I searched everywhere. In the toys bins, under the sofa, behind a box of waffles in the freezer—but that Little People rollercoaster car was nowhere to be found.
We need that car, I thought. Without it, the carnival set isn’t just incomplete—it’s non-functional! How else was my toddler going to shuttle her mini molded friend down the track unless she had the purple car? Where is that car?
By the end of the day I was convinced the thing grew legs and walked out the door, never to be cradled by my daughter’s chubby fingers again. Irritated, I logged onto eBay and found a used replacement—for $11.95 plus shipping. That price is probably more than the entire set cost originally, but I considered it for a moment. And then my brain snapped back into my head.
Seriously, Becky? You’d pay 12 bucks for a three-inch piece of plastic? There was a day not too long ago when you didn’t have $11.95 in your purse to buy toilet paper until the next paycheck. Now that you’re married with kids and a savings account, is a dollar worth less than a dollar? Where is your perspective, woman?
Like many moms, I sometimes fall prey to the temptation to give my kids everything. I am neither rich nor poor by American standards—I clip coupons, for goodness sake. I’m frugal. I am!
Yet what money I do have I’m more likely to spend on my precious munchkins than on myself. Their toy room is stocked, our pantry welcomes every variety of Annie’s organic Bunnies snacks, and I shell out a small fortune for music and swimming lessons without blinking an eye.
Is this wrong? Not necessarily. We all want the best for our kids. But what is “best,” actually? Having stuff, or having a heart of gratitude for affording and receiving the stuff?
A recent comment from my four-year-old suggests perhaps I’m not instilling the value of stewardship in my kids as well as I could. A few days ago, I caught her seated at the kitchen table, casually snapping all of her crayons in half.
“Why are you doing that?” I asked. “Those are new crayons!”
She shrugged and said, “It’s okay, Mom, we’ll just buy more.”
Yikes. Where did she get that idea? Three guesses: me, me, and me.
Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:19–21).
I really don’t want my heart to be in the aisles of Toys R Us. More importantly, I don’t want my kids to think toys are the real treasures in life. This attitude can grow into adulthood, when we covet the latest electronic gadgets, designer clothing, luxury cars, shoes, shoes and more shoes—as if those objects can fill a void.
How do I teach my kids to appreciate material things? By storing up all the things that aren’t material: love, patience, sacrifice, kindness, sharing, laughter, hugs. Those are the gifts I want to give my kids, far more than I desire to see another Fisher-Price gizmo enter our house.
As I logged off of eBay, I reached for my Bible to seek God’s guidance and to pray for my heart and for my children’s hearts. There, stashed inside my Bible case, a little plastic car sat waiting to be discovered.
Funny, God. You’re funny. This Sunday, I promise I’ll give my kids some extra money for the children’s offering at church—$11.95 to be exact.