As a parent there are moments where you find yourself repeating history. Every parent has moments where life feels like the movie Groundhog Day. It can sure seem like you answer the same questions, clean up the same messes, wash the same dishes, do the same laundry, every day of your life. While those days are annoying, what I am talking about today is something even more tragic, moments where you are repeating history, except you are now your parents, and your children are you.
One Saturday when I was a kid, probably around the same age as our 7-year-old Zoologist, my parents and I hopped in the car and headed to the toy store so that I could buy a new toy with money that I had been saving. Before we went to the store we stopped at Chili’s for some lunch. I scarfed down my cheeseburger and was all set to head to the toy store – then the check came. Now, it is important to remember that this story was taking place in the early 80s. The world was a lot different back then. People didn’t have cell phones or the internet to make life so convenient. We also didn’t have the Kardashians, global warming, or Presidents who Tweeted, so it wasn’t all bad.
Anyway, when the check arrived my parents realized they didn’t have enough cash. And since this was the 80s, people didn’t always have a credit card with them. Nobody had ever heard of a debit card. For a few brief moments there was a very real possibility that all my nickels and dimes were about to be used to pay for family lunch, not the latest GI Joe figure or Transformer. Thankfully, my parents found a credit card and I managed to escape Chili’s with all my money intact, although I have always claimed to be a little traumatized by the experience.
Fast forward a little over three decades later. I am in my living room, and thanks to the wonderful world in which we now live there is an app for everything and someone is delivering groceries to my front door free of charge. Suddenly, I panic. I don’t have any cash to tip the delivery driver. There isn’t any money in the whole house – except for the kid’s piggy banks. For an instant I stop and remember Chili’s. I think about how many times I have brought that story up over the years to aggravate my parents. I thoughtfully consider how traumatic that day was.
Then I take $5 out of a piggy bank, hand it to the delivery driver, say “Thanks,” and start putting groceries away. I hope I never have to do that again, they’re probably going to need the money for counseling.