Par­ent­ing 911

Real or Coun­ter­feit -Plug Nick­els and Gum­balls

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Trudy Peck

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 moth­er­goose911@ya­

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