Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thus Endeth the Lesson...

Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you. -Aldous Huxley

Vacation Bible School, hereunto and afterwards addressed lovingly as VBS has come and gone again this year.   A few years ago, I was a teacher of young spiritual seekers who sang songs loudly, held my hand and said they wish they could live with me and smiled as they took what was left of my sleep deprived sanity out the door.  Working all day and then rushing to finish another 3 hours of blessed rewards left me with one thought when it was all over…

Never again.

This year I was taking a course in downtown Chicago on how to have some shiny new hacking skillz.  Because I took the train timing just wouldn’t allow me to get to VBS in time to teach and guide young minds in the spiritual sarcasm that children do love me for.   

Especially my children.   

But many people pulled together and successfully created a plethora of enjoyable 5 nights of puppets, a live action show and a real toy store with its own monetary system.

Yes, our VBS had a “store” that children, who accomplished tasks, would earn fictitious money to spend in the store.  Oddly enough in these economic times, this play money had more worth than our current dollar.  The store was populated by the good people of the church who bought or made donations of actual American dollars for the purchasing of toys for ages 7 and below and 7 and above.  I’m not sure why the store was divided in age appropriate toys, I just know it was and therefore my youngest Collin who is 7 would be the one to break that rule.

"The wise know too well their weakness to assume infallibility; and he who knows most knows best how little he knows." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Working for a toy company I have acquired a small collection of toys for mainly babies and boys that are currently housed in totes around the house.  Most of it has been given away, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to help out the VBS store.  Some collector die cast cars were given for the 7+ older section of the store because it was made known to everyone that is where a need was.  I had a large number of these.  The boys use to love them until they spent more time crashing them than playing with them.

"It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf." ~ Walter Lippman

A few nights into VBS and I am home, and about 9:30PM the kids arrive with presents in tow from the VBS toy store.  Collin has candy and a sling shot.  Sure, why not?  That seems like a great idea. 

Brandon has one of the die cast cars that we gave away.

One of the die cast cars that were sitting in the garage for possibly years.  Sitting in the house.  And it was now back in the house.  I was confused.


“Yeah Dad?”

“Isn’t that the car we gave to the toy store?”

Of course it was the car.  What else was it going to be?  Sometimes I find myself asking inane questions because I am dumbfounded by what I am seeing going on in front of me.  I must have brought dozens of these cars home for the boy.  Different sizes, makes, models and some that were limited runs of production.  He never showed an interest in them except to play with them for a little bit, then crash 'em.  I stopped giving them to him because he didn’t have an interest in them anymore.  That’s why they were being stored, to give away.

“Yeah, it is Dad”

“Why?  How?  Why did you buy that?  Did it cost a lot of your VBS money?”

“I spent it all, and I had to borrow 8 VBS dollars from Jordan.”

My thought was WHAT?!  Why on earth would you borrow money to buy something I could have given you for free?!  But it came out differently than in my head when it made it to my mouth.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!  Why on earth would you borrow money to buy something I could have given you for free?!”

I could tell my inquiry and the tone of my voice I delivered it in caught him off guard.  

“I dunno”

“No, buddy, you need to explain why you would buy something, and borrow money from a friend, for something that I could have gotten out of the garage for you for nothing.”
His eyes got shaky here.  “The Car, It doesn’t mean anything.”


I slowed down.  Something was different in his answer that wasn’t meshing with what he was TRYING to tell me.

“What do you mean by that, Brandon?”
“If you gave it to me, I didn’t earn it.  I didn’t do anything to get it.  I worked for this, I wanted to earn it.”

Quickly time stopped.  I scanned all the conversations I had with Brandon, all the lessons I stress test him on, all the Brandon/Dad time looking for this one.

Nada.  There was never a lesson about appreciating something you earned and having a feeling of accomplishment.  I figured he was a few years out from that.

I was wrong.

At ten years old Brandon picked up and learned that you appreciate something more that you worked hard to invest in.  Seems like a simple concept, but we blow it as adults.

We stop appreciating friendships and relationships that use to come so easy, we stop the hard work to invest in them.  We expect reciprocation of a greater amount than we have actually put in.  We take things for granted.  We take PEOPLE for granted.

There he was, looking at his earned item.  He left it in the box, since he didn’t want it ruined. 

It’s my job as his Dad to take this moment that he made himself and help him build on it.  So that he understands that in the future the investment he makes in his spouse, his job, and his friends and in his children will help him realize how important they are to him.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.