My wife and I picked up my step-son from his grandparents’ house after school on Thursday. As is my habit, I asked him about his day. He huffed and started telling us that a kid at school had called him poor and was trying to keep his classmates from sitting with him (like a modern version of the cooties). The frustration was very evident in his voice. At ten years of age, he wasn’t properly equipped to defend his parents’ financial position. Digging deeper, I asked him what had prompted this hubbub. It was a paper bag. Because Carter takes his lunch to school in a paper bag, he is being labeled poor. What has happened to society?
Friday night after soccer, he wanted one of his teammates to spend the night. I had earlier overhead his friend attempting to make other arrangements. Rather than have anyone feel left out, I made the executive decision to let 2 of his teammates come over for an all night battle to save the universe by way of the Xbox.
Mark has been to our home several times. But this was Jeremy’s first visit and after exploring our home, he exclaimed to me in amazement, with Carter present, “Y’all must be rich!” I’m not sure what Jeremy’s family’s financial situation is, but it must not be the best for him to consider us “rich.” We are by no means wealthy by most people’s standards. Comfortable maybe, but not rich.
In just over 24 hours, my stepson had been called poor and rich.
Sunday night, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him and asked him to talk about both incidents. He was still angry at being called poor. “Why does that make you angry?” I asked. “Because I have a computer, a cell phone, and an iTouch” he replied. I continued, “Do you think having those things makes you rich?” He paused. I think he wanted to answer “yes” but something told him it wasn’t the RIGHT answer.
I then asked if he thought we were rich. “No” he answered.
“What makes someone rich?”
Another long pause.
“Lots of money?” he guessed.
Before I answered I had to think carefully, because this was a critical learning moment. What does make someone rich?
“Being rich is having God, family and friends in your life.” It was the best I could come up with and the longer I dwelt upon it, it really is the right age appropriate answer.
I hugged him goodnight and as I was walking out the door, he said “Chris, if that’s what rich is, I’m really really rich.”
Couldn’t have said it any better myself.