doesn't seem like that little girl was doing anything wrong. She just wanted a stuffed puppy for 50 cents. I said to Aly, "That Mom just made her daughter sad for 50 cents. I'll bet she's gonna fuss and mope about that toy all day long. Do you realize that for two quarters, that Mom could have totally made her little girl's day? Maybe even a couple of days, or a whole week. I don't know how long, but she seemed like she would have gushed about that toy for awhile anyway. At least long enough to get her 50 cents worth. Instead, she probably gets to listen to her daughter whine and cry or pout the rest of the ride home, and probably into the evening...til it's making her a little bit crazy and she finally yells ot threatens her daughter to knock it off or she's gonna get grounded or something."
Yep. I knew I had to blog about it. Because similar things come up in all of our lives where we have control over how a situation or emotion plays itself out depending on how we choose to respond to it. Sometimes it's over something really insignificant- like a 50-cent stuffed toy. It determined a young girl's happiness (or lack of it) for a day or more. I wish I had just given the toy to the girl that day. I could have made her day and it would have cost me nothing at all. I regret that now- but I just couldn't read the Mom very well. I suppose the worst thing that could have happened is that I would have offended her a bit and she probably would have complained about me to her husband as they drove away.
Anyway, for 50 cents that didn't get spent that day, I got a real-life lesson for all of us to remember from time to time. If we put ourselves in someone else's shoes for a moment and think about how are actions might affect them, maybe it would change our behavior at times. I'm sure there are people we don't always treat the kindest, or think of them first, or even feel like loving at times, and yet our actions can create goodness and self-esteem and love in others. In our families of course, but it could be neighbors, friends or even strangers.
I wish I had known the woman who killed Teagan {and Peggy} before she did what she did. I wish I could have told her that her life had worth and mattered to God. I wonder if she would have thought about her actions if she knew someone actually cared about them. I know I can't change a thing about it at this point in my life.
But for 50 cents, maybe we all can make a difference from time to time in someone else's life. I guess there were a few good Nitty.Gritty. deals at my garage sale afterall.


Valerie said...

i don't get some parents either. things like this just break my heart, and every now & then, it happens even in my own family. that's when SuperAuntie springs into action & comes through.

yes. it's true. i'll buy their love.

MommyOutOfControl said...

That story breaks my heart...I am not one to deny my son the little pleasures, and often don't understand others who do. Fifty cents is so worth the joy it would have put on her face! So sad.

annette said...

Your story is seen every day ...parents too busy to be a 'parent'...little ones needs are all to often pushed aside for the parents need to be 'in charge'....I agree with all of you that fifty cents could have put a smile on that little ones face but even in the larger picture all that it teaches them. The only way a little child can learn is through example and our world has a huge number of children learning about life through these sort of things.

We adults must decide to love our little ones enough to 'look beyond the 50cents' and see the childs heart.

Reen said...

Well, they might have stopped at 10 other garage sales before yours and she already had 10 other toys in the car, we'll never know! I think I would have given it to her and said "get bent" to the Mom! LOL! I love to make kids happy :)


Julie said...

I think you did the right thing, Jody. You never know maybe she had aleady spent her money, maybe she was in trouble for something. I very often tell my kids "No" to the little things like that, because the already have 100's of stuffed animals at home. We do so many things with our kids take them places and so on. I mean I know that my six year has already done more things and been more places than I did the whole time I was growing-up. We try to put the emphasis on being together not on things.

On the other from the way you described the situation, I would say the mother sounded a little harsh. And I would never have let the sibling flaunt what she was getting in front of her sister. In fact that probably would have made say no to the older sister too!

Kellie said...

Totally agree with you on this one.

One parenting book I've read suggest really thinking about why we say NO to our kids. Much of the time, the answer *could* be yes. The author believes that No's are taken much better when there are plenty of Yesses to balance them. He also suggests we look at the reasons we have for saying no. A lot of times, it's not a good one. Many times, it's about control or selfishness.

On this same subject, recently Dr.Phil said that the single most important quality in a parent-child relationship is empathy. I believe I agree. A parent who is unable or unwilling to put themselves in their child's shoes is probably not a very good one.

It's really sad that so many children are stuck with that kind. :(

dede said...

i know i am probably in the minority, but i say give a mom the bennifit of the doubt (sp?). we have two girls two years apart. one would eat, the other got attention for not eating. when i picked up on this. it took one time, and a very hard one for me. to say to them both they could have dessert as we ate out if they ate their dinner. the eatter ate, the other didn't. the eatter got the dessert of her choice , while the non-eater watched without any. i did this not out of cruelty, i did it out of concern for the non-eater. who knows how her food issues may have resolved themselves without intervention. but i can tell you from that point, she was proud to show how she had eatten. these are hard lessons for us all, as watchers absolutley! as parents, even harder. you cast the first stone, i will not. i honor mothers who do their best, regardless of what it looks like to others.

shawnna said...

Sounds like one HECK of a garage sale if you ask ME -- thanks for sharing --


Knit and Purl Grrl said...

I have a different take. I get SO tired of my kids asking for every little thing... and I tell them ENOUGH is ENOUGH. I get sick of the idea that every time we go someplace, they HAVE to buy something. So I tell them, no, you cannot have anything else unless you buy it with YOUR money.

And sometimes one buys a slurpee and the other saves it for the store (or the garage sale). I can't then turn around and give the one who spent her $ on the slurpee MORE money because then the first kid says, "Hey, what about me? I wanted a slurpee but I SAVED my money, and now you're giving HER MORE money? That's not fair!" So it's hard to know what went on before they got to your house.

I have to say, I agree with Reen. If I'd seen this at my garage sale, I would have given her the toy. After all, I don't want that junk sitting around after the sale is over! ;)


Jolene said...

From my point of view and having 4 kids on a tight budget, giving into one of them would have meant giving into all of them. I have to be careful not to give into every little thing that my children want, otherwise I would be in debt way over my head. They get mad and upset, but usually by the time we are home they are over it and playing with one of their many toys that they already own.
On another note, if I had the money to be able to do that for my kids, I would. I want to be able to give them what they want, but unfortunately I can't always do that.