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...