on luxury gifts (like cars)...

>> Friday, May 1, 2009

I almost wrote this in with yesterday's post. But it kinda conflicted with my goal of one subject per post. So here goes...

In addition to the parenting value of expecting our kids to work for their own college education, we don't believe in giving kids luxury items either.

Like, say, cars.

"Happy birthday sweetheart. Your mom and I are celebrating the fact that you suck air on this planet by giving you a very big, expensive and potentially deadly luxury item all for yourself. Here's the keys, why don't you take your equally mature teenage friends out for a spin!"

Yeah, right!

When I was about 15, my friends in academy starting talking about the cars their parents would buy for their 16th birthdays. So the next time I was home, I asked my dad very nicely if I could please have a car for my next birthday too. He just looked up at me, and chuckled to himself as if to say, "You're such a cute little moron."

Which I didn't think was very nice.

"Honey," dad said, "as soon as you have enough money to buy a car, keep the tank full, pay car insurance, and keep a little fund stashed away for the inevitable maintenance - YOU CAN HAVE A CAR! I don't even care if you're not 16 yet. If you can afford it, you can have it. And not a minute sooner."

To be honest, I'd kind of expected that answer anyway. I have such a wise daddy.

I didn't get a car until I was 18, and starting my sophomore year of college. I worked all summer, saved like a fiend and went car shopping with dad - to the garage of an elderly church widow.

My first "car" was a tan 1986 Mazda B2000 pick-up truck, 5-speed, no power steering, and 2/75 air conditioning. (That equals 2 windows down at 75 miles an hour.) Dad taught me how to change my own oil and tires, check the radiator, and top up the fluids, "cause I'm not going to be there to fix it for you, and you'd better not have a boyfriend yet!"

He also built a plywood camper shell (yup, it was exactly as pretty as it sounds), to fit the truckbed. I may have looked like the Clampett's coming to town, but everything I owned could go inside and stay relatively dry on my rather frequent cross-country road trips.

That little truck lasted me 4 years and 85,000 miles. I sold it just before we got married, 'cause we needed the money. And I cried.

I'd learned that nothing in life comes free, and the things you work hardest for are what you value the most. We really want our kids to learn that same precious lesson - because it shapes character - and because nothing in life is free except salvation, no matter how old you are.

So in a decade and a half, when our little one hints slyly about mummy and daddy's plans for a 16th birthday present, our answer is probably going to sound something like:

"Sweetheart, a car is a luxury. And you are definitely going to get one, just as soon as you can afford it yourself."

1 comments:

Anonymous,  May 1, 2009 at 1:53 PM  

It appears we have more in common then I first thought. I sold my truck when I was pregnant with Levi and cried. There is nothing like working for your belongings! Raini

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