Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Theme Day

Maybe it’s just because I’m in the middle of reading a draft of my husband’s latest work-in-progress, which is a defense of intellectual property on the basis of Ayn Rand’s theory of value (!), but yesterday was a day of lessons for Samantha about the value of work.  I didn't plan it that way - it just happened.

First, I told her a Little Bear story.  I tell her stories based on the Little Bear TV show all the time.  I use the characters from the show, but make up stories on the fly.  Sometimes I use these stories pedantically, but sometimes they’re just silly.  I usually don’t know what the story will be until I’m telling it.  Yesterday, she asked for a story about Little Bear's sweet tooth and a piggy bank shaped like a cat (??).  Here is the story I told:
Once upon a time, there was a Little Bear.  He lived with his Mother Bear and his Father Bear, in a cozy cottage in the woods. [This is how the story starts each time.]

Little Bear loved sweets.  Mother Bear said that he had quite a sweet tooth.  He could eat sweets all day long:  cake, cookies, candy, ice cream, pastries, chocolate, pie, hot cocoa – you name it!  One day, Mother Bear said, “You eat too many sweets, Little Bear.  You’re eating me out of house and home, and it’s not good for you.”

“What’s ‘out of house and home’?” asked Little Bear.

“It means that I don’t have enough money to buy so many sweets for you.  I have an idea.  From now on, I’ll make dessert for the family on occasion, but if you want your own candy and other treats, you’ll have to buy them with your own money.”

“But I don’t have any money,” whined Little Bear.

“Hmmm.  That’s true,” said Mother Bear.  “I have another idea.  You can work for the money.  You can do jobs around the house for me, and I’ll pay you money.  That’s what money is for, you know.  It’s a trade.  If you do this for me, I’ll give you money, and you can use that money to buy something that you want.”

“Yea!” said Little Bear.

“Now,” said Mother Bear, “I can only pay you a small amount of money for each job, say, folding the laundry.  You might have to save up your money for a while to have enough for a treat like a candy bar.  I’ll pay you five cents for a simple job like folding laundry.  A candy bar costs twenty five cents.  Do you know how many loads of laundry you’ll have to fold to have enough for a candy bar?”

“Hmmmm," said Little Bear.  [And then commenced a counting exercise.]

“But where will I put my money while I’m saving it?” asked Little Bear.  Mother Bear replied, “I’ll buy you a piggy bank.  I'll use my own money this time.”  [And then commenced a trip to the store where Little Bear picked out a piggy bank in the shape of a cat.]

So for five nights, Little Bear folded laundry.  He took the nickels Mother Bear gave him and put them in his piggy bank.  When he knew that he had five nickels, he opened up the bank, took them out, and went to the store, where he bought his favorite treat:  a chocolate bar.

“Mmmmmm,” said Little Bear.  “It’s soooooo good.  My sweet tooth is happy.”

It was the best chocolate bar he had ever eaten - because he had earned it.

The End.

We’re in the process of moving Sam into a new bedroom.  She is going to get the bigger bedroom of the two kids’ rooms on the top floor.  We figure that when SS (Sammy's Sibling) comes along, the older child should probably have the bigger room.  Adam was putting on the final coat of paint last night, and Sam was excited to help.  (She actually did a great job and didn’t destroy anything, using a miniature roller, and with much supervision.)  But before we went upstairs to help him, I called her over, saying that I wanted to tell her something important.  I said, “Have you noticed how hard your daddy has been working to get your new room set up for you?  All good things take work.  Every single good thing in the whole world takes work.  And you might want to say ‘thank you’ to your dad for all the work he is doing to make your room so nice.”  She did say “thank you” later, but the point about values coming from work was the more important part, I think.

Finally, I read Sammy one of her books she got for Christmas for the first time:  The Wishing of Biddy Malone.  I didn't even pick it out for the evening's reading - she did.  Its theme is that things you get for nothing (wishes) have no value.   (And by the way, this is a beautiful book, appropriate for children Sammy's age, but also much older.  Check it out.)

I liked Theme Day.


  1. Sure an' by gosh, that Biddy Malone is one of me favorites!

  2. Lynne, I can't remember if I found out about this book originally from you. I know it was a recommendation, and I even searched your blog, but your post about it didn't ring a bell as the way that I found it. I also saw that Rational Jenn recommended it on OGrownups, but I think I knew about it before that. Anyway, it might have been you, and if so, I thank you.

    To be sure, it is one of my favorites!