Thursday, December 17, 2009

Making Change

I've been thinking about it. The reaction to Monday's post, that is.

Reactions were mixed. I, of course, was the most unforgiving - proclaiming all high school graduates should be able to add and subtract, even when feeling pressure from a long line of holiday shoppers. At the other end of the spectrum were generous readers, filled with grace, and happy to give Ms. Borders the benefit of the doubt.

Some highly evolved person could probably reconcile the whole thing. But, me? I'm just curmudgeon - intent on not lowering the bar, just so no one has to feel bad.

Then on Tuesday something happened. I got insight.

Richard and I walked around the block with Matthew, in order to make good on an agreement we made with him a few weeks back.

Matthew is an entrepreneur in the making - a mini Warren Buffet, if you know what I mean. It started about a year and a half ago with a lemonade stand. Then it was $1.00 an hour for helping grandma clean her pool. After that it was a bake sale, then selling blown up latex balloons, and then dog treats. He's even taken to roaming our house with a brown bag, picking up unused toys and chatcka hoping to set up his own garage sale... or variety store, as the case may be.
This month it was pine cones. Grandma New York came to visit and showed him how, by adding glitter and a silver cord, pine cones could be turned into beautiful, environmentally green ornaments that catch light. Matthew and Grandma made a batch and immediately he was intent on selling them.

Richard and I put it off as long as we could. Both of us are self conscious and neither of us was too excited about standing along side Matthew as he knocked on doors selling his wares.

Kids have a funny way of getting us outside our comfort zones.
Matthew barreled up to neighbors doors - fearlessly! "Want to buy a pine cone?" he said. "Fifty cents or you can give me more." Embarrassed at his suggestion the pine cones could be worth more than fifty cents, I quickly qualified... "No, Matthew. The going rate is $0.50 and if you buy the little ones, we'll give you two for fifty cents."

He was upset with me and made it perfectly clear. "Stop it mom. What happens if they want to pay me more? Stop telling people the pine cones are only fifty cents!."

And, he sold to everyone and anyone who would listen. Gardeners busily working along side the road; teenage boys, who clearly could care less, but were caught walking toward their tricked out trucks; little kids playing ball in the culdesac; business men working from home; stay at home moms; and the list went on. There was no one Matthew wouldn't ask and it never occurred to him to be nervous, self conscious, or that anyone should be anything short of thrilled to buy one of his priceless pine cones.

Matthew was fearless in a way that Ms. Border's was not.

When did Ms. Borders, like the rest of us, stop being fearless and start being fearful? When did the change happen and why? Was she seven, ten, twelve, eighteen, twenty? At what point along the way did we go from being fearless like Matthew to being too fearful to make change?

I don't know when fear set in for Ms. Borders (or to me for that matter), but I don't like it.

Matthew made $22.52 cents on Tuesday doing it his way. Left up to me and my more timid approach he would only have made $8.50. You don't even have to do the math to know Matthew had the right idea. But... I know you will...
Signing off until tomorrow...


Heather @ said...

I feel lucky to have gotten my pine cone before he sold out!

Danko Family said...

If a little boy showed up at my house with a box of ornaments around his neck, I would have bought a few. I love his tenacity! He's definitely going to make it BIG one day.

Cristine said...

I would have bought one. He was wearing a green and yellow football shirt. It's mandatory. I wish I could have seen you and Richard following him around.

Kids always amaze me. Yesterday the boys got to meet a local hockey player at the library. Matthew, who is normally shy, was the first person to raise his hand to ask a question. Definitely beyond his normal comfort zone, but he was so excited to meet the guy he couldn't wait. Then William won one of the prizes and jumped right up and stood in front of all the teenagers proud as can be.
All of this made up for the upsetting part of the morning - William flushed his favorite pair of Scooby Doo underwear down the toilet (accidentally). So after a morning of tears, they had a great end to the day. (on a side note - no plumbing problems from the flushing)

I'm off to made gingerbread houses with William's preschool class today. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well.

BeeKayRoot said...

Your little boy is a genious!

Robin said...

Very good points about us holding the kids back.

Peggy said...

In our house fear started at 14 for Bubba....he is now 16-1/2.

3 things recently he couldn't do.... put change in the Salvation Army bucket, call to place a take out dinner order, go to the school office to find out about getting on the list for a parking permit.

Teachers and neighbors love my kid, his report card 'shines' with comments about his participation in class.... but ask him to go put change in a bucket and he freezes up thinking we asked him to put a hit on the little man singing jingle bells!

I love how this topic got turned around!

Adorable kid don't seem self conscious.

Cheryl said...

I love Matthew.

I was never fearless. I was S-H-Y from the get-go. If anything, for me, it's been a turn around the other direction. Learning how to overcome the shyness and not feel completely stupid when I make mistakes.

As for my boys, neither of them are as fearless as Matthew. Matthew truly has something special in his outgoing personality. :) I hope he never loses it.

Jessie Freeman said...

Maybe you should sign him up for junior apprentice! I would have bought from him too had he showed up at my door!

Katie @ Highlowaha said...

I also love how fearless Matthew is- asks for exactly what he wants when he wants it. He's also a great negotiator. I hope he never loses those qualities.

I think my fear of the phone (much like Peggy's son) started in late middle school. I still find myself fearful of the phone at times now.

I think that with you and Richard as parents, that will help Matthew to maintain these qualities and not fall into fear. I know you will continue encouraging him to be fearless, and I think that "parental" push will help him. I remember there were times that my mom wouldn't let me back down from something (order for myself, making a phone call, etc.). Her proving to me that I was able to do it made it less scary.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

I don't know that I was ever fearless. I've gotten that way to a certain extent, but it takes a lot out of me and I have to recharge. You know that saying "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes" - mine is shaking the whole time, and always has. I believe that some of us are met by people who insist that we not speak or sell them pinecones, and it's hard to silence those voices once they get into our heads.