My husband and I have a problem.
You see, I grew up in a family that had some money. No, we weren’t the Rockefellers by any stretch, but vacations, dinners out, and new school clothes were all pretty abundant if I’m honest about it.
My husband grew up in a family that didn’t have so much money. He tells stories of having to go out hunting squirrels if they wanted meat with dinner that night. No joke.
And here we are, somewhere in the middle. The grocery budget isn’t going to make it if I’m not creative and frugal. That said, I certainly don’t have to go shootin’ rodents to put some meat on the table.
Like I said– in the middle.
There’s a part of me that wonders if my kids are missing out because they don’t necessarily get to vacation as much as I did as a child.
There’s a part of my husband that wants desperately to give his kids more than he had– even though he will tell you outright that he had a great childhood.
We know that we can’t plan grand European adventures or even indulgent dinners out every week. We also know our children aren’t suffering because of this. Nonetheless, when we can, we love to surprise them with some little unexpected joy even if it’s a “kids eat free” night at a local restaurant. When they sense our excitement, it’s positively contagious and these little people are positively thrilled. Such fun.
Last summer, we had noted that a small neighboring town was having their annual carnival. Feeling very sneaky, we loaded the kids into the minivan after supper and headed off.
We didn’t tell them where we were going. When they didn’t even ask, we got a little impatient. “Who wants to guess where we’re going? Any ideas?” They threw out some rather dull suggestions (e.g. “the gas station?”), which made us feel even more clever about our plan. Finally, my husband volunteered this much information, “We’re going someplace fun. What’s the most fun, the most exciting, the most wonderful place you can think of going right now?” I cast an unsure glance at him. What was he thinking? Surely they were going to come back with something lofty like Disney World and then they would be horribly disappointed by this tiny town carnival. There was silence. There were a couple of shrugs. Finally, our middle child ventured… “The dollar store?” “Dollar store! Dollar store! Dollar store!” three voices chanted together.
And we burst out laughing. Needless to say, that little carnival made their eyes light with joy. We paid a small fortune for a handful of tickets, but it was totally worth it. It was worth it because of all that was learned… Turns out our children didn’t need to learn all about great experiences from us. Turns out we needed to learn all about finding the greatness in the simple things… from them.
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