There is an old children’s book entitled Arthur’s Honey Bear. It’s a book that came in a large box of old books from my MIL’s house. It’s been one of the kids’ favorite night time stories lately and it really got my oldest girl to thinking. Basically it’s a book about a boy monkey who wants to sell all his old toys so he sets up a tag sale. He carts his crap out to the lawn, makes signs, prices his items, eats cupcakes and waits for buyers. His little sister is witness to the whole affair, helps set things up and then when no one else buys anything she buys the one item that her brother is most ambivalent about selling: his Honey Bear. The story goes on with the boy monkey feeling jealous of his sister who is happily playing with her new bear. He tries to tell her how best to play with the bear and she basically tells him to bugger off since Honey Bear now belongs to her. Her brother sulks a bit more and then changes his way of thinking. He decides that since he can no longer be the bear’s daddy he can be the bear’s uncle and do all sorts of fun things that uncles do with their nephews. It was a cute story that ideally shows kids that if they change their way of thinking they can turn a negative situation into a positive one.
My daughter didn’t really walk away with any inspiration to change her way of thinking. She walked away from the book with motivation to sell her junk. One night as I was snuggling her before bed she said to me as matter-of-fact as only a 5 year old can, “I am going to have a junk sale tomorrow. For real! I am.” She wasn’t bouncing the idea off me. There was no discussion of whether or not this was a feasible idea. It was a statement, pure and simple, of her plans for the next day and there was no way I was going to dampen her determination even though I questioned exactly what “junk” she was referring to. So I said good night and walked out of her room as she declared her next days intent one more time so I knew she was serious.
The next day, following her last day of preschool, we welcomed Oma and Opa back from Germany, went out to lunch and then as soon as we arrived home Lil began setting up for her Junk Sale. She collected her “junk” while I made her some signs. We were in a bit of a hurry to get the junk sale up and running before gymnastics class otherwise I would have had her do everything herself. We organized the junk, priced it and set up signs directing everyone to her room where the sale was being held.
As soon as Lilly declared her junk sale open her brother ran to his piggy bank and took out a few coins. He had a dime and a quarter clutched in his hands as he seriously considered what he couldn’t live without. Most of his sister’s junk was girly stuff that didn’t interest him but there was one object that he decided he must own; her gnawed on and flattened Disney princess bat. It was really the junkiest junk on the desk so of course that’s what he wanted. It cost 10 cents so he handed his dime to his sister who smiled from ear to ear and immediately put her earnings into her own piggy bank. At this point both kids were really into the junk sale and although I probably shouldn’t have let Odin pay for his sister’s crap I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity to teach the kids about money and so I let it go. O browsed through the junk one more time because that quarter he was holding was begging to be spent so he obliged and bought an old Happy Meal toy, also a 10 cent item. I helped them exchange money and then we had to run to gymnastics.
When we got home later that evening Lilly was eager to lead her dad up to her junk sale in hopes that he’d want to buy some of her crap and she could plunk a few more coins into her piggy bank. Unfortunately for her I had already primed her daddy as to the days events and he was about to teach her a little lesson about her so called “junk”. He pointed out that important people in her life had given her that “junk” and as he went through each item she snatched it up and quickly changed her mind about selling it. I love my husband for the way he goes about teaching the kids lessons. He sat down with her and they discussed the value in selling a fair product for a fair price and the importance of valuing the things that you are fortunate enough to have.
Later on, right around bed time, my son came to me crying and explained that his sister had taken the bat back. I calmly led him back to her room and had her give the bat back to its rightful owner. I had to explain to Lil that her brother had bought that mutilated bat fair and square and that it now belonged to him. This of course made her cry. I put the baby to bed as she continued feeling sorry for herself and when I could give her my full attention I went back in and we discussed her feelings and paralleled them to the book that instigated the whole junk sale affair. We discussed that she was feeling jealous because Odin was having so much fun playing with the new bat just like Arthur did when he saw his sister playing with his old Honey Bear. We discussed that Odin is a nice brother and if she asked him nicely to play with the bat sometimes he would most likely consent just as Arthur’s sister allowed Arthur to be Honey Bear’s uncle. We also discussed how she initially had considered the bat to be junk and she should change the way she was thinking about the situation. Instead of lamenting the loss of the bat she should consider the fact that she got rid of something she didn’t want and now has more money in her piggy bank which was the whole purpose of the junk sale in the first place. She went to bed that night with a lot to mull over but she was content and happy to be a few cents richer.
I loved seeing the determination in my 5 year old as she followed through with her plans and I loved all the great teaching opportunities that popped up before, during and after the junk sale. This was such a fun experience as a parent. There are just some moments you hope to remember forever and for me this was one of those moments. And this is why I blog. To help me remember some of the special times that frequently get lost in the craziness of life.
Oh, and just for the record, O slept with the bat for 3 nights, played with it during the days and taunted his sister with it. By day 4 the bat had been discarded just as it had when Lil owned it. Such is the fate of a battered bat.