So this story starts off with this:
Scout – “Mom, guess where the Ambassador field trip is going to be this year?”
Me – “No idea.”
Scout – “Universal Studios!!” (with the utmost excitement)
Me – “Wow. How much is THAT going to cost?”
Enter in the information of the cost. Which to me sounded like a whole warehouse full of styrofoam cups rubbing up against each other…or the styrofoam packing that fragile items are packed in…because THOSE are the absolute WORST sounds to me E.V.E.R!
Scout – “probably around $750.”
Me – “forrrrrrrr….just you?”
Scout – “yeah something like that…but I’ve earned it because I was elected an Ambassador by the teachers!!” (like this was EVER gonna work in his favor. bless)
Me – “well, talk to your daddy about it.”
A “hey dad, can I go to Universal Studios?” and a “how much is it gonna cost?” mixed with a “$750 for just me” later…we have the meat of our story.
Dad – “So, $1500 for you and your mother to go to Universal Studios for a school field trip?!”
Scout – “Yes sir.”
Dad – “Well, if you want to go, then you are going to have to earn the money to pay for it.”
Scout – “well that won’t be so bad. I can just ask people for money.”
Dad – “Um, no. No no ya won’t. You are going to WORK to earn the money.”
Scout – “it shouldn’t be that hard.”
Dad – “You think $1500 is easy to earn?”
**wait for it**
Scout – “W.H.A.T??? I gotta pay for mom’s TOO?!”
Here’s the first set of info we received about this trip…
And so began the tough, but much needed, life lesson 101 for our little and precious 12 year old son Scout Bragwell…”IF you WANT something, you are going to have to work for it!”
See, we have always talked to and trained our children to understand that we as their parents are responsible for their needs: food, warmth, clothes, safety, protection, guidance, wisdom, love. However when it comes to their “wants” we have limited the amount of giving we do for those “wants.” When they were smaller, maybe 5/6ish, and they would want something from Walmart -a ball for Scout usually and a doll of some sort for Autumn- I would give them the opportunity to earn the money for the want. Like, “I need those weeds pulled out of the flower bed in the front yard…if you do that I will give you $5.” And “the furniture in the living room needs dusted so if you’ll do that I’ll give you $10” now..let me interject here that our children have chores that they do NOT get paid for…they have always been responsible for picking up after themselves, cleaning their rooms, started washing their own clothes at 10, they clean up the kitchen after I have cooked, Scout is responsible for taking out all the garbage and getting the big can to the road every Thursday, Autumn keeps their bathroom upstairs clean, these are just known jobs that they get “paid” for by being allowed to live in a warm safe house. But when it comes to things that I don’t necessarily want to do, I am willing to pay them to do and therefore…they have earned the money to buy whatever little insignificant thing they want. And there have been times that we have bought them things “just because” they are phenomenal kids and we want to reward them. But when it comes to the training of “if you want something you have to work for it,” we have been Hitlers. And criticized. And praised. And thanked. And hated. Yet the emotions/opinions that our training produces are NOT the reasons we do what we do. We firmly believe in training our children for the realities of life, the harshness that it can bring, and the responsibility it takes to be/have something worth while.
It’s not liked.
BUT IT IS for their good. And they know this, whether they like it or not is really not a factor. Lol
So. TJ begins explaining to Scout about the opportunities for him to work and earn money:
*An aunt had had a load of dirt dumped in her front yard that needed spreading. She also needed some trees trimmed, limbs picked up, rocks moved, etc. just some yard work mainly. She was made aware that Scout was looking for work to make money to go on this trip so she hired him. She talked with him about how much she would pay per hour per job and they agreed on the terms. So for a couple of days, he would spend time out there–after school and on a Saturday or two–working for her. She paid him. This was his first earned money for his trip and even though he had sweat and worked extremely hard at less than minimum wage, he was so proud to have that payment. It was his. He earned it. He WITNESSED the principle and learned the lesson. This was different than the $5 weed removal…the seed was planted as a child and when he became a young man…the sprouting had occurred.
*TJ sat him down and showed him how to create a spreadsheet –this is SO TJ BRAGWELL right here btw– and record every dime he brought in and every dime that went out. He wanted him to be able to see the link between income and expense to be able to register in his mind “I have this much and have spent this much.” This was genius. Just genius. I hate it wasn’t the mom idea. #failed
*Deposit deadlines started coming in…and he was ever proud, and ever like “aw man, I gotta spend this money?” at the same time. But with each deadline, came the opportunity for him to pay that deposit/expense on his own. Here’s the first deposit he made:
So proud. Not very liked, but I was so proud. Mind you…he’s a 12 year old BOY and responsibility and accountability do NOT come pre-installed in them. It is NOT even as easy as “insert here.” The training that MUST be involved in installing these qualities in them is straining on the mind…it pulls on the heart strings of moms because we want to just love the crap out of them and baby them and let them run to us and hold them and make it all better when mean ole daddy tries to teach them something good. Right? Ya’ll know that is true moms. But ladies let me tell you all something…and listen as rationale Christian women and NOT precious big puppy dog eyes sweetest little boy EVER’s mother…THESE LESSONS HAVE GOT TO BE TAUGHT AND LEARNED!!! Daddy’s have got to be fixed on training the minds of their sons for these types of life character molding traits. It is CRUCIAL for preparing them for the kingdom…for the work they must do, for the leadership they are called on to have, for becoming the “true man” God designed them to be. If your son is allowed to have everything, get everything, want everything and have it given on a silver platter with side dishes of compliments and showering of mushy kisses and “come here baby let’s get away from that mean ole daddy!”‘s…this will be the demise of him. He must be trained to think, act, work, behave, be responsible and accountable like the man God intends for him to be when he is grown. It will not happen magically…it will not “just happen”…he will not go from a sheltered protected babied boy child to a responsible mature spiritual leader man simply by accident. And mommies…I KNOW we want our sons to become men of God, obedient souls, leaders for His kingdom, a spiritual head for his wife and children, a mature and knowledgeable teacher of God’s word, a financial provider who is selfless and giving for his family and neighbors…and it is IMPERATIVE that he be TRAINED in THIS WAY. If he is trained to be spoiled and lazy and self gratified and babied—what do you think the result will be when he is 25? 35? 50? The “train up a child” command is given for this purpose. If our children are trained to be obedient, responsible, accountable, lovers of God…then that is exactly how they will be when they are old. If we train them to be selfish by always making everything about them being happy and satisfied, and never holding them accountable for choices/actions, and protecting them for consequences…then THAT is exactly how they will be when they are old. The will not depart from how they are trained. They CAN overcome the lack of training, but the implanted character will always be things they must overcome which makes their “job” as a Christian somewhat burdensome. That just is not fair to them. At all. They deserve to be taught truth, and love, and all things God charactered.
Ok so here was another way Scout was given the opportunity to earn money:
*he would make cutting boards and butcher blocks and sell them. TJ taught and trained in the process of how to make these and I advertised for him on Facebook and the orders started rolling in…
They are beautiful. And made from precious hands that had a purpose and a focus and an aim. The first one ordered was by one of our most precious friends and her words when Scout finished hers and brought it to her at school…”Well I can’t cut on this, its TOO beautiful!” So she is using it as decoration in her kitchen. Lol
He also was allotted the privilege of fundraising. And again the avenue of Facebook and group texting was used and with each set of sheets sold he would earn $15 profit towards his trip balance.
14 sets were sold and $210 was put towards his balance. I did not ever buy a set. #badmother lol
And here is a bonus~~~he was allowed to spend his earned money however he wanted. He was told up front “if you’re trip is not paid for by the deadline…you will not go.” so he knew that the trip was/well should be/ his priority. But yet -as with the life of a child- a side track came into play. He wanted a guinea pig. So he chose to take $130 of his own money ~without the trip being paid for mind you~ and buy the rat (as I call her), her cage, her travel bag, hay, food, watering tube, and food bowl. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS THAT HE HAD WORKED AND SLAVED TO EARN and THIS was what he chose to do with that money…but hey, we choose to spend our money the largest package of Dish so that I can watch every sporting event on every channel possible so in reality we make stupid choices too. BUT…he did the very smart thing in continuing to work to earn more money to finish paying for his goal. It was good for his to be allowed to choose what to do with his money once he had earned it. A “side reward” of sorts. Here is that pic…for your viewing pleasure:
“FuFu” is in the carry-on. #forthelove to quote J Hatmaker.
And so comes the end of this story…the work is done, the boards are all made, the sheets are ordered and delivered (well most of them anyway lol) and the deposits/payments are all recorded and so he was given the total remaining balance on his account. After the decision to drive was made ~to save him money~ AND because our BFF family is going as well and we as moms just could NOT pass up the opportunity to carry our children on a 12 hour road trip…here was what my young and precious man owed:
READ THAT LINE…”paid in full” (and the chorus sings “hallelujah!”
I cannot even fully express in the right and deep enough semantics how utterly PROUD I am of this young man. And how humbled I am that his dad saw the opportunity and took it to teach and train in the thinking and action of “I want” should mean “I will work.” And how thankful I am for the seed being planted in his heart to be receptive and obedient to the training. And how much more in love I fell with his dad for being the man Scout needs him to be in his life. And how in awe I am that TJ continues to strive to be the man his God desires/commands/expects him to be for His kingdom and his family and his neighbors…because ultimately what TJ is doing is training a worker in His kingdom, a teacher of His word, a husband, a father, an employee, a brother, a neighbor…and seeing that “bigger picture” in his decision to train Scout when it came to wanting to go to Universal Studios is just awesome. And Scout being willing to receive it AND accomplish his goal is just awesome.
I HAD to share.
I HAD to write.
It is having these moments~~these lessons~~these wins~~these accomplishments in our parenting (lives in general) that we as sisters in Christ should be willing to share with one another. Even our failures can be lessons learned by someone else. It is my absolute pleasure in being a woman who takes what God has allowed in her life and voicing that with you so that you can contemplate, think, discuss, simply have the opportunity to know that wins in parenting ARE completely achievable.
Go Scout. #fistbump