Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life Lessons From an Amusement Park, Part IV

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that kids don’t have any concept of how much things cost.  In many ways, amusement parks use this to their advantage just as commercials on television do.  What can play to the heart strings of a loving parent more than their sweet child asking, “Mommy/Daddy, can I please have one of those?”  The question is what measures have parents taken to be prepared for such questions.

My wife had a brilliant idea a few months ago when our boys continually were telling her that they wanted this thing or that thing that they had seen advertised on TV or the internet.  She told them that they could each make up a list of the things that they want.  It has worked well in that the boys continue to put things on their lists and they either forget about what they have put there, or they emphasize their desire for the things on that list.  Hopefully, it’s encouraging a sense of delayed gratification for them as well, helping them to realize that they don’t get everything that they want and they certainly don’t get it right away.

My wife and I have shared with our kids about our experience at Disney World.  They have been interested and excited to hear about the different things that we experienced and that they hope to experience some day.  Although we don’t know when we might take a trip there, the stories that we tell them are generating an excitement and anticipation of the experience that they one day hope to have.

I grew up the same way, never being able to get exactly what I wanted when I wanted it but having to wait for it.  The delayed gratification was helpful to me later in life, it decreased the number of impulse purchases that I made and helped me anticipate what I really wanted more.  Our society does its best to fool us into thinking that we can and should have what we want now and wait to pay for it.  Credit card debt is probably at a level that our parents and grandparents could never even have imagined.  We have been fooled into thinking that we can have the things that we think we need now and delay our payment of it.  If we pay things off in the allotted time, that’s somewhat true, but if we don’t, we’ll pay a hefty price.

As I mentioned about our trip to Busch Gardens, the lines weren’t incredibly long as it was late in the season, but we still had to wait.  Waiting for things seems to have a benefit though.  There’s the anticipation that I mentioned, but there is also a time to determine whether the thing that is being waited for is really worth the wait.  There are certain things that we might impulsively buy or do that had we had the time we may not have purchased or done.  Waiting gives us the opportunity to really assess a situation and can help us decipher the difference between a “want” and a “need.”

Waiting is helpful not only for buying things, but for doing them as well.  Waiting to get a tattoo might mean that you choose not to spend the money and get one after all.  Waiting to get married might save us from making a wrong decision that could result in pain later on.  Waiting to make a decision on something can help us to accumulate wise counsel from people whom we trust before making the decision.  While not many of us really like to wait, waiting has a lot of benefits.

One of the rides that my wife and boys went on last week was a scary ride.  They didn’t know that it was scary until they were already on it, and by that time it was too late.  I don’t think that my boys suffered any irreparable harm in riding it, but it certainly taught us a lesson: get a description before you ride.  Some amusement parks will give you a brochure with a brief description of the rides and what to watch out for, we didn’t have anything like that at Busch Gardens, but it sure would have been helpful.

Life is like that too.  Many times, we walk into things of which we have very little description.  There’s no rule book, no description, and sometimes, no one that we know who’s been there before.  Even if we find someone who has experienced a similar situation, they are not us and we all face different experiences in very different ways.

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  There will always be situations that are new to us, but chances are, someone, somewhere has been through similar situations before.  When we surround ourselves with people who are wise, we will be much better prepared for these kinds of situations.  Of course, it’s not a foolproof approach, but it can sure help to eliminate some of the unknown.  Couple that with actually taking advantage of waiting through our circumstances, we can learn a lot.  Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow, will we take advantage of it or not.

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