Recently something really rare happened. I got to leave the house and run errands by myself! 🙂 That’s a real treat these days and I decided to take advantage of my freedom and stop by Target just to look around and check a few prices.
I was casually browsing the baby aisle when I heard her. An unhappy mom, in the toy section, speaking very loudly to a kid (or kids, I didn’t yet know).
“You can’t buy that, it’s a waste of money!”
“Do you even really WANT that? You don’t just buy things to buy things, you have to really want it!”
I was interested in the exchange right away, because I think a lot about how I want to teach my sons about money. I wasn’t exactly eavesdropping, since she was so loud, but I was definitely paying attention.
The mom was loud, bordering on belligerent. Everyone within a six aisle radius knew she was in a bad mood.
I try not to judge too much, because I haven’t been there. My oldest is yet to turn three and his main understanding of money is that we pay for things before we are allowed to take them home from the store. And like any parent, I understand how it feels to be totally exhausted and exasperated by my own kids. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had our moments.
But then I heard her raise her voice even louder and say “You’re a LIAR! You’re lying to me! You don’t really want it, you just want to buy something!”
I walked past the aisle she was in and finally saw who she was speaking to. A very small girl, maybe five or six years old. Throughout the entire exchange I never heard the little girl’s voice once, so she must have been speaking much softer than her mother.
Liar. That really stuck out to me. Strong, harsh words in my opinion. What impact are those words going to have on that little girl emotionally? On her relationship with her mother? On her relationship with money?
I made my way down to the massive Valentine’s section and came across another mom. This mom had two boys, just like me, so I gave her a friendly smile. Her boys were much older than mine, both probably in elementary school.
I quickly realized they were shopping for Valentine’s for their classmates and teachers, and that each boy had a set budget to work within. They were carefully considering all of the cool options, making sure there were enough goodies in a package to cover the number of friends in their class, but also checking prices and doing math on their fingers.
The younger of the two brothers kept getting distracted by the big heart shaped boxes of chocolates and exclaiming “Mommy, can I buy something for you? I want to buy something for you!” It was obvious this kid took great joy in buying gifts for others, not just spending money on himself.
His mother was very gentle, redirecting him back to the task at hand. She told him “maybe you can come back later with Daddy to pick something out for me.”
But this gentle, loving mom was no pushover. When the older of the two boys added up the cost of two large Valentine’s he wanted for his teachers, he was over budget. “Sorry, buddy. You can’t spend $16 on your teachers,” she said. “You can get that for just one teacher, or you can get something smaller for both of them.”
Her tone was calm, kind, and cheerful. She wasn’t rushing her sons, or pushing them to make the choice she wanted to make, and she was firm. The boy didn’t throw a fit, he just placed the items back on the shelf and kept carefully considering his options.
The younger brother, who had already picked out candy for his class, quickly chimed in “or you can have some of my money!”
Now that mom is doing something right!
Now, I don’t know anything about those two women in Target other than what I observed for a few short minutes. It wouldn’t be fair to label one a “good mom” and one a “bad mom.” But the interactions did give me a lot to think about when it comes to parenting and money. I know I want to be the kind of mom who is gentle and kind, but firm.
How about you? Have you witnessed anything interesting at Target lately?