I Wish We Were Rich – Rambling Thoughts on Money and Choices

Monica wants – has wanted – a Nintendo DS for nearly two years. This has not happened, mainly because Ren and I are uncomfortable with yet another electronic gizmo (especially such an addictive gizmo) in the hands of our video game loving daughter. While we would approach such a purchase as (another) opportunity to teacher all things in moderation, that particular lesson gets taught on a regular basis with the iPad. No need to add battles.

This week Monica again mentioned her desire for a DS. We politely told her it wasn’t going to happen. And then, somewhat wistfully, she said:

Awww, I wish we were rich.

I’m still chewing this over 5 days later. To some extent, it felt like a familiar, cliché moment. What person doesn’t fantasize from time to time about a world where money is no longer an obstacle to whims of desire? To entertain the “what would you do if you won the lottery” thought.

On the other hand, her statement also felt a bit surreal. Because, let’s be honest here, we are rich when compared to all the world standards (a particularly poignant fact made clear after catching glimpses of hard poverty in her home country).

We’re certainly not limitless wealthy. Raising a family is a constant lesson in economics (one that warrants future posts). Scarcity, especially time and money, is always a factor. There is only a finite amount of you to get things done. And there’s only a finite amount of dollars to use towards any given goal. One of the blessings of the middle class is that you have choices. But you still need to make a choice. For example, Nintendo DS or gymnastics for the month?

I suppose that’s why I’m still thinking about this days later. I let her comment slide (I think I even laughed). “We don’t have money for that” is, sometimes, an easy way out (especially because it’s rooted in some truth). Explaining why we spend money on some things over others is a harder conversation, usually because it involves morally gray areas and uncomfortable truths even for adults.

Not to mention if you’re a follower of Jesus, there’s a whole extra layer of complexity when it comes to wealth. Because, you know, He had some things to say about poverty.

Much of parenting (or, arguably, much of life) boils down to getting my children to ask some variation of these questions:

  1. What are/were my choices/options?
  2. Why do I want to make a particular choice?
  3. Is that choice wise?

Question three is the hardest and requires experience, be that experience from others or personal experience (which requires age!).

To be clear, I’m probably over thinking Monica’s comment (she really wanted to play some Mario). But her comment provided an opportunity to reflect.