Source of image: money.cnn.job
“Aren’t your parents supposed to be rich? Then how come you don’t wear nice clothes like the popular girls?”
There is no one quite so tactless or insensitive as a post-pubescent boy. My dad co-owned a few small businesses in our little town but no, while I had noticed that we seemed to have a bit more than some kids I knew (I carefully kept this as hidden as I could: no lack of tactlessness in my family tree), my parents certainly didn’t have enough to keep me clothed like the ‘popular girls’.
And honestly, I didn’t expect them to.
I couldn’t wait to be old enough for a real job. I had been babysitting since I was eleven years-old but to have a salary! A real, regular salary! Well, I counted the days to my sixteenth birthday and began my job search the very next day.
Ever the shy introvert, I ended up going to my first job interview with my friend, where we were both hired to serve ice-cream and flip burgers at the local Dairy Queen. Having my own money meant being able to go to the movies or pitch in on a large pizza with my friends when we went out. Working at a fast-food restaurant, however, meant that I didn’t get to spend much of my money as I worked most Friday and Saturday nights, and all day most Sundays, when kids my age were out having a great time. Nonetheless, I loved working there and took great pride in my work. I must have worked for at least a year before, having dutifully set aside most of what I had earned for university, I had saved enough money to go on my first big shopping trip.
One Saturday morning, a few of my girl friends and I boarded the local train and headed for the city, a few hours away (this in the days when train travel was still a common – and fairly inexpensive – way for regular folks in our province to get around).
I still recall my parents’ faces – literally beaming with pride – when I arrived home early that evening and rushed to my room to unwrap my purchases so that I could do a little fashion show for them both, where they sat waiting in the living room.
I wish I could recall whether I had the good manners and generosity of spirit to have bought them a little something (as my husband did for his Mom, with his first paycheck) but I suspect I was a little too wrapped up in buying pretty clothes to think very much about anyone but myself.
Now sixty years old, I am smiling to myself at the frivolous teenaged girl I once was: I would never waste so much of my money on clothes anymore. I am not what anyone (ever) could call a fashionista. I prefer jeans, hoodies and sneakers – preferably from a second-hand shop because that is more environmentally friendly – and I haven’t worn anything other than a wee bit of lipstick in years.
But at the time? Well, I remember how proud I was. I remember how proud my parents were of me.
It’s funny: when we become parents, we think we should do everything for our children. We want to ensure that they don’t want for anything; that they don’t suffer. We want for life to be better for them than it was for us.
But maybe that’s not always the point. I am old enough to have learned that it’s in the trials of our lives that we learn the most. It’s the things we have to work for; the things we earn; that become the most meaningful to us.
And it’s when parents see their children accomplish something all on their own that they are most proud of their kids.
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com
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