I remember my mom grabbing my $100 pair of tennis shoes I had bought with my money, opening the front door and slinging them out onto the front lawn and sidewalk. I thought mom was bluffing until the moment when the shoes left her hand and slowly twirled in the air. She turned and closed the door, as I started to scramble to gather my hard earned shoes.
I couldn’t believe what happened, but I knew I had it coming. To say my mom is a neat freak might be a little bit of an understatement, and my brother and I had this insidious habit of leaving our shoes all over the house. She warned us, worked out compromises, yelled at us and after what must have been a lot of frustration, threw my shoes out of the house. I got the point, and it wasn’t just about keeping the house clean, it was about respecting what we had. I had worked very hard to afford those shoes; still, I left them everywhere and didn’t take as good a care of them as I should.
To say the lesson of respecting what I have stuck after that experience would be an understatement. It changed me, and I am still trying to figure out how to instill that lesson in my kids. That next summer I bought a fancy backpack with my money, I still use it to this day, and that was 20 years ago.
I have swept up toys, thrown stuff out of the house and even thrown it in the garbage. The rule at my house is: “If it is on the floor is garbage, and I will throw it away.” The boys respond and take care of their things well most of the time. Other times, well…, I still have to go all fast, Spanish, crazy reprimand, which I have learned they find hilarious.
I didn’t grow up with much, so I quickly learned to value what I did have, and my mom made sure I did. As a parent now, I want to give my kids what I didn’t have, but sometimes in that quest of giving them a “better” life, I lose some of the values that made and make my life great. When Lorenzo started playing soccer at a serious, competitive level, I went crazy and kept buying soccer balls for him. It seemed every time we went to the athletic shops we would walk out with one or more new soccer balls. Well, he started losing balls. He began sacrificing balls to strange games in the backyard. Others were left outside for me to find while doing yard work.
I soon realized that in the quest of giving him what I didn’t have, I forgot to give him one of the most important things my mom had given me, respect for what I owned. Now as he has moved up in age group and ball size, he got one ball. I did get him Copa America ball he wanted and was more expensive than the other balls, but he only got the one. At first, the old pattern of forgetting the ball at the fields and losing it, in general, continued; however, slowly, and after a few butt chewings, he has started to care much better care of his one ball. He knows where it is at and is starting to learn how to treasure and respect what he has. Now if I can just get them to pick up the darn Playstation remotes…