Real or Counterfeit -Plug Nickels and Gumballs
When I was a girl, a younger one, my friend and I discovered at a nearby construction site, small round tokens, the size and thickness of a nickel lying around all over the place. These we gathered with anticipation, knowing we could use them in gumball machines to purchase treats to our hearts content. Little matter that they were blank plugs and, if we used them to deceive the machines, someone, somewhere would be shortchanged. The little voice in the back of my head wasn’t very loud however and my friend and I continued to dream big. Fortunately gumball machines took only pennies or quarters at that time and our fake nickels were hoarded and eventually lost. I am now glad that I was never successful at stealing gum with a fake nickel. What has changed between then and now? Somehow my parents and life’s experiences have taught me the difference between gratifying my wishes with counterfeits or choosing reality.
Besides the emptiness of plug nickels, I have discovered that playing a real game with a real person, sitting in a circle on the floor or around a card table, is a building, satisfying experience, often substituted by unfeeling, electronic blips on a screen. When I was in high school, for some reason the administration thought it a great treat to show ski movies to reward students for good behavior. And while it was pretty awesome to watch the talented skiers fly down the mountain, it was a shallow experience next to being out there with the snow stinging my own face and the trees flying by - keeping their distance, of course!
People learn truths about reality and counterfeits through their own experiences. Like the value of working hard for what you get compared to having it handed to you without effort; the difference between texting a hug and getting a real one; or eating cheetos compared to the satisfaction of a nutritionally balanced dinner with fruit and veggies and homemade whole wheat bread. A whole nother book could be written on the realities of true relationships with the whole person compared to the fairy tale fiction of ‘true love’ based on looks, a single exciting experience, the desire to have a girlfriend for show, or simply physical attraction.
Most comparisons between fake and real must be learned through experience.
Parents can, however, teach children through examples of their choices. They can share the wonder they felt while walking through an ice-crystal draped forest (compared to watching Olaf and Sven traipse through one in the animated movie. They can try to describe what it feels like to work and work for something and finally have it come right. They can involve their children in creating beauty in a back yard flower bed and have them turn around and see what a great feeling comes from doing something with their own hands. They can share the experience of fixing a lawn mower and then using the work of their own doing to cut the lawn and make it nice. Mostly, to help children learn the the value of truth versus counterfeits, parents experience life with their children and discuss the feelings and outcomes together.
If you have a real experience to share or questions or parenting concerns, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.