Skip to main content

nickel and dime

Recently my son wanted to buy something that he had saved up his money for. A lava lamp. And he had the cash for it. The only problem was that most of it was in change. So he filled his pockets with about ten pounds of coinage and we headed to the store.

Now, the easiest thing would be for me to put it on my debit card. With the few other items I of course needed. But I wanted him to own every bit of the process (and learn a thing or two about sales tax). So I glared at the people behind us who were muttering as my sweet guy counted out his change.
All 14.99 + tax of it.
And he proudly took home his new lava lamp carrying it oh so carefully to the car.
Because it was his. He had bought it with his own hard earned cash.
One quarter, dime and nickel at a time.

I haven’t bought anything more than a cup of coffee with change in years. But in high school and college I used to do it all the time. I’d raid my dad’s change box and buy pizza. I’d gather up all the change in my cup holder for a new cd in college. But these days I just swipe my card and hope it goes through.

When I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while and they ask me what is new. I struggle.
Because. Thankfully. The answer is not much. I have been married to the same guy, had the same career, lived in the same house, been the same size and had mostly the same color hair for a decade. Give or take a few. My age creeps up every year. And my kids change overnight. They wake up smarter and taller and with less teeth everyday. While I wake up and realize that the jeans I am pulling on are older than both my kids combined.

And there are changes that I really want to avoid. Like the ones other people make for me. Middle of the night phone calls. Test results. Cut backs.  But other changes are necessary and good.  And we should all be growing and changing, even if we are the same size and in the same place doing the same things with the same people. And I often feel that I am stagnant and stuck and that I am still struggling with the exact same things I was a dozen years ago. Which is sometimes why I do ridiculous teenager-y things like pierce my nose, or get a tattoo, or dye my hair some crazy color. The outside is so much easier to change than the inside.

But I am selling myself short, just like I would have done if I hadn’t let my son pay for his prize himself.  All that little changed added up as long as someone was willing to take the time to count it.

Because sometimes progress, and growth and change comes in pennies and dimes and quarters.  Like remembering to bring my re-useable grocery bags for a change. Not telling a secret. Not buying another shirt I don’t need. Waiting. Listening. Rinsing out my bowl.

And, next time someone asks me what’s new….I just hope they can wait while I count out my change.

and it has been a while but I am participating in this....
click here for more posts on change.


Stacia said…
14.99 plus tax. In change. I love it!!
Kate said…
As always, you make me think.
TKW said…
This was awesome!
M K Countryman said…
I like the way you emphasize to notice the penny changes - remembering grocery bags or rinsing a bowl. I can identify with those changes.......
Justine said…
Loved this! What a great metaphor, and yes, sometime we need to stop and count the little things too because they do add up don't they? So glad to have found your blog through 5 for 5!
Are you me? The not telling a secret is my new habit-change. I am learning to hold onto it, even if the person in front of me is someone who'd never tell a soul. It's so hard!

Ehem. Loved how your words cast me back time to my own college days, scrounging around to find quarters for the laundry. Good times!
Love this. So happy to have found your blog.
Rudri said…
I love that your son counted out all the change. Glad to meet you through Five for Five.
Sarah said…
This is great. And exactly where my mind needs to be: Count the small change; it's bound to add up! I love it. I also love that the hard earned item was a lava lamp. Awesome!
Natalie said…
Hi there, found you via know, rinsing out the bowl can make a huge difference in someone's life.

Popular posts from this blog

preachers and parades.

Months ago, I sat in a pew and tried to not think about the fact that you could count on one hand the number of white congregants in the room.
And I was one of them.
 I did not want to draw attention to myself, but despite the fact that I have been to church most Sundays of my life, I had no idea what to do. When to sit, stand, pray or the lyrics to any of the songs. The rules here seemed so different than my own church, just a few miles away. Filled with people who mostly looked like me.
 A few elderly African American women were seated next to me and were kind enough to attempt to make me feel welcome and tell me what to do. At some point Eunice, in a bright purple dress, slid her arthritic hand on top of mine, squeezed and tugged me to the front to pray.
 I let her lead me, because I didn’t how else to respond, and because she seemed so genuinely glad that I was there, singing off key next to her.

 It was not lost on me, that my slight discomfort was one of choice and ended just …

The annual REAL Christmas letter

One of my favorite traditions for a decade has been to sit down and try to write a REAL Christmas letter.  Not just the highlights, but a few honest moments as well. It started as a joke with one of my friends, thinking how refreshing it be for people to share more than just their perfect lives that we are used to seeing on Facebook and Instagram. It would be way more truthful and a whole lot more entertaining. Last new year, I had a friend ask me to come up with a word for 2018. I joked that my word was just going to be “done”. I was partly kidding, partly serious. The year ahead seemed daunting rather than full of promise and resolutions.  I had so many things to finish in the upcoming year that I needed to be “done” with: my degree, my job and my thirties. A few weeks later, my friend showed up with one of those string bracelets with the metal word “done” hammered in the middle. I wore it often, especially in those home stretches. Not taking it off until I had my last chapter writte…

game day

“But I don’t want to go to soccer, I’m tired”
says the boy who has been running circles around the living room for the last hour.

“No, I don’t want to wear my jersey”
says the same boy that slept in his uniform just last week.

And so I do what any good mom would do, which is start bribing my kid.
I promise him ring pops or pizza or new toys for having a good attitude, listening to his coach and trying his best.
But those things are not quite enough to make him eagerly lace up his cleats.

Owen actually loves soccer practice.
And is one of the best dribblers on the teams.
And he loves kicking the ball around the living room and in the front yard.
But games days are hell.
Instead of being a proud momma on the sideline snapping pictures
I am usually trying not to cry.
Because Owen has realized that he isn’t really good at it.
That the other kids are bigger and faster and score more goals.

And today his team won. And they haven’t won many games.
And they cheered and lined up eagerly for patches and sna…