Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yo-yo Lessons (Part 2 of 3)

When I picked up the boys at the end of the school day, all that happy yo-yo spirit was gone. 

Teddy learned his teacher only had 2 free yo-yos to give away, and he did not win the random drawing from 9 volunteers.  To add further insult, he was expected to show up 4 more early mornings to tie strings.  He didn't whine about it, just reported the situation in a matter of fact way when asked.  I let him know his brother had borrowed money that morning, so I would allow him the same option--which one did he want?  He borrowed $10 and ran to get the mid-grade yo-yo.  Same rules would apply--I would repossess at the end of the day until he could pay me back.

When Barley came out, his shoulders were slumped down, and he got in the car.  No bragging or excitement about the new toy, just quiet.  This is not normal for either of my kids.  I asked Barley how his day went, and he said, "Bad."  He reported that the other kids had teased him at lunchtime, telling him he was "poor" and "stupid" because he had the cheapest yo-yo.  He thought they all had the $15 ones or at least the $10 ones like his brother had just bought.

Well, this was certainly a downer.  I tried to extract what life lessons from it that I could for Barley's sake:
  • Did he think we were really poor?  We live in a house, and they have never wanted for food, clothing, or shelter.  They may not always get the best of everything, but we are pretty well off in our middle-class life.  Did he think he was really stupid?  His grades and math skills prove that is not true either.  If you know what they are saying is wrong, then why do you care what anyone says?  He shrugged.  Can't blame him on that score.  Teasing is tough to take even when inaccurate.  It is the public mockery that hurts.
  • The difference between his yo-yo and the fancy one was only $8.50.  Did he think such a small amount of money really meant his classmates were rich and he was poor?  No, he admitted that wasn't that big a deal.  The problem was they had the nice ones, he didn't, and they were making him feel bad about it.
  • What did you do?  He told the teacher, and I learned they made one of the miscreants apologize, but that didn't really stop the teasing.  (This was actually a big win for Barley, and we didn't pay enough attention to it at the time.  Barley went to an authority figure, and even without satisfaction, he did not resort to hitting or physical tantrums like throwing things. )  We told him how proud we were of his self-management in an unpleasant situation.
  • There will always be people who have more, and always those who have less.  Teddy helped by pointing out kids at school that he knew had not gotten any yo-yos at all--either because they couldn't afford it, or their parents wouldn't let them buy any.  At least Barley had one, and Teddy would gladly share his $10 one.  (There are times I am really proud of my oldest child!)
  • It is good to learn to be satisfied with what you have.  I asked Barley to think back to the morning, when it looked like he was not going to get a yo-yo at all.  How happy was he when we agreed I would loan him the money so he could have one all day?  How fun was it to yo-yo with the other kids, up until the time the mean ones started teasing him?  Was it any less fun to play with the yo-yo, just because of their mean words?  Again, Teddy tried to help, by reminding him, "Hey, yours glows in the dark.  None of the others do that."
While Barley understood each of the lessons and messages I was trying to impart, he was still bummed out.  It was the last day of school before spring break, and without $15, he would not be able to get the "good" yo-yo until school resumed.  Teddy and I reminded him this also meant he would not see the boys who had been teasing him, and he could practice with the one he had in the meantime.  Also, this gave him more time to earn the money, and Teddy said he would help chip in too.  That way they would have all 3 types and could share.

Barley thought about this, then asked, "If I earn $15, Mom, can I give you back the NED yo-yo so I don't have to pay you for it?"   Um, nice try kid, but you agreed to the $6.50 this morning because you didn't want to wait.  Besides, what do I want a yo-yo for?  He agreed to pay for both yo-yos.  Having settled on a plan to address the quality of yo-yo he had access to, we went on with the rest of our day.

That night, he put the yo-yo under the lamp to make it glow in the dark.  He had done chores that evening to pay for the yo-yo, and he was satisfied with it again for the time being.  He proudly reported he had yo-yo'ed 170 times that day,


  1. Isn't a yo-yo passe, compared to, um, DRUMS?! - little drummer girl:)

  2. Shhh, Little Drummer Girl, you're giving away next week's blog topic! Things are happening so fast around here, I can hardly keep up! (They're great, btw)


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