Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pennies, Planes, and a Proud Mama's Heart

Caleb's Kindergarten class has been earning pennies in class for various things from good behavior to turning in homework since the beginning of the new year.  Every other Friday, they have a chance to shop at the "Treasure Store" and spend their money.

For the past several months, Caleb has had his eye on a particular rubber band projectile that shoots planes for sale in the Treasure Store for a bargain price of $1, or rather 100 pennies.  Now, when you earn pennies one at a time, it can take a mighty long time to save up $1!

I have seen Caleb come back week after week, not making any purchases at the Treasure Store as he saved up his pennies for what promised to be an amazing prize....worthy of his patience.  Every week, he would report to me how many pennies he had saved toward his plane.  One Friday, he splurged and purchased a tootsie roll, which I'm guessing cost him a penny or two, but he continued to hold off on the temptations of the other toys. Finally, months later, the day arrived when he had over 100 pennies. The countdown for Friday's Treasure Store visit began.

When the day finally arrived, I picked Caleb up from school, having forgotten that it had been the big Treasure Store day.  I looked in the rearview mirror to see Emet wearing a pair of blue star sunglasses; and Caleb a pair of orange ones. For Sissy, (Anna Ruth), Caleb pulled out 2 beaded bracelets.  He and Emet had pencils, and all three children had a lollipop.

"Oh!  Today must have been Treasure Store!" I exclaimed. "But, Caleb! I thought you had been planning to get your plane!"

"Isaiah H. had $1 too, and he got it first."  Caleb explained.

"Were you disappointed?" I asked.

"Yes." Caleb said.

"Did you get angry?" I asked, curious how he might have responded to such a let down in class.

"No." he said quietly.

My heart squeezed know, that feeling when you hurt for someone else. I began to play the scene in my head, feeling my son's disappointment on a much anticipated day.  Yet, here he was, after months of diligently saving and waiting for that little airplane shooter, having experienced and processed through the disappointment, and then having chosen to move on and abundantly bless his siblings with a surprise of treats and toys.

What a sweet and special afternoon surprise it was for Emet and Anna Ruth.  They sweetly thanked Caleb and happily played with their new belongings the entire car ride home.  Caleb was a bit pensive, and quietly absorbed my praise as I told him of my pride in his choices and acknowledged his disappointment, all while choking back tears myself.  As a parent, your child's pain and disappointment becomes your own.  Perhaps it is in this that we are allowed to experience a bit of God, to share in His pain, and to understand just how He feels about His own children.

At age 6, I could have expected tears of anger hiding a heart of sadness.  I could have expected him to tell me how it wasn't fair, or to purchase a whole bunch of things for himself, or to keep saving his money until something better came along.  You see, as a parent of 4 little children, I do spend much of my time breaking up arguments, and redirecting the selfish behavior of my children.  But, every now and then, I get to see deep within the heart of my kids.  This was no exception.  What I got to see today, was the beautiful and giving heart of my son....the son I know him to be deep inside - even when he is being naughty.  I saw a kind and giving child, who showed self control, allowing  his friend to enjoy his new toy, even if inside he was sad and hurting from a big disappointment in losing something for which he had saved for so long.  I saw a big brother that thought to bless and take care of his little brother and sister, when he could have thought only of himself.

I guess this is one of those times as a parent I just have to step aside and let the reality of life do its work in the molding and shaping of my child's character.  Things don't always work out just like we plan for.  Sometimes we have to be disappointed.  Woe to the child who is shielded from all sadness or disappointment until adulthood.  Their fall will be all the greater when it happens.  And it will, eventually.

But I don't think I could be any more proud of my son than I was today.  There are bigger things in life than pennies and planes, to be sure.  But I was given a great gift today that will be remembered through 1,000 sibling arguments.  I'll remember it along with those handful of other such events that provide a glimpse into the core of the precious soul I am helping to refine.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ann Ordway: Saleswoman Extraordinaire, Peddler of Wares, and Owner of a New Hot Dog Stand

I think I was traumatized to sales in my teenage years by going to a poorly executed candle party. I felt pressured, trapped, guilty and embarrassed for not purchasing anything.  Overall, it was an awkward experience I did not care to repeat. happens, and I did end up getting the privilege of repeating it a few years later.  Same song, second verse.  Somehow through these experiences and a few others, I think I developed the overall impression that salespeople were obnoxious....especially the home sales kind.

Fast forward a few years, and I graduate from Pepperdine University with a degree in International Business.  I felt accomplished and ready to take the world of international business by storm.  I prepped my resume and the great sales pitch began.  "Take me!...22 years chock full of honor roll, A's, internships, and world travel.  I'm the best candidate for the job!"  (Somehow, this type of selling seemed perfectly reasonable.  After all, I was selling me!)

I did land a pretty sweet job with a top consulting be laid off one year later with a load of other new hires with the great technology bust of 2000.  A few months later, I was hired by another consulting firm in Oregon for which we moved shortly after our wedding.  The self selling continued, but this kind of selling was required for day to day job performance and promotions over time.  Right?

Somewhere in this time, I went to another at home "sales" party.  Except this time, I was sold. I fell in love with the product being "peddled".  I purchased an item or two and reviewed the catalog often planning my next purchase.  The more I used the product, the more I fell in love with it.  Ultimately, I signed up with the company to be a, gasp, "Sales Representative", because I could not only get the starting kit for $100 (which included a much higher value of products than I was paying), but I could also now claim a discount for my own purchases!  Wahoo!!!!!

But don't worry, I didn't sell anything.  I continued to shamelessly promote the product and its many benefits and uses.....touting how it had completely changed the way I cooked and baked.....BUT...when people would ask me if I sold the product, I would say, "No.....Well, I'm actually a rep...but I don't sell the product."  They would look at me oddly and say...."Uh...ok."

Several people suggested that I actually should sell for the company, but my answer remained the same, "No...I'm not a salesperson.  I don't like to sell things."  At one point, I began giving everyone my discount because somehow that made sense to me.  So long as I didn't make any profit off of the product, it was ok to "sell" it, right?  It was more like I was simply sharing it not selling it.  I would give the product for wedding showers, birthday gifts and the like and I would feel inside like I had given them a golden treasure!

Now, I'm no Albert Einstein, (this may now be obvious to you), but I recently did start to put something together....scraping back to my business training on the topics of supply, demand, and general entrepreneurship.  For instance, if someone was presented with the opportunity to run a small hot dog stand on Wall Street that was guaranteed to net a killing in profits, there are few of us who would bow out gracefully and object based on our general dislike of "sales". Rare would be the individual who thought themselves too good to sell a hot dog if virtually guaranteed to make money!

Yet, here in front of me was a product I was passionate about, had been using for nearly 10 years, owned most of what was in the catalog, had a stream of interested individuals asking me about it.....and I continued to decline being a "Sales Rep" due to my general dislike of sales.

Honestly, I'm not sure what exactly was at the root of my resistance.  Did I feel it was somehow beneath me?  Would all of my friends feel pressured to host a "party" or purchase my "products"? Was it simply foolish pride that got in the way of making a profit selling something I love?  Who knows?

But in the end, a few conversations with a good friend pushed me along the path to saying, "Yes. I am a Representative of the Demarle at Home company, and I would be happy to host a Cooking Demonstration, sell you a product, or send you a product catalog.  And if push comes to shove.....I'd be happy to roast a hot dog or two as well."

It's called capitalism folks, and in the won me over too.
After all, my kids want to go to Disneyland just like everyone else's.

PS....And if you're in the market for a Vitamix, I can sell you that as well!  :-)