I took my 3 sons to a new outdoor mall in Austin when Woody was out of town. Half way through, I decided it'd be a good opportunity to train them in the love and admonition ...of shopping.
In the beginning all I heard from them sounded like their father:
"When are we (grunt, uggghhh) going to be done? Let's find a fish store. Five minutes (grunt grunt) is long enough, come on! We'll just sit out here and wait for you. Mom, you don't need another purse, what’s wrong with the one you have?"
I finally took them aside and looked them in the eye and said, "Sons, when you are a little older and have girlfriends or wives, you will discover that shopping is one of their favorite hobbies. Just as your favorite pastimes are computer games and catching toads, one of women’s favorite pastimes is shopping! Only a few men have discovered this secret. (I paused for dramatic impact--my oldest 2 were looking me in the eye, my youngest was pretending to be invisible.) Today, you could join their ranks. You couldbecome one of the few, the proud, one of the men who understand!!!”
I couldn't believe how easy it was. I simply had them repeat after me until they finally starting coming up with their own fantastic statements, "Mom, you should buy that. That would go with everything. That would look really good on you. You should buy that. What about this one over here? Why don't you try that on?" They were really into it and were as surprised at the insuppressible smiles glowing on their faces as I was. It was simply beautiful. Why hadn't I tried this before?
I left the store feeling giddy and elated, and it only slightly disturbed me to find Benjamin (youngest) had escaped my training at some point and was waiting limply outside on the bench with that familiar glazed look of "shoot me now." But there was still time, still hope, for him. As we were walking towards the California Pizza Kitchen to eat some well deserved sustenance, I began to say, "Sons, you have done it. You have discovered the secret and are well on your way to becoming true companions. You are becoming men who understand..." I was stopped short by a bitter-looking older lady who shook her head at us saying, "NO! It can never happen. Men cannot change! You are wasting your time!!"
We walked on silently in shock and disbelief. I knew I had to say something or all might be lost. I stammered on with a slight tinge of panic in my voice, "Sons, it can be done! I-I-I know—” but just then my oldest son put his hand my shoulder and pointed with a knowing smile, “Mom, would you like to go in that store?”
As Washington tries to spend, spend, spend their way out of the ditch, outrage is bubbling in Middle America. What public policy makers need is a swift spanking of common sense from a down-to-earth mom. That’s what Marisa Rickerson delivers here...
25 Thoughts - From a Conservative Mom in Liberal Times
1. Victims stay victims if given the choice.
2. Only owners take ownership.
3. A basic tenant for raising children into adults is to never do anything for them that they would benefit from by doing themselves. Can we not adopt that for the way we are raising our country?
4. Back in the day, if I’d thought someone was going to rescue me, I would never have discovered I had what it took to swim ashore. And that has made all the difference.
5. My children take every opportunity to remain irresponsible.
6. Even a mama bird knows if she doesn’t nudge her babes out of their easy living lifestyle, not only will they never fly, they’ll die. Her nudge out of the nest is a sign of her inherent trust, “I believe in you. I trust you will make it!” She never stops to ask herself if she is harsh or mean-spirited.
7. The darkest days of my adult life were the ones where I was allowed to stay stuck as a victim in an ineffective, unproductive lifestyle. I am most thankful for God and the other tough mama birds who wouldn’t let me get away with it. 8. I hate poverty and what it does to people; but the cure for poverty is for people to have nothing to do but turn and do the opposite of what brought them into poverty in the first place. We are so fortunate to live in a society that holds open the doors of freedom and opportunity for those who are simply willing to do what it takes to walk through them. (Ironic note: this very day, my husband knows he will not get the manager’s job for which he is interviewing because he is a white male) 9. My kids only have the initiative to take good care of the things they have worked hard to own. I have to stay on them about the other things; only owners take ownership.
10. Only success breeds success. 11. Human nature always looks for the easy way out; therefore, let’s compassionately bar the exits.
12. When I lived below the poverty line for 6 years in college, I simply lived within my means. I never went shopping. I lived on simple groceries. I drove a car that cost $800, and in the end sold it for $750. I purchased catastrophic health insurance. Going into debt was never an option in my mind. And I set my will against entering into any kind of destructive lifestyle. Therefore, I know it is possible to be in poverty yet not feel entitled to have more what my means dictate. I know it is possible to be in poverty and yet take the necessary steps to ascend.
13. I asked my kids, “Is it harder to give away 10% of $100 or of $100,000?” Without hesitation they said “Ten percent of $100 because if you have $100,000, you have plenty and wouldn’t miss the money.” I said, “So it would be no problem to give away $10,000, but very hard to give away $10?” I have heard adults who have never been in the position to give generously use that same detached reasoning, saying, “They really didn’t need the money.” Before becoming a giver, I remember assuming this many times, too.
14. We were created in God’s likeness to be givers, not takers. Therefore, taking from others, without the determination to give them back an even bigger portion, was intended by God to feel immoral. (i.e., lead to poor self-esteem)
15. We once lent money to two families. One couple did all sorts of menial labor to repay us. The other family seems to have forgotten. Is there any question as to which one of these families is now better off than we are?
16. Knowing how to work hard begets quiet confidence and inner strength; there is no substitute.
17. My children naturally make excuses and look for ways to manipulate the system to get out of doing chores and their fair share.
18. Trickle down Reaganomics works. Because of the hard times, I personally know people who have in effect fired dozen of employees because now they do their own housekeeping, do their own yard work, go out to eat less, work on their own vehicles, do their own home improvements, wash their own car, shop less, travel less, cut back on music lessons…the list is truly endless.
19. My kids spend my money like its water; they spend their own money with methodical, almost excruciating care.
20. I have the utmost respect for those who work hard in minimum wage jobs when it’d be so much easier to take my taxpayer’s money. They are nobler than kings and queens, and I take every opportunity to thank them as such.
21. Once two major interstate projects needed to be completed that were almost identical. One was contracted with the government and took almost 4 years to complete. The other was contracted with a privately owned company and took around a half a year to complete. Only owners take ownership. Government will never have the kind of “produce effective results or go under” ownership needed to be effective player in our economy. It should step out of the way any time it can, and make room for true owners.
22. Our entire society on all levels (families, schools, government, etc) should be sounding the trumpet: “Be low-maintenance and high-effect people.” On all levels we should allow inherent rewards and consequences uphold this standard.
23. Before my husband and I help people, we take a quick common-sense assessment. If they have big TV’s, video game systems, multiple vehicles, techno-gadgets, cable TV, eat out, buy first-hand clothes and expensive groceries, etc., then we think, “Hmmm. Sounds like a prioritization problem to me.” We know throwing more money at them will only enable more irresponsible spending. We then offer budgeting assistance, but no one has taken us up on that offer.
24. If my household can live creatively off a budget and even produce a surplus, then I insist that those who represent me do, too.
24. I strongly desire to help those who can’t help themselves, but insist on a true definition of exactly who those are - because even more strongly, I desire to help those who can help themselves, help themselves. Enabling someone to remain a victim is like binding the mama bird from giving them that life-giving nudge.