by Digger Barr
I try not to write about my son’s childhood.
If he knew I wrote about him he probably wouldn’t like it. Most of us wouldn’t. However there are some things about his experience that are part of my experience and with this I take permission.
There are some things too valuable to let slide. Learning through a child’s eyes is one of those things. Even if you’re a bystanding adult. My son has given me a whole other lifetime of learning and enjoyment. Reflecting on his moments of aha-ness, watching him trying to grasp new concepts and practicing new found words has been an enrichment of my journey in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Now that he is growing into a man, those childhood memories surface frequently for me.
Sigh. I have become that embarrassing parent that shares stories the kids don’t want you to tell.
Or they grimace and listen wondering just how many more times they have to endure the retelling
Sometimes a precious retelling can bring new thoughts forward.
This is one I stumbled upon yesterday.
It began with the word Smooth.
We were working on a project prepping the ground for a layer of gravel, for a new slate patio.
Words that often trip us up can be the easy ones as they can carry different meanings and application depending on the listener.
When I say rake the dirt smooth another may hear level the area.
When you say level does it have any slope?
And if it has slope does that mean it is level or smooth?
You can see how someone might not understand exactly a simple common word and its intended application. When my co-worker failed to achieve smoothing the dirt and instead changed the desired slope, another worker commented on having a clinic on the meaning of ‘smooth’.
I thought about my son’s learning about the word and its application.
It is far from what one would think.
It indeed took a village to raise him.
During his preschool days, one of the villagers took on the challenge of guiding him on the concept of money.
I ran into his attempt at grasping this concept in real time.
Apparently, he was told that the price of things have dollars and cents. And then it changes when tax is calculated. He was 5 years old mind you. And he gave it valiant effort.
We were looking at greenware in a ceramic shop. It was Christmas and nothing sings ‘good gift’ more than something painted by a child.
So as we were looking at what he might want to give, a clerk appeared to help with our selection.
My son asked how much the cup was. The clerk said two dollars.
He asked if it was two dollars smooth.
I did not have a concern about cost so this conversation was initiated entirely by him.
The clerk looked quite puzzled and I needed to interpret what was going on.
You see, an easy word was used to help a child understand our complex money system. It was introduced to present an intricate concept with simplicity and comprehension.
How do you explain dollars that change after a decimal point?
How would you explain a price tag that changes at the cash register?
How do you explain a value point that is not actually a fixed point but a deception point for sale and then actual cost changes at checkout?
How would you describe taxes to a child?
The villager that began this lesson was gentle and clever. Start with dollars without cents or tax, give it a simple name.
In the attempt they gave a child a different concept on a basic word.
Two dollars smooth.
Now wouldn’t that be a fine way to live.
In the resurfacing of this story and the meaning of the word smooth, I had another idea.
If having no tax is smooth, would adding tax be rough?
I am going to go with ‘Yes’. It has been.
Now what happens when we change the money system we have so successfully integrated into our lives?
Are we going to be able to look at things with new eyes?
Will we be able to accept the changing slope in an attempt to level the playing field?
Will our idea of money be easy to change?
Will that transition be smooth?
Will we allow ourselves to learn new ways?
Can we be as valiant as a preschooler and shop for things while integrating new concepts?
This whole idea of change and integration of new ways is exciting to me.
I hope to approach it with this same sense of wow and wonderment as I watched my son do.
“Thank you Honey for helping me learn.”
This potentially rough process and sloping terrain ahead has just been infused by love from my past.
I wish you all the same love infusion and the courage to be as receptive and curious as a child.
May your transition and new integration be ‘ two dollars smooth.’