My sweet daughter, Caleigh, is six years old and learning an important lesson in patience. For three months she has been saving her pennies (yup, still finding those in nooks and crannies of our home), nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies. She counted them religiously. Adding them up, over and over, which in itself is a great lesson for someone in grade one. She was waiting to get to the magical number of 31. $31.00 would buy her the newest addition to her video game collection, Mr. Pencil. She had been eyeing it since her last addition of “Tangled” in February.
Caleigh was saving up money from gifts, doing chores around the house, and “found money” on the streets, in between the couch cushions, and on the floor of the laundry room (I even caught her checking the drum of the washing machine one day!). Well, two weeks ago, three months of saving and counting paid off as she reached a savings of $31.
Of course, this all happened on a Tuesday of a busy week. A busy enough week that a trip to WalMart or EB Games or Chapters was not going to happen. So she kept counting it, to double and triple check, and asked each day if we could go to buy her game.
Last Sunday was the day. We had a big shopping day, heading to Newmarket to hit up a few of the stores that Barrie lacks. I promised her that we would go to EB Games, where apparently the games are a smidgen cheaper. “You mean, I would get money back?” she asked, not quite understanding that she didn’t have to give the entire $31 if it was only $28…she was just focused on getting change to put towards her next game acquisition.
First was a trip to Target (seriously, love that store). We wandered the aisles picking up some pillows, a piece of wall art, some curtains, and this really fun blue chair that now graces my living room. Halfway down one aisle, Caleigh spotted the video game section. She raced over to see if Mr. Pencil was there. It wasn’t. But, a different game was. Similar to Mr. Pencil but not quite what she wanted. I could see the wheels turning.
“Mom? Can I get this game instead?”
Life lesson moment. I asked her why she wanted this game. “Because I can buy it now.” Any other reason? “It looks like fun.” Okay. Caleigh, you’ve been saving for a long time to buy Mr. Pencil, right? “Yes.” Why do you want to buy Mr. Pencil? “Because it’s the coolest game and I can draw with it, learn to spell, and learn math.” So, do you think that if you buy this game, you will be happy? And if you do buy this game, do you understand that if we see Mr. Pencil somewhere else today, you can’t buy it because you’ve bought this one?
The game went back on the shelf.
On to Homesense. Which I knew wouldn’t have Mr. Pencil or any video game for that matter, but still she looked.
Finally, after lunch and on our way out of Newmarket, we stopped at EB Games. Caleigh and I went into the store to check. A very small display of games for Leapster Products was in the back. My heart sank. It didn’t look good for finding Mr. Pencil. We checked and re-checked. There were lots of games that looked like fun and we had the discussion again about whether or not she would prefer to spend her money on another game. Whether or not she would be disappointed if she had to wait another three months to save up money for the game she really wanted. Whether, in a sense, that the opportunity was really worth more than the value.
We turned around to leave and I was met with a squeal. A squeal that, while I didn’t see it at first, immediately told me she had found a Mr. Pencil game. It was hidden behind three others.
Up to the counter we went. With a $24.99 price tag and 13% tax, the final total was $28.24. The young man behind the counter was incredibly sweet and waited while she counted out her toonies, then loonies, then quarters, then dimes, nickels, and pennies. She forked it all over and then he recounted and gave her back $2.76.
“Mama! I got the game AND more money!” (We will leave that lesson for another day).
I’m so proud of her. She worked. She saved. She waited. She overcome the immediate gratification to spend her money on a lesser reward (the opportunity) and waited for the bigger gain (the value).
How often do you choose opportunity over value?
Worth every one of her hard-earned pennies.