Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Torters

Little fingers measure the width of the silver circles, naming them torter, nickle, dym, placing them gently in their respective piles. Lips screw in concentration under the glare of his eyes tallying his bounty.

Is it enuf dad?

Fresh clipped limbs, thin and green, adorned in sprouting leaves surround the base of the bushes around my parents house. Scratches create plaid designs across the back of my hands, another load pushed into the wheel barrow, ready to cart around to the burn pile. Back and forth, the vision of the Starlog magazine featuring Star Wars getting smaller and smaller in my eight year old mind, with each clomp of the sheers and avalanche of limbs that would need to be removed in order to earn it. Overwhelming tears pull from their containment in my eyes as I drop my load and run to bury my head in the couch.

Is it enuf dad?

For me it was $1.75 magazine. For Cole it was an $8 used video game.

There used to be a day when people would barely need an excuse to run the hard plastic card through the little machine and paying enough interest to buy the same merchandise twice over. Maybe one good thing about the recession is it seems to have slowed everyone down to think about how we spend our money.

Our first year of marriage, we were drowning in debt, fighting to keep afloat by climbing on top of each other. Standing in line, staring at the brown curling linoleum tiles, with my stereo in one hand and my golf clubs in the other and hoping they were going to give me enuf to pay the light bill, cured me of ever wanting to be there again. This is what I hope my boys learn without ever having to be there, as they save their torters.

Cole's smile could have lit the strip in Vegas today as he counted out the torters in front of the lady behind the cash register. Seeing him be diligent in saving, avoiding temptation and finally reach his goal, mine could have powered a small nation.

36 comments:

An Open Heart said...

"Torters" I love that! Hey, thanks for stopping by and sending me good wishes.....


S

Wings said...

It is a definite bonus of all of this crap. A time to refocus and rethink how we act and spend. Been there, too, and never want to be there again.

Great piece.

willow said...

Loved this story about the torters.

Ronda Laveen said...

Yes, it finally was enuf, huh? It is such a hard but valuable lesson to learn. Some of us get to learn it when we are young, others have to be older, still others, like Bernie Madoff, sit in prison to learn it.

Brian Miller said...

open heart - glad you are back on your feet...some fun over at bonnies as well...

wings - yeah, once your eyes are open...never want to go back.

willow - smiles.

ronda - got ur email. drop you a line tomorrow. definitely trying to stay out of prison these days...

Hit 40 said...

Credit has gotten way to easy... mcdonalds, the grocery store, our doctors, and even the church take plastic. Just not good!!

blueviolet said...

You did a wonderful thing instilling him with the gift of money appreciation. I never received that gift myself and I paid for it later.

Baino said...

You do well to make him earn his money. I did the same with my kids. Worked with one but not so much the other. It's a start but we still get swept away with credit. Like you I'm learning the hard way! It is nice though, to see a child gleeful with small gifts. Some wouldn't be satisfied with just a video game. They'd want the latest XBox too!

Maggie May said...

It is best to let children save up for something special because they do think money grows on trees sometimes.
I can remember when I used to say to my son *I 'm sorry, I can't afford to buy that just now* and his reply was *Well go to the bank!*

subtorp77 said...

I save all my torters, nickles and dyms and pennies! Cutting back is tough to do but is warranted, yes!

Cinnamon said...

You're teaching them valuable lessons Brian. Money is such a difficult concept for young minds to understand. We did this with our boys when they were young, but I realise now the lesson needs to continue and be progressive to take in the complexities of life. Also one of my boys failed to tell me about a school trip because of his fear that we didn't have 'enuf'. I realised I had been projecting my anxieties about money onto him!
Keep up the good work- both your smiles light up my day!

Ocean Girl said...

I googled 'torters' and you came up second after some 'torters lick chops'.

Valerie said...

Subtle lessons, learned early, are easier to deal with later on. You do well by your boys, Brian.

Eternally Distracted said...

I LOVE your posts, love, love, love em!

Goofball said...

I think good parenting teaches children the value of money. Very good that Cole gets to save and decide what to buy with it (learning that choosing for something, excludes getting something else with the same budget).

I once went to the fair as a kid with a neighbour girl and came home not having spent anything. "that money is for my house I am going to buy when I'm big...that costs a lot of money so have to start saving" :D
quite Belgian though: we all want to be homeowners (it's said about us that we're born with a brick in our stomac) and we have the second highest saving quotients in the world after Japan. Hehe we sit on our money :p ....maybe we should trade some of our attitude with the rest of the world: let other countries do some more saving and we could spend a bit more to boost our own economy. It'd help the global economy a lot :D

only a movie said...

I read somewhere that one of the best indicators for success in life is the ability to delay gratification... So many people need to learn this. :-) Great post.

Protege said...

I remember the times from childhood, when my parents struggled financially. Oddly enough, they were the happiest times of my life.
Sometimes the best in life is indeed free.
;)

Barry said...

Beautiful and touching story.

Now excuse me, I have to go count my torters.

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Very nice - "torters". Want vs. need is a hard lesson to learn and to teach. I still have to remind myself and my family members on occasion that money does not grow on trees and torters do not magically appear from the sky.

Alix said...

Torters!

Thowe wuvwy.

Betsy said...

So cute...and great lessons learned. I remember Taylor at that age saying, "If you don't have enough money, just write a check!" ha-ha.

Jill said...

A precious and valuable lesson learned thanks to parents that care for him TO LEARN!!

Torters...I hope THAT stays around awhile.

Brian Miller said...

Hit40, at one point in life I worked in the credit industry...and you are exactly right. scary the situations that people get themselves into when they live beyond their means. for the longest time it seemed if you wanted it, you needed it right now and could always pay for it later. having that behind the scenes look was pretty scary...credit is something you want to be very careful with.

blueviolet, i think many of us dont have the appreciation at some point in our lives.

baino, a lot of the kids i work with have been given things all their life. when all of a sudden it cant or we make changes so it will not, they really struggle. if they take that mindset though into adulthood, it just gets worse.

maggie may, that is scary in and of itself. my boys have said to go by the ATM and have had to have similar conversations.

subs, aint that the truth. i have my little dish as well i drop mine into, though i think little hands swipe a few here or there. we give them $1 each week for doing their chores, not much but it gives them something to learn with.

cinnamon, yeahoneof my boys told me the other day we did not have the money...it hurt a bit. there are definitely times i am tempted and areminder is always good no matter the age.

ocean girl, lol.

valerie, too true.

eternally, ty. smiles.

goofball, yeah there were a few times we had to remind him of the goal and let him choose.delayed gratification is a hard lesson at any age. intriguing about your heritage and their thoughts on money.

only, i imagine so because very little in life is instantaneous. wether it is weight loss, purchasing, performance...

protege, you can make the most or the least of those times. when we used to have a lot of money, i often wonder where it went. now that we have little i know where it goes and usually we dont miss it. it forces you to be creative. which is not a bad thing at all.

barry, thanks for dropping in. have fun counting those torters, lol.

travel, it sure would be nice if it did. i remember as a kid picking leaves off a certain tree that we used for money as we played. funny.

alix, lol.

betsy, one of the kids i work with got his first job and so i helped him open his checking account. i was surprised how little he knew. i wonder if they atill teach that in school?

jill, there are a few sounds Cole struggles with and he usually replaces them with t's. its cute, though i do hope he grows out of it at some point. lol.

Skip Simpson said...

I'm reminded of that George Carlin routine about how we collect "stuff." I used to collect lots of "stuff." Then I lost all that "stuff." Now I don't want, or need all that "stuff" ever again!

Shadow said...

maybe we'll still manage to create a growing youth of being penny wise... great story!

The Clever Pup said...

My son used to say ibelly for library and hostipull for hospital. Priceless!!

tony said...

A Good Lesson And Result!

Daniel said...

Such a sweet post. Saving and keeping focussed are things that I try to impart to my little one. I am not always successful as the next shiny thing catches her eye and her mind!

Dot-Com said...

Is it ever enuf? :-)

You have been nominated for a Kreative Blogger Award! It's waiting on my blog for you:)

~Thought's By Dena~ said...

Just wanted to say hello!!! I love this post....besides it being so darn cute...it has something to think about behind it.

otin said...

It has become a different way of life, but it seems like it is still not as bad as the early 70's were!

The Things We Carried said...

I agree, I think our children are richer when they do not have instant gratification. So are we!

Kay said...

Good to learn the difference between want and need, frugality or over-spend, but one lesson I feel we all learn on our own at the college stage most

The Retired One said...

How wonderful that you teach your boys about the value of hard work and truly earning money.
He not only learned what it took to buy what he wanted, but a lifelong lesson of work ethic.
Great job Brian..you are not only a talented writer but a great Dad.

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a great lesson you are teaching your sons. It will serve him well through his entire life. Someday you'll be doing the same thing with your grandkids :-)

Goofball said...

@brian: yes when I read the other comments about the ease of credit, the number of people that need to learn the other way....you definitely live in a different world than mine. Of course there's exceptions & there's financially struggling people in Belgium, but many Belgians use loans solely for house & car purchases and we don't accumulate credit cards. I've learned from my parents that you need to be able to put x % of your pay check aside on a savings account ...if not you're not doing well.

It's a mindset that gives you peace in your mind :)