A lesson in delayed gratification

One thing I wish my parents had spent more time on with me was money management and economics. Things may well be different now. Don’t get me wrong and, as I have explained before, I’m not destitute, just careful, having had my fingers burnt.

I don’t want either of mine to struggle in adulthood (what parent does?) so I see it as a priority to prepare them for the fiscal demands of the world.


At the end of these school holidays, we’ve had an action packed week that has left us all tired. We’ve also depleted most of the essential groceries and she has asked for some modelling clay, so off to the shops we go. While we’re in there she spots a must have toy cat, that now has her attention. She asks for it, but it’s slightly more expensive than the clay I’ve found.

Hearing the answer no, she breaks down.

We finish the shop with her in tears and I miss most of what I came for, as I’m tired.

In the car, I tell her that if she cleans her room, and helps her brother clean his, I will give her some pocket-money.

Back at the den, she sets about the task. I’m doing the weekly clean too and they’re pretty used to the routine.

As I pop outside to the bin, I almost step on a tightly folded piece of paper, secured with a bright orange loom band. I take inside and unravel it. It’s a handwritten note;

“Dear God; would you please can you get me the toy cat. Signed ———- Amen”

As a relaxed Christian, I’m touched by this and put the note in a safe place for prosperity and to protect her innocence. As I go back upstairs, she runs into my room.

“Daddy, daddy! while cleaning my room I found exactly £3! it’s enough to buy the cat!”

That’s fantastic darling! It’s like your prayers have been answered!

She stares at me..

“How did you….never mind”

This got me thinking. However it had happened, her prayers had been answered. This is now an interesting premise. I’d made her a deal in which she would trade her labour for financial reward – that’ll sound familiar to us all.

I’d also resisted the temptation to just buy it for her, especially when she broke down in tears, but in my eyes that would be wholly wrong. Ok; she’s only 7, but when is a good time to learn about delayed gratification?

The lessons she learns now will stick with her for life. Effort and reward; what drives us to push ourselves to achieve our goals in life. If it’s handed to us, we’ll eventually come to expect it. Hello dependency.

I reassure myself that this act is neither small nor petty. By the time she recognises the value of the lesson, it’ll be second nature.

More racing

As it transpired, the cat was £5, so our second trip to the shop also ended in tears. Luckily, the clean-up offer still stands.

Looks like the Lord doesn’t believe in a free lunch either.



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