Why is it al­ways about money?

Post - - News - TASH REDDY

I DIDN’T be­lieve it at first.

There was no pos­si­ble way that what my 12-yearold son was telling me could be true, but he in­sisted.

See, he has an af­ter-school job pack­ing gro­ceries at a lo­cal su­per­mar­ket and earns money through tips cus­tomers give him. He starts straight af­ter school and as such is in his uni­form.

But there seemed to be a prob­lem, so he told me he thought it would be bet­ter if he did not wear his uni­form.

It seemed to work be­cause he made so much more money when he wasn’t in his uni­form.

He told me there were times when peo­ple were about to give him money but looked at his school logo and took it back.

How odd! I couldn’t fathom it, so I de­cided to see for my­self and to my hor­ror he was right.

Be­ing my per­sis­tent war­rior self, I de­cided to get to the root of it and I asked.

I stopped a male cus­tomer, who took the money back, and cor­dially asked him why, while ex­plain­ing I was the lit­tle boy’s mom.

The re­sponse shocked me.

“Do you have no shame? Why are you all act­ing like you all don’t have money when your son goes to the most ex­pen­sive pri­vate school? Why should I give him my money when you all have enough? You should be em­bar­rassed,” the man said. Wow! Then some peo­ple who know my par­ents also ex­pressed con­cerns about their suc­cess­ful busi­ness and so­cial rep­u­ta­tions be­ing tainted by hav­ing their grand­son pack gro­ceries as a “job”.

What would peo­ple think? And still an­other mom asked me how I could do that to my child.

As par­ents we should give our chil­dren the best – ev­ery­thing we didn’t have. We should work for them and make sure they don’t lack any­thing.

And it brought me to a few con­clu­sions.

Are we re­ally de­fined by the clothes and la­bels we wear, cars we drive and houses we live in? When do we start defin­ing our­selves as hu­man be­ings first?

As a so­ci­ety what have our val­ues be­come, re­ally? What are the real is­sues that should ac­tu­ally em­bar­rass us and why do we al­ways have to paint this pic­ture to ev­ery­one that is so val­ue­less?

I mean, we all know this for a fact. Go to any func­tion and the first ques­tion peo­ple will ask is: “What’s your child do­ing now?” be­fore they pro­ceed to tell you how suc­cess­ful they are.

You al­ways hear how their chil­dren are doc­tors, lawyers, busi­ness own­ers, live in big houses and drive fancy cars.

Not once do I ever hear any­one say their chil­dren are do­ing well emo­tion­ally, men­tally and phys­i­cally as spouses and par­ents or that they are kind, re­spect­ful and happy. It’s al­ways about money.

An­other thing that con­cerns me is the fact that the “richer” peo­ple are seen as in­hu­man and so they are set apart from so­ci­ety.

The truth is that ev­ery day I see more and more delin­quency among our youth as a re­sult of that mind­set.

Money seems to make them be­lieve they are un­touch­able, above the law and above moral stand­ing.

So it brings me to this: Ex­actly what legacy are we giv­ing to our chil­dren? Firstly, my son chang­ing his clothes to make more money is teach­ing him to be a liar and hyp­ocrite.

That’s not suc­cess and not some­thing to be proud of. In fact that em­bar­rasses me.

Se­condly, while my chil­dren lack noth­ing and my hus­band and I have cre­ated a com­fort­able life for them, our money is not his.

One day, in the very dis­tant fu­ture, it will be, but for now it be­longs to us.

He needs to learn that money doesn’t just come from se­cretly guarded trea­sure troves that never run out, which means he can do and have as he pleases.

That in fact is cre­at­ing a men­tal­ity of en­ti­tle­ment and the no­tion that noth­ing has to be ven­tured to be gained. That at­ti­tude will see my hus­band and I for­got­ten about in our old age and maybe left in a home be­cause our son will be too busy spend­ing all the money we ac­cu­mu­lated for him with no ef­fort on his part.

The truth is my par­ents, my hus­band and I may be “suc­cess­ful” by th­ese new standards but we are also so much more than that.

My mom and dad were not born suc­cess­ful nor were my sib­lings and I. It all took ef­fort. I love lis­ten­ing to the sto­ries of how they reached the level of suc­cess they did. My dad was once a taxi driver, who lived in a con­demned area in Tem­ple Road, one of the poor­est ar­eas in Dur­ban, and my mom grew up in Inanda where she walked kilo­me­tres to fetch wa­ter she car­ried on her head, while study­ing by can­dle­light.

They lived in tin houses and slept in rooms with count­less other peo­ple and usu­ally ate the same food ev­ery day – mealie rice and chut­ney.

They also had to work odd jobs to earn ex­tra money. My mom even helped her mother clean peo­ple’s houses. Their par­ents did not have money that they could rely on.

Their par­ents were barely sur­viv­ing them­selves, so they had to cre­ate their own pos­si­bil­i­ties and they did but here is where I be­lieve their great­est value lies and my most price­less in­her­i­tance.

They have the kind­est and most giv­ing hearts be­cause they un­der­stand strug­gle and to this day they give so freely of them­selves to ev­ery­one that needs it and I count the hu­man value they left me as my great­est her­itage.

I too worked as a wait­ress, packer in a su­per­mar­ket and even a clown in a garage, while my par­ents strug­gled on their way to suc­cess and you know what it taught me above all else? How to be a sur­vivor. So yes, my son packs gro­ceries ev­ery day in a su­per­mar­ket but let me tell you what his in­her­i­tance is now.

He now knows there is a world out­side of his rich and pres­ti­gious cir­cle. He now knows the value of money.

When we went shop­ping pre­vi­ously he would ran­domly fill the trol­ley with ev­ery lux­ury pos­si­ble whether he wanted it or not.

He now ac­tu­ally knows the price of things and is shocked by what things cost.

He now un­der­stands the dif­fer­ence be­tween want and need. He now has gained a new re­spect for peo­ple, who work in the var­i­ous po­si­tions like pack­ers, cashiers, car guards, petrol at­ten­dants and wait­resses and is now first to ap­pre­ci­ate them.

He now re­spects money like we ex­pect him to re­spect ev­ery­thing in life.

Pre­vi­ously he used to throw the money we gave him any­where in his room with­out a care and then ex­pect more but now he keeps all the money he earns safely in a money packet and then goes with me to de­posit it in his ac­count.

And best of all, he has now learnt how to greet peo­ple, talk to peo­ple from all walks of life and see the strug­gle peo­ple face fi­nan­cially.

He un­der­stands that noth­ing is achieved with­out hard work, time and ac­tion.


Tash Reddy is an en­tre­pre­neur, film and ra­dio pro­ducer, mo­ti­va­tional writer and speaker and founder of Wi­d­owed

South Africa

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