Yesterday, the boys rode to the 7-11 for the first time, alone, with $9 in hand. The store isn't that far away. It's just outside our small neighborhood, the first store on the corner of a busy street. It has a lot of traffic. I sent the boys off, Bear now comfortable enough to ride his bike outside the neighborhood - the incentive of a slushy helped - after the unfortunate incident two years ago where his bike fell on him, and, as he explained to his young friend the other day, 'my nuts hurt for three days.' Nuts. My ten year old said nuts.
But this isn't about his saying nuts. In fact, two years ago, the bike did flip over and land on his… groin… and cause considerable pain. Looking back, perhaps it would have been nice if I insisted he ice with some frozen vegetables, but I didn't realize how MUCH his… groin hurt…he seemed okay after with the exception of the two-year-long fear of bikes… I hope he'll still be able to have children…
The 7-11. The corner store. The nearest store children have access to. For me, it was the Store 24. It's a rite of passage. The first time you have money in your hand and wander off, on your own, alone, to buy something with your money. Some children do it younger. Some older. But there comes a time when you go alone. When I went, I pushed my sister to the counter in front of me because I didn't want to talk to the cashier, because I was shy. I bought a candy bar. She kept trying to push me. In the end, due to my complete ability at that age to never speak if I set my mind to it, I won and she had to. There's a lot of people who would have a hard time believing there was ever a time when I avoided speaking to, well, people, for a great many years. I find myself returning to that time when I was quieter, though no longer due to fear, now, due to a desire for quieter, more meaningful conversation over inane chatter. (Still, I struggle, I love chatting.)
The rite of passage, though, is something that can often go unnoticed. To the boys, it was just 'FINALLY mom is letting us go to the 7-11 to buy something.' And in my head I'm going 'Ohigosh, they are so little, they are tiny, and too young, and it's such a big world, they might get knocked over and then what…' and then I looked up and realized I wasn't looking at my babies, my little toddling chubby-legged sweethearts with pudgy hugs. No, I was looking at bony, lanky dirt-streaked boys almost as tall as me. I was looking at a thin, angled faces, one more marked with freckles than the other. I stared into confident gray eyes that said "we asked Dad if we could go because you're kinda a worrywart and would probably have said no.'
They were loud and sure and running loudly around, one looking for shoes (you can't wear slippers to the 7-11) and pants (no pajama pants either) the other procuring funds from their father.
I wondered if they would be shy. I told them to buy small slurpees so they had enough money. I perceived that their experience would be like mine, and tried to prepare them for the greatest success - go in with enough money, get your goods, flee. I anticipated their anticipation, a little bit of giddiness (freedom!), but no, that was my experience, not theirs. Theirs was full of giddy slurpee-ness joy. They were all sure of themselves, hopping on their bikes practically running over each other on their way out, and, having none of the reservations I had as a child about speaking, the first thing they did when they got in the store was ask - "How much are the large slurpees? The extra large?" They did some quick math, and realized they each could get a large slurpee, they could get me a small slurpee (how sweet!) and a second root beer. They came home with their bags hanging off their bicycles. They ran outside to show their friends their loot. They have gone to the store, and spent their money. They now know the value of money, the joy of buying precious things.
Thy'll soon have a mall to wander around in bicycling distance. (The advantage of living in an urban area - okay, it's not like, you know, quaint posh magazine urban, but we've got stores, a new mall being built, coffee shops and a fairly decent main street and downtown all within walking or bicycling distance!).
I'm happy they are here, at this stage, and I know two things.
I know they now will desire to have spending money for all the things they can get at the magic 7-11 and other stores - joy for them!
I know now, I can pay to have things done I don't want to do - yay for me!
I"m never going to be able to get away with forgetting to pay their allowance (I'm human!)
It's time to teach them about spending, savings and earnings on a strictly monetary level.
They are going to gorge themselves on slurpees. They are going to become slurpee addicts, and suffer major cold-inflicted headaches. They'll soon have a mall to wander around in bicycling distance. (The advantage of living in an urban area - okay, it's not like, you know, quaint posh magazine urban, but we've got stores, a new mall being built, coffee shops and a fairly decent main street and downtown all within walking or bicycling distance!).
They are growing up.