What Would You Do?

5 most recent songs on my iTunes:

  1. Silver Springs– Fleetwood Mac
  2. Lonely Avenue– Ray Charles
  3. Summer Wind– Frank Sinatra
  4. I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song– Jim Croce
  5. The Rising– Bruce Springsteen

My children and I have ongoing discussions about life and all the different things that happen to us. About two thirds of those discussions involve their asking, “what would you do” followed by a description of a particular situation.

I love these conversations. They are filled with so much wonder, interest and excitement it is hard not to see these conversations as anything but the epitome of joy. That is not to say there aren’t serious conversations intermixed with the rest because there are plenty.

They have asked me what I would do if my parents died and how I would handle robbers/burglars. When they learned about 9/11 in school they wanted to know if I would fight the hijackers. In the midst of a serious talk my son made me laugh when he started quizzing me about what superhero I would be if I had the choice.

Dad, what would you do if you could be a superhero and fight the hijackers. Would you want to be Batman or Wolverine? Don’t pick Superman because that is too easy, he would beat them all and carry the plane to safety. Don’t pick Green Lantern either because he would use the ring to fly the plane to safety.

My daughter caught my attention because she stayed in the realm of the serious and said, “Don’t play games with them dad. Kill them or knock them out, but don’t give them any chances.

The next 5 songs on iTunes:

  1. No one Lives Forever– Oingo Boingo
  2. Centerfold– J. Geils Band
  3. Secret World– Peter Gabriel
  4. What’s The Matter Here– 10,000 Maniacs
  5. Fire– Jimi Hendrix

One of the challenges of private school is that your children sometimes become friends with the children of the ridiculously wealthy and affluent.  Money isn’t an indicator of whether someone is going to be good or bad. I have known jerks who were well heeled and jerks that didn’t have a dime to their name.

What I am referring to here is the comparisons that your children will make between what they have and what their friends have. For example my daughter went to a birthday party at a house that is best described as a compound.

It is like a country club there. It is beautiful and has the kind of kitchen that any chef would want. That sucker is massive but completely functional.

Anyhoo, when my daughter came home she asked me why we didn’t have an elevator in our home, an intercom. basketball court and a gym. I told her to ask her grandfather what happened to the empire he was supposed to give to me. She made a face and told me that I didn’t make any sense.

Later on she asked me why we don’t go on trips to places like Hawaii, Europe, Costa Rica and Israel. I laughed and said “because you go to school.” That earned another comment about how I don’t make any sense.

That night I sat her and her brother down and had a conversation about why we shouldn’t compare what we have to what our friends have. I told them that if you spend your days comparing yourself to others you will find it becomes hard to be happy.  I also explained that Tommy’s father is a surgeon and his mother is an Endocrinologist and that meant they earned a lot more money than I do.

My son looked at me and told me he had another question. “Dad, if you could go back to school, what would you do? Would you become a doctor?”

I told them that if I could do it all over again I would make some different choices but that becoming a doctor wasn’t one of them. “It is nice to have money but it is not really what makes you happy.”

Things That Matter

One day these rug rats of mine will read this blog. When they do they are going to find out that I use this place to vent. They’ll see that sometimes I pour all of my frustration into this place, but what they won’t read/see is how much better I felt afterwards. So periodically I put little notes in here to remind them that this is cheap therapy.

This is where I come to help focus on the things that matter. When they say what would you do I can say that some of the answers I came up with came from blogging.

And one day when my son is older he can read about how I probably would choose to be Wolverine. Hijack my plane and I am going to poke you full of holes with some very nasty Adamantium claws.

Got to run, my bed is calling my name and now you know what I would do in this particular situation. Night folks, see you all in the AM.

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Comments

  1. Hi Jack, This post really touched me when I read it, but it took me a while to a) get back here to comment and b) find this post. Sorry for the delay!
     
    When we moved to England, the company my husband works for paid for our kids to go to an international school. The school has a somewhat mixed group of kids, socio-economically speaking, though none are poor. The students range from military families to the very, very wealthy families. My kids never paid attention to the wealth of their friends there, which was a blessing.
     
    When my oldest daughter was in 5th grade, one of the girls had a birthday party where the family flew all of the girls to Disneyland Paris for three days. That is, every girl in 5th grade except for my daughter. To make it worse, the trip took girls out of school on a Friday, so my daughter was the only girl in the 5th grade attending school that day.
     
    I was really proud of her. She was brave and never asked me if she could miss school that day. We talked about how hurtful it was to her and how it’s important never to make anyone else feel the way that the birthday girl made my daughter feel.
     
    My daughter learned that day that money doesn’t make for a good friend.
     
    You should self-promote, Jack, if only to share the gift of your prose with others. Self-promotion is generous to others. No need to be stingy in sharing the wealth of your talents! 🙂

    •  @wonderoftech OMG. that is so sad.. What were her parents thinking?  

      •  @AnnieAndreHacks I have no idea. My daughter is a very sweet girl. It was her first year at the school so she was a bit quiet, but she wasn’t mean to anyone. I have no idea why she was excluded, but that should never have happened.

    •  @wonderoftech
       
      Hi Carolyn,
       
      You have done a great job with your daughter. You and your husband deserve kudos for helping to provide a foundation that would allow her to deal with this in a mature fashion.
       
      That being said I want to punch the parents of the birthday girl in the throat. There behavior is so very telling of their character. 
       
      We have regular conversations with the children about what sort of behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. There are a lot of shades of gray and it is not always clear what the right thing to do is in every situation, but that party isn’t one of them.
       
      Anyway, money isn’t a good friend and sometimes it just makes bad people worse.
       
      Thank you for the very kind words, I appreciate and am grateful you shared them.
       

      •  @TheJackB Thanks, I appreciate that. I remember back when I was in second grade, I wanted to exclude one girl from my class from my birthday party because she was mean to me. No matter what I said, I couldn’t convince my mother that it was a good idea to exclude her from my party. My mom said I could either have a party inviting every girl  in my class or I wouldn’t have a party. I relented, the girl came to my party and she was nice to me after that.
         
        My mom set a great example for me, but others don’t have that kind of example I guess.
         
        I was very, very angry at the mom for doing that to my daughter. But perhaps I should appreciate the lesson she taught my daughter? Didn’t I say that in a previous comment? Mean moms make me look good? Somehow I didn’t appreciate her at the time…

        •  @wonderoftech It is a  rough way to use to look good,. but I know that you never planned for that to happen.
           
          Yep, bad parents are good for our own PR. 😉

  2. TheJackB says

    @meganrosker @brucesallan Thank you.

  3. Quite a music selection there, JB!

  4. Great post on the importance of things, less material, in regards to children. Always a tough one. We live in a community that is very fortunate and fielded many of the same questions.

    • Gina,
       
      Money comes and goes- been on both sides and seen it happen to lots of people. I grew up around it. We were never the poorest and never the richest.
       
      I want the kids to focus on family and friends. I want them to remember those who love them for them and not because of what they have. That is incredibly important.

  5. Don’t you just love the questions that kids ask.  Okay, since it’s your kids and they put you on the spot a lot, probably not.
     
    Your kids ask some great questions Jack.  I don’t recall asking those types of things to my parents.  Heck, they never answered us anyway.  Now as I got older I would ask my Dad for advice but he would only give me different ways I could do things.  He never told me what to do.
     
    I still think Superman was the way to go dealing with those highjackers.  I mean the purpose would to bring everyone to safety right!  Smart kids Jack, very smart kids.
     
    ~Adrienne

    •  @AdrienneSmith Hi Adrienne,
       
      I like the questions- most of the time. I don’t mind when they make me think, but there are some that are tougher than others.
       
      The hardest part for me is usually time. They hit me with some questions that require more than five words and it is not uncommon for that to happen at bedtime or when I am swamped with work.
       
      But I want them to always feel like they can ask.

  6. You are rich, Jack, and your children blessed to have you as their dad! Lovely post, it reminds me of similar situation when my daughter asked me those questions and no, I am not going to tell my choice of heroine to save the world.

    •  @Late_Bloomers Hi Barbara,
       
      Thank you. I feel rich in many things, albeit money isn’t currently one of them. 😉 So why won’t you share which heroine you would choose?

      •  @TheJackB Then we have something in common 😉
         
        I think the last time I identified with a heroine was as a child when reading “The Red Zora”, a courageous and rebellious red head, the closest thing we shared was my chestnut hair! Wonder Woman: that steel contraption of a bra would never fit me, Barbarella: no thanks, it was enough that some people called me by that name, maybe Ariel, the little mermaid, because she got away with combing her hair with a fork! 

        •  @Late_Bloomers My daughter would love to get away with combing her hair with a fork. I had forgotten about that part of the movie. Maybe I should hide it, so that we don’t have the whole “brush your hair” fight. 😉

  7. You sound like a great parent. I look forward to having these kinds of conversations with my children. My son’s only 3, so our conversations are limited to answering questions like when we get to go to the zoo. Luckily my son doesn’t yet understand the concept of money and materialism. Though right now that’s a double edged sword as he thinks money just pops out of our wallets whenever we need something.

    •  @richescorner Hi Richard,
       
      My children don’t totally get it yet, but they are slowly getting there. They certainly recognize that I don’t have unlimited amounts of it but that doesn’t prevent them from having unrealistic expectations.
       
      I can’t really blame them. They shouldn’t know what everything costs yet. 
       
      Three is a great age. I loved it when my kids were three, although I have to admit their proclivity to say no to everything got old sometimes. 😉

  8. amcentral says

    I always loved those family discussions – which usually happened over the dinner hour…just before the fight over whose turn it was to clean up.  😀
     
    If I can boldly make a promise, it’s this:  the memories you are building with this type of familial intimacy will have more effect, more root and more endurance than any trip or thing. 
     
    No kid can resist being treated like an adult!  Bravo.  You’re so wise.

    •  @amcentral Hi Amy,
       
      As they say, from your mouth to G-d’s ears. When I think about these same discussions from my childhood I have many fond memories so I think you are absolutely right.

  9. I don’t have kids but I would consider living all over again, definitely, There have been such crappy life decisions that I still feel like erasing them and trying a different way out…I think that is all….

    •  @Hajra Sometimes you look back at some of the things that happened in your twenties and realize that some of the bad stuff was good because you learned something valuable that helps you later on.

      •  @TheJackB  Well I am in my twenties and I have loads of regrets… makes me worry about life further on but then I am trying!

        •  @Hajra  I understand. I had moments like that in my twenties and some in my forties. But when I look back at my twenties I can definitely point to some “bad” things that worked out for me because they provided skills/experiences that I needed later on.

  10. My kids love to dream. 
    And they think most of their friends are spoiled.
    They know that if we had millions, they’d still have to go to school, and we’d choose to live humbly.
    They’d know they’d have to make personal decisions about the quality of life they’d want to live and what it would take to live it. We’d support them however we could without enabling them.
    It’s not good to give them things. But gifts are good.
    It’s good to teach them to work and to serve.
    Money comes and goes. Character is what we’re left with as we work through the ups and downs. 
    Character is the legacy I want to leave. That’s where I find the answers to their questions. 🙂

    •  @CrossBetsy Hi Betsy,
       
      I like that and would do the same. You are so right about money. I have been on both sides. You can lose possessions but education lasts a life time.

  11. Jack,
    I’ve never had the conversation with my kids about what I would do if i could do it all over again. But.. i have had the conversation about not comparing yourself to others. At first it was hard because we lived amoung the affluent vp’s and presidents of companies with porsches and bmw’s all around while i drove an old vw jetta a la 1998. My boys would cringe when they got in the car. Flash forward a few years and now they see all those same people, their friends parents who lost their house, their cars and are living in a humble home somewhere else because they lived beyond their means. Sometimes life has a funny way of teaching a lesson to your kids by accident.  
    ps
    I would be wonder woman. She looks hot and she can kick ass. Plus if things got too bad, i could just flash them and stun their eyes.  🙂

    •  @AnnieAndreHacks You mean you are not wonder woman?! But I thought you were!

    •  @AnnieAndreHacks Silicon Valley had to be good for all sorts of that. I have to imagine that there were a lot of people who over extended themselves and got hurt and plenty who didn’t.
      Life experience is a wonderful tool that you can’t replace. I have to imagine your kids are experiencing that first hand.
      Wonder Woman is hot. When I first really noticed girls I remember not wanting to tell anyone that I wanted to watch the show strictly because of that. 😉

      •  @TheJackB I felt the same way about Captain Kirk. It turned me into s sci-fi junkie and a Trekkie for life but Not those weird ones that go around wearing star trek uniforms. 

  12. Do right what you do Jack!
     
    Happens with all parents I think, especially when your kids are younger and their never ending list of questions, which make us wonder and rethink about them also! But that’s the beauty of being kids and us being parents who need to take out that kind of quality time for them, be patient, and explain things. 🙂
     
    Don’t worry about your kids coming over and reading your blog once they grow up. I think they would only appreciate you and all your efforts more, and be happy to know how fondly you spoke about them.
     
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    •  @Harleena Singh Hi Harleena,
       
      The questions our children ask us are among the greatest gifts they give and they don’t even know they are giving them. It is such a great time to sit and learn together. It has made me a better person.
       
      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it.

  13. “I told them that if I could do it all over again I would make some different choices but that becoming a doctor wasn’t one of them. ‘It is nice to have money but it is not really what makes you happy.'”
     
    Excellent advice.

    •  @Faryna It is no different than what we discussed. I want to do the things that feed my soul and am only interested in money for the help it provides with those opportunities.

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