Photo by Isabella Quintana on Pixabay
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is George Bailey's weekly report on he and his wife's efforts to teach their kids financial freedom.
Just this last week, my daughter ran in from across the street where she was playing with our neighbors' daughter and another friend. It seemed like she'd only been over there for a short time, so it made sense when she told me that she was heading right back with a few Barbie dolls in tow. Her declared purpose in picking up the Barbie dolls? She was off to do some trading.
My normal reaction to my children running out of the house with their toys is to tell them they aren't going anywhere. I can't stand to see kids lose or throw them away. Whenever we go somewhere and our children petition me to be able to take a toy with them, it's a big, fat no.
Honestly, I can't figure out why I care so passionately about what my children do with their own toys. My wife and I have hardly spent a dime on their toys because we've gotten most of them used. And it's not like I play with any of them ("Liar!" — Asclepius, the pet snake). In fact, the toy room is so cluttered with toys that I'm certain we'd be better off if we lost one or two.
But I'm stubborn. I want my kids to learn to care for and respect their own possessions. I tend to think that if my children treat their toys with as much respect as I treat my suits, they will grow up to be more decent human beings ("If eating a second bowl of ice cream is respectful to your suits, you're right on point! — my growing gut).
I really need to rethink my uptightness, at least in this narrow area of parenting. Children are toy destroyers. It's in their nature. And Barbies see some of the worst of it. The poor dolls can't seem to keep their clothes on, so Christina uses a black marker to at least keep them dressed in either underwear or a swimsuit. I want to believe that my children't playroom is not the only playroom cluttered with naked Barbie dolls.
Then there are the haircuts. I'll walk through the home now and then and find hair clippings. My first panicked instinct is to check each of my children's heads. I breathe a sigh of relief when I discover that the only butchered hairstyles belong to Barbie or one of her many best friends or alternate personalities. (Unfortunately, there are times when my worst fears are realized and we need to send one of the children off to the barber to have a professional complete what my children have started.)
I finally relaxed this last week. My daughter showed me the beat up and sorry excuse for a Barbie doll that she was intending to use to con one of her friends out of her own treasured toy. I'm relying on the other child's wits to make sure the con doesn't happen. In any case, as long as my daughter doesn't bully her way into a trade, I'm deciding to care less what the outcome is. Let's lose us some Barbies.