Reuse or do without
Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:01 pm
We’ve tried to teach our boys that there are a myriad of products out there that they can live without ... and still be able to sleep at night. Since we moved to the country four years ago, both our boys have wanted a 4-wheeler. I’m not opposed to 4-wheelers. My husband is not opposed to 4-wheelers. We’re just opposed to paying for one. If one of our boys wants to work on an oil rig for a few weeks, he’s welcome to do so and pay cash for a 4-wheeler. But at the ripe ages of 10 and 12, the oil rig opportunity seems unlikely. We explained that our money was already committed to silly things like food, shelter and college funds. They both gave us “the look.” You know “the look.” It’s the disappointed little kid look that makes you realize what a great parent you are. Sometimes kids accompany the look with commentary, “Awww, I can’t believe you won’t let us eat out every night! And why can’t we buy these expensive tennis shoes?”
“I know, Sweetheart. It’s called being a parent. You’re kids. We’re adults. That’s why we don’t buy you everything you want. Honey, it’s our job to make sure you don’t get everything you want. Parent Handbook, pg. 17, paragraph 3.” You can even say to your kids, “Someday you’ll thank me.” But we’ve found that just adds insult to injury. Incidentally, parents who never get “the look” are parents who are setting their kids up for financial disaster. You can take that one to the bank.
Despite our speech about the 4-wheeler, last week something marvelous happened. It was almost miraculous. Our riding lawn mower completely died. While we were eventually able to get the engine going again, every part of the mowing capacity was gone. Useless. Or was it? That’s when it hit us. “Hey boys, guess what? You now have your very own personal recreational vehicle! That’s right! We’ll gas it up and you can give it a go around the property. I guess kids are excited when they get a brand new 4-wheeler, but I promise they’re no more excited than two boys riding through rural Dresden on an old dusty mower. At one point, our younger son put on his cowboy boots and waved his cowboy hat in the air as he drove by. Yep! He’s one free-spirited cowboy on an orange riding lawn mower! And none of us are in debt! Conservationists should be proud. We found a way to reuse and recycle.
Recycling our lawn mower just gave us the motivation for other money-saving projects. One of our cats needed to go to the vet to be “fixed.” While some people think a cat needs to be transported to the vet in a pet carrier, our family knew there had to be a cheaper (I mean better) way. We don’t own a pet carrier and so the boys and I put our heads together. We transported our beautiful (though slightly wild) cat, Butterscotch, to the vet’s office in style. I don’t have space to share the details here. But suffice it to say, we were proud as punch of our laundry basket/duct tape pet carrier creation. If you want to make your own laundry basket pet carrier, we’ll be glad to send the blueprints for a mere $9.99 plus shipping and handling. Wow! The ideas just keep comin’.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 7.23.08