It’s Not About the Money

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable  ~Clare Boothe Luce


Kyle, accompanied by an excited Scooby, this past Easter morning… I stocked him up on books.. he was excited to start reading! 4/20/14

Teaching life lessons to a child seem to be much harder than I could have ever imagined.  Truly, when Kyle was a baby I used to think, lead by example and that should do it.  Now, I have resorted to actually taking money from a kid to prove a point.  One that I don’t think he’s getting.

About a month ago Kyle and I were in the store.  Previously, he saw these movie and gaming posters that he really liked and wanted for his room.  Great!  “You have money, so buy yourself a poster.”  Was my only response.

On a side note, I swear that soon to be thirteen year old kid always has more money than me.

I stood with him going through the posters, not appreciating the scantily dressed women in bikini’s with up close and person bottom shots, but we quickly got past those.  He considered The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Minecraft and Halo.  Which one he chose?  I have no idea, I think it was The Hobbit but don’t quote me on that.

At the same time, dad asked me to get him some air fresheners for his car.   While we were on location, it made sense to pick up a few fragrant smelling plastic clips too.

Now, for the story of my frustration.  We get to the checkout and I’ll admit, I was testing Kyle, for I put everything together.  I wanted to see if he would offer to pay for all the items, at the very least his poster.  Let’s face it, the total was maybe nine bucks, with his poster being five.

What Kyle did next, totally blew me away.  He stepped away from the register as the lady was ringing us up and never offered a penny!  I thought he’d at least throw in five dollars to cover his purchase.  Nope, he physically stepped back and gave me a look, expecting me to pick up the tab for everything.  I was floored!  Needless to say I paid.


Me, dad & Kyle went fishing on Loyalhanna Lake, mom tagged along. We got the boat out & got it stuck in the mud… 6/1/14

All I said to Kyle was, “This is your poster you know.”  followed by him saying, “Ya, but that other stuff isn’t and I’m not paying for it.”  followed by me saying, “But the poster is yours and it doesn’t seem like your paying for that either.”

We left the check out before I tore into him.  I was totally flabbergasted!  He didn’t even offer to pay for his stupid poster, and not even care about the items for his pap?  The man who gives him everything, treats him like gold, never asks for anything from this kid, except for maybe good behavior.  The man who truly loves him with all his heart who takes him hunting and fishing, makes sure the kid is never without.  The man who goes well out of his way for the happiness of this little boy.  Ya, that man Kyle would not spend four dollars on, knowing that his pappy would compensate him tenfold for the gesture.  Heck, I would have given him the money for just simply offering.  And probably taken him to the movies or bought him another poster as a reward.

Nope, instead of being considerate and generous to those who love him the most, he chose the self-centered, greedy avenue.  One that marked him for life, or at least until the next incident.

As we were walking out of the store, I exploded!  None of us in my family are like that at all.  My brother certainly was never greedy, in fact he was too nice and generous with money, letting others take from him and never paying him back.  Granted, I don’t want Kyle to be that nice, but come on, this purchase was for him and his pappy.  I wasn’t expecting him to buy a months worth of groceries.  In fact, I wasn’t asking him to give up anything, it was the gesture or in his case, the lack of gesture that ticked me off as well as his attitude.

I don’t want Kyle to be greedy, not even close to greed.  That’s why I’m always Warning Against Materialism – Encouraging Dreams  I don’t want him associating with it.  I certainly don’t want him to be THAT guy who expects everyone to pay for him and he won’t even step up to return the gesture or meet halfway.  YIKES!  I hate that type of guy or gal. (not playing favorites)

Then, to make matters worse, I too do for him all the time.  I take him to the movies, to the store, to his piano lessons and I run around extra to accommodate him and his plans.  Not that I’m keeping score, but come on buddy, at least appreciate what you have and try to give back!

Did I mention that the money in his wallet was probably given to him by my dad, his pappy?  Frustrating!

Recently, Kyle called me about two hours before his piano lesson to inform me he didn’t want to go.  Now, I get the reasoning, he had family that was in town and surprised him, and it wasn’t totally his fault.  But he needs to learn that two hours beforehand to cancel on someone is not acceptable.  Yet, he was still planning on going to his baseball game that night.  Let me see, it was that important for him to cancel, and I still have to pay for the thirty minute lesson, but he can spend two hours at his game?  Granted, again there was a lot of political pressure put on him that was out of his control, but he needs to learn appropriate behavior and stand up for whats right.  So I said, “That’s your decision, but you’re paying me for the piano lesson.”  His response?  He cried.  My response?  I didn’t care.  Maybe a little.

Did you know, that kid tried to get out of paying me for the missed lesson?  Yes!  Then, to make matters worse, Kyle misplaced his piano books, so therefore he was not practicing all week.  He waited three hours before his lesson to ask me to look for his piano books at his Gigi and pappy’s house or my house.  Missed again buddy.

Naturally, we couldn’t find them and he had to go to his lessons without any music.  Before it was Kyle’s turn, I made him sit there and come up with a few good solutions to the problem.  Telling him it wasn’t the teacher’s problem, but yours alone and one he needed to find a reasonable solution.   I had to help him with suggestions like, “Ask your teacher if you can practice scales, or if he had other music you could play etc.”  The teacher was very accommodating but I was beyond angry.


Kyle waiting his turn for piano lessons at Seton Hill Performing Arts Center. 9/23/13

Now the lesson not only included wasting my money, but it was inappropriate protocol.  Waiting till we leave for lessons to look for his book, when he should have been practicing all week, not acceptable!   I was more than furious that he felt it was admissible to not practice simply because he didn’t know were his books were located.  And somehow it became my responsibility and not his?  Wrong again buddy!  He needs to be held accountable for his actions.  I told him he was paying for that lesson too and if he thinks I forgot about the previous one, he was wrong.

Now Kyle must have realized I meant business and I was not happy with his behavior, for the next time I picked him up, he handed me five dollars for the poster, still refusing to acknowledge payment for the piano lessons.  I guess that was too steep for his budget, but I didn’t care.  Again, I reminded him and again he ignored my warning.

So now we have missing piano books for another week.  I told Kyle to call me on Monday giving a status update if he looked for them, he waited till Wednesday, the day before his lessons.  Getting better buddy but not there yet.  While we spoke on the phone, I was extremely calm, probably eerily calm for him.  I told Kyle he has a few choices to make, either we stop by the music store and pick up the books, which he has to pay for, or I’m pulling him from piano all together and he has to pay for the rest of the lessons that I pre-paid, about two hundred dollars worth.  I also asked for his suggestions, which he had none.

Kyle was stunned and completely speechless.  He didn’t know what to say or do.   Although, I will give him credit, he started to come up with temporary solutions like, “Aunt Heather, could you grab my old piano books, maybe I could play something in there.”  Good effort, now you’re slowly getting it, but still missing the mark.  Sadly, for Kyle it wasn’t about getting the most out of his lessons, or letting me down or not appreciating the opportunity I gave him with music, it was all about the money, his not mine.  Now I was depressed, realizing the materialism and greedy nature of this little boy.  How sad!  Again, my family would never in a million years act like this, apparently he’s learning it elsewhere.

Long story short, Kyle got out of any decision when I found his books.  And yes, he wanted to place the blame on his Gigi, because they fell into her box of photo albums that no one realized.  Yet, the books where still his responsibility and he should of had us looking long before he did.

This past weekend, Kyle had his wallet on him, the nice chain and leather gift given by his pap.  Would you believe the kid handed me forty bucks to cover the two piano lessons?  I was stunned actually.  No apologies, but he handed the money over to me saying, “Here Aunt Heather for the piano lessons.”  I could tell, he thought I was going to give it back with maybe a speech on being responsible and accountable that sort of thing.

I didn’t waste my breath.  I’ve said it all before.  I simply took the paper currency and said “Thank you.”  His eyes were sad for the loss of money.  I also noticed he did this in front of his pappy, thinking his pappy would do what he normally does and replace the cash.  Dad did no so such thing, knowing the situation.  We’re on to you Kyle!

Now what Kyle doesn’t know, is I’m planning on adding the forty bucks to his education fund.  He’s had that account since he was almost three months old, set up by my cousin Paula, who was Ryan’s godmother, Kyle’s dad.

I do believe Kyle is not a lost cause, he just needs more guidance.  In fact, not even a year ago, someone handed Kyle five bucks for doing a good job serving mass.  That was way too sweet.  Without thought, Kyle immediately gave the money to father for the church.  I was so very proud of him!  It was something he wanted to do and I could tell he felt it was the right thing.  I never steered him one way or the other.  It actually happened so quickly, Kyle already had his mind made up before I knew about it.  He is a generous kid!  Sometimes.

I’m working with him, everyday!  I just need to pray for patience.

Below is a video of Kyle playing the piano with his instructor at the Seton Hill Performing Arts Center.  Normally he won’t let me video him, but this time he did. 10/21/13

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Respectfully Standing Up For Yourself

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.  ~Anne Frank


Kyle digging into his basket on Easter Sunday morning. 2011

The one thing I learned quickly when Kyle was just a little tyke, was that he was indeed a person.  Not a half person, not a non-person, but a real life living and breathing person.  Just because he wasn’t a full grown human being and he had a lot to learn, didn’t make him any less of an individual.

Before Kyle could speak, he knew what was going on and remembered things, even though I’m sure he can’t recall those memories today.  My point is, children of all ages should be respected for who they are, and the person they will become.  Any and all interaction kids have with the world shapes them for the future at any age.  So my question is, why aren’t children treated with as much?

Maybe some are, but Kyle keeps having these situations of disrespect and dismissive behavior pop up, and they are truly upsetting me.  Kyle is being overlooked or worse, totally ignored by adults, complete strangers, in retail outlets.  Yes, I get it he’s a kid, but that doesn’t make what he’s doing any less important, especially if he’s trying to help me out by standing in line or retrieving items.  Common sense should dictate that the kid is twelve and obviously didn’t drive himself to the store, so one would think he has been asked to undertake a task for an adult.

I know these situations seem trivial, and they are, but there’s a lesson I want to teach Kyle now and that’s not to be taken advantage of or walked all over.  However, teaching a kid to stand up for himself, respectfully, which is the keyword, is a bit of a challenge.  At least one I’m facing.

This happened a few times in Giant Eagle.  To help my mom out, Kyle and I will get her groceries.  Great!  Nice gesture.  So in turn, Kyle will help me to expedite our order even faster by standing at the deli counter to get dad’s beef pastrami and cheese.  There has been countless (though not all the time) times adults would overlook the kid, obviously holding a ticket, and jump the line.  Not cool!  I bet they wouldn’t do that if I was standing there, or perhaps they would be that rude.  That’s one situation that annoys me, but the one that really gets me fired up, was the deli guy at Giant Eagle and his blunt disrespect for Kyle.


Kyle at the Fort Ligonier’s Day Parade, in front of the Shriner’s Band. Ligonier, Pa. 10/2010

I was in the check-out isle and I totally forgot dad’s lunch meat.  Yikes!  So what does a gal do?  You guessed it, I volunteered Kyle to go and stand at the deli counter to retrieve the processed salty meat.  My hope was that Kyle would return with the goods before I paid.  However, knowing how notoriously slow they are, I accepted the fact that I was going to have to give Kyle money to go through the check-out while I take the groceries to the car.  No big deal.

Well, in Kyle’s eyes, I’m going through the check-out and he needed to hurry.  Nice gesture buddy!

He stood in the deli line like anyone else, pulled the ticket, like anyone else, and when it was his turn, those waiting in line respected my little man and accepted it as his turn.  Good so far, until the deli guy said to Kyle, “That’s ok, someone else will get you.”  and proceeded to skip over him totally and take the next customer in line.  Are you kidding me?  I was ticked beyond belief!  I didn’t know what had happened until we were out the door.  That was one of those times I wished I was standing right there!  The nerve.

You know people loosely talk about discrimination, well that’s exactly what happened!  I’m guessing he was discriminated because Kyle’s a kid, or perhaps for being a boy or maybe the deli guy knew what Kyle was going to ask for and didn’t want to get it?  I’m not sure the reason but it wasn’t right.

I’m actually a pretty relaxed person, and I don’t even care if people jump in front of me in line, especially if I’m not in a hurry, for perhaps they are.  But I will never stand for obvious disrespect toward me or my family.  Kyle was beside himself and didn’t understand the mean gesture.  He came back all stressed trying to hurry for my sake.

Taking this negative and trying to turn it into a positive, I want to use it as a lesson.  I’ve tried my best to tell Kyle, “Without an attitude you need to stand up for yourself and say, ‘Excuse me but I’m next’ or ‘It’s my turn’, but say it respectfully.”  In general, Kyle is not an assertive person and I get it, there’s a fine line of what a kid is allowed to say, but he needs to stand up for himself!

This didn’t just happen at the grocery store.  O no!  This past weekend, Nicole, Kyle and me went to see Divergent.

On a side note, I loved it!  They really stuck to the book.  I can’t wait for Insurgent!  Kyle and me are fans of the book series (Aunt Nikki didn’t finish reading Insurgent or Allegiant yet).  Kyle actually read them all before me.

That particular movie theater, offered food items, one that caught Kyle’s eye was the soft pretzel.  I gave him money about eight bucks for his pretzel, while Nicole and I sat in our seats.


Ryan, Kyle’s dad bathing in Gram’s tub. Look at that face! c. 1981

Kyle came back a little upset.  Apparently, someone cut in front of him in line.  That was the first thing.  Then, the cashier never gave him his change, correction my change.  My first thought was, “Well, Kyle did you say, “I’m sorry but it’s my turn in line?”  Of course he didn’t.  Then the money thing.  “Kyle didn’t you ask for your change?”  Of course he didn’t.  What is so wrong about that?  I don’t think I was over stepping my bounds of what I expect from Kyle.

Time and time again I keep telling him if there’s an issue come and get me.  Heck, he could have called me on his cell phone from the line and I would have been out instantly.  So basically I paid eight bucks for a soft pretzel with cheese, which really wasn’t the point.

While getting caught up on the pretzel situation, Kyle looked at me, like it was now my job to go out and fix it.  In my eyes it was too late.  Perhaps it wasn’t and I could have helped him out or showed him what to do.  Maybe I too was being too passive.  It wasn’t the loss of money, it was Kyle not standing up for what’s right that really gets me.

Kyle’s dad, Ryan was the same way.  Very nice, too nice to people and many, many, many people walked all over him and took advantage.  Not only as a kid, but more so as an adult.  One day, I’ll call out those who wronged Ryan, you be surprised for they are closer than you think.  Maybe it’s a family trait, for my pappy was the same way.  Just too nice and trusting, if there is such a thing.

I hope one day, and soon, Kyle learns to stand up for himself and always demands respect, as well as gives it.

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

ipod Touch … Within Reach

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.  ~Unknown


While Kyle was texting me, I took a picture of this display in Barnes & Nobles & sent it to him. 4/22/12

This story to me is so unbelievable I had to share it!  My sister and I were just talking about Kyle’s accomplishment and we’re both kind of in shock!  Kyle is an amazing young man, but wow is he resourceful and goal focused!  Let me take you back to this past Christmas and the Family Time Through an ipod Touch.  Yes, I got Kyle an ipod Touch, engraved and everything.  I debated on the size of the ipod verses the price before making my purchase.  It was unanimously decided upon by mom, Nicole, my friend Kelly and myself to go with the 4th Generation 8GB ipod Touch.  I chose the white one since it was different from my iphone and I thought he might like it.  Everyone, including myself, thought it would be good to try Kyle out on the device to ensure he was going to take care of it and to see if he was going to like it, which I really wasn’t worried about either way since Kyle had his Nintendo DS for a long time and was nothing but responsible with it.  So the ipod Touch was the next step in Kyle’s life long journey of upgrading electronic devices.  Well, I didn’t realize he was ready to upgrade so soon, less than three months later.

About a month ago, Kyle mentioned that he ran out of memory on his ipod.  I thought, ‘What the heck?’ and sure enough he had so many games on there it sucked up the space.  What is really amazing to me, it wasn’t even because of music, photos or videos, the memory was sucked up from games!  Holy smokes, how many games does one little boy need?  Well, I can’t say this shocked me, considering all the while I’ve seen monitoring every purchase made.  You see, even though I have an email address for Kyle and he has his own iTunes store account, every purchase is emailed directly to me for my review.  Not to mention I have parental locks on everything so he cannot order games out of a selected criteria and nothing marked EXPLICIT from the iTune store.  Yep, over the months, Kyle has certainly put his iTunes money that he received from Christmas or Easter to good use.  No waste there.  That’s another thing, that account is not associated to any credit card, just to play it safe, I have it set-up so it only accepts iTunes money.


Kyle's piggy bank I made for his 3rd Birthday c. 2003

Kyle has mentioned this lack of memory dilemma a time or two.  At first, I was kind of insulted, after all that was his Christmas gift from me and I had it engraved especially for him.  I told Kyle to be happy he has an ipod and I reminded him it was a Christmas gift.  Kyle cares, I can’t say that he doesn’t, but let’s get real, he wanted the larger device.  After all, I’m sure that’s a big topic between him and his friends, not that I really care what the kids are saying.  It did however bother me that Kyle wanted to add more music, specifically the Star Wars sound tracks but he couldn’t.  Of course it didn’t bother me that much.

Although, I knew I was headed for an argument, or at very least the ipod problem discussion was about to escalate, when I recently walked Kyle to his CCD class a few Sunday’s ago.  We happened to be a little early and one girl was sitting there playing a game on her ipod Touch.  I saw Kyle’s eyes become very interested in what she was playing.  Kyle asked the standard questions, “What game are you playing?” “What’s your favorite game?” and then the dreaded, “What size is yours?”.  NO!  She responded without looking up from her game to answer his questions, including saying it was a 32GB.  Kyle just looked at me like, ‘How could she have a bigger ipod Touch?’

Well as the weeks rolled around, I still didn’t care that Kyle had only an 8GB.  I reminded him that some children are not even lucky enough to receive that much and I didn’t want him to be a slave to material things.  Well, that was in one ear and out the other.  Then, Kyle did the unthinkable.  As we sat down for dinner after swimming, Kyle commented that he was going to free up some space by removing pictures.  Yikes! No!  I don’t like to delete pictures especially ones that Kyle took, I love seeing things from his point of view.  The pictures where of his Lego creations he built and wanted to show me.  How could I let his injustice happen?  Of course I could have just had him download the images to iphoto on the computer and then delete the pictures from his ipod, but it was the point that he chose his games over his digital memories.

Kyle's-Tally-Sheet-Aunt-Heather-PiperOk, I give.  After weeks of listening to him comment on what games he wanted, and the music he wants to download, I finally made a deal with him.  I only did this because he never once whined or complained, he just spoke of his lack of memory in an as-a-matter-of-fact way.  I told him, if he saves up enough money, I will take him to the apple store to pick out the ipod Touch he wanted.  I even said that if he wanted to sell his current ipod I will help him out, but it’s solely up to him.  He had to earn the money and do the leg work, including reviewing the different sizes of ipods and how much he would get for his.  Next thing I know, Kyle was online looking at the different options comparing prices.  He even had an epiphany, he said, “Aunt Heather if I wouldn’t have just purchased all those Legos I would have $120 to spend.”  I agreed and said, “I told you, you might want to save your money for something really big instead of constantly blowing it all.”  Yes, I did it, I pulled an ‘I told you so’.  Just at that moment, I saw the gears moving in his cranium cavity.  He turned to me and said, “Hey Aunt Heather can I take the money out of my pig?”  You see I made Kyle this ceramic piggy bank for his second birthday, and over the years we throw loose change in there or money he randomly earns.  At that moment I thought there might have been 30 or 40 dollars, maybe 50 bucks tops.  Sure.

The minute Kyle got to my parents house he headed for the pig and began extracting the money.  He took most of Friday evening sorting and counting the cold hard cash.  Wow, was I wrong!  There was about one hundred and forty eight dollars!  I said jokingly, “If I would have known that Kyle, I would have drained the pig a while ago.”  He just laughed and was all of a sudden very proud of himself for his efforts and hopeful, that he wasn’t going to take too long to save up for his new purchase.

All weekend, Kyle was asking my parents if he could work for them to earn money.  At one point my mom was going through her old mail and found a Christmas card address to Kyle containing five bucks.  As he kept recovering money, he kept a running tally.  Now getting to the amazing part.  Without my dad slipping him extra money and him truly earning it and finding change, Kyle gathered three hundred twenty six dollars and forty one cents!  In less than a week!  With loose change, money found and some earned!  I could never pull that off but yet a ten year old just did!  Not to burst his bubble, but I had to bring him back to some sort of reality once the final total was discovered.  I mentioned that he had to take tax into consideration because he was going to have to cover that too.  He gave me a sigh, but he understood that he was to raise all the money himself.

As we left, I heard Kyle say to my dad, “Pap pap make sure you get a list of chores for me to do so I can earn money.”  Kyle really wanted to earn his money!  He said to me in the car, “Aunt Heather what are you going to need me to do at your house?”  He usually helps me with the lawn and pulling weeds.  He is determined to reach his goal, and fast.  He is seeing the light at end of the tunnel.  Monday he texted me, saying he was trying to earn extra money around the house too.  You go buddy!  Hard word does pay off!  I am just proud of you for your persistence and hard work.  He is really a goal focused little man.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments
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