Friday, August 31, 2007

Things worth working for -- jcarolek

I remember being small. I remember thinking how far away everything seemed and how very far I had to go to reach things. As an adult of, course, I realize that my parents placed things out of my reach so that I would want to work harder to get them. I am not speaking of those things that parents want to put out of reach so that their children will not hurt themselves. That is another topic altogether.

How to be patient, how to figure out a way to get the desired item, and how to be willing to do the work necessary to get there were valuable lessons I learned from my parents. Would I have learned these lessons as well had my parents simply been able to give me whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it? I don’t really know, but somehow, I doubt it.

I remember specific examples:

My violin…to get one of my own, I had to practice hard for a year and “show promise” in my playing ability. I ended up helping Dad make my first violin for my 10th birthday and making my own at age 13.

My sewing machine…I had to use my mother’s ancient Singer and sew nearly every day from that Christmas when my sister got her sewing machine (which is what made me decide I wanted one) until that Christmas three years later when at 17 ½ I got the IOU from Santa in the Christmas tree (my sewing machine would be purchased after Christmas during the sales)…Dad had made it known I had to prove I would use the machine, if I were to get it. I still use that sewing machine today.

My bicycle…the other kids in the neighborhood were riding at 5 and 6 years old…we had to wait until we were 9. The Christmas I got my bicycle, I was thrilled…and that bicycle saw me through my teenage years.

There are many more examples, of course, but I think you get my point. Part of the lesson was taught out of necessity. With six children, purse strings were necessarily tight. Part of the lesson was taught out of steadfast belief by my parents that children should be allowed to explore their interests, but should prove their interests to be sustaining before a great deal of money was invested. And part of the lesson was taught because of their belief that those things we work hardest for are the things we most appreciate.

I was looking through an old scrapbook today and found a photo of myself on Christmas morning, when I was three. I have no idea whether the bear on the mantle was mine. I had a four year old sister, a two year old brother and a baby brother at the time. But I can still recall that feeling I had that day, and so many times thereafter. I was taken with that bear and finding a way to get it was my challenge. (Please pardon the blurry old photo...I use it to illustrate my point)

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