Saturday, February 15, 2014

Monkey Business

I’m not sure where we saw a spider monkey, at the zoo, on a television show or maybe I was studying monkeys in school, but my brother and I wanted a monkey.

I was nine or ten years old; he was three years younger. We had moved from our rural home in Missouri to Washington, Illinois. Like most children, I knew that parents needed an occasional manipulation in order to get the answer children desire. Therefore, I was not pleased when my little brother, too young to be trusted to speak for us, blurted out that we wanted a monkey.

Normally this approach did not work well, but our dad didn’t say no. Instead he walked to the kitchen, found a small empty, metal coffee can and walked back to the living room where we waited, confused  by his silence.

“We can have a monkey if you save up for it,” Dad said. “You can put in part or all of your allowances until we have enough money to buy one. As you add money to the can, I’ll add some, too.” With that, Dad pulled his wallet from his back pocket and dropped the first dollar bill into the can.
I know that I had to be grinning from the inside out because I was happy to save for a monkey. I ran to my purse, got out some change and dropped it in. I knew I wouldn’t be able to buy as much nail polish and lip balm as I normally did with my allowance, but that was okay.

As time went by, our childlike commitment waned on the monkey project with contributions dropping to nothing. Good thing, too. What in the world would we have done with a monkey?
Through the years, I’ve thought about the monkey project. I’ve even used it on my own children, from time to time. Instead of saying a flat out “no”, a wise parent supports the ideas and dreams of a child with encouragement and guidance and helping them commit to whatever to that dream means to them. 

It was a good lesson.

7 comments:

Pat Hatt said...

haha I always thought it would be fun to have a monkey too, not anymore. Great way to teach indeed

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is clever! Yeah, do you realize how much a monkey costs? What did your father do with the money - add to your college fund?

JoJo said...

And wouldn't your parents have been surprised if you both had followed through with your monkey savings? lol

Jade Bennington said...

Haha! Your dad handled the situation so well—a lesson in responsibility and a chance to really consider what you want to do with your money.

On a side note, this reminds me of a silly short story sketch I wrote awhile ago about a guy who had a pet monkey.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa .. that's such a clever Dad .. what a good idea. We had to save up for a large item, and our parents would put in half ... eg for a bicycle etc ...

Love this story ... and yes - what happened to the money ... perhaps it's invested and worth a fortune? More like spent at some stage!

Cheers Hilary

Teresa Coltrin said...

Pat, Me either. Don't want to take care of a monkey.

Alex, Of course, I had no idea what a Monkey costs. I'm sure I couldn't have wrapped my head around the real cost.

JoJo, yes, it could have been an awkward teaching lesson for them.

Jade, Have you written your short? I bet it will be an interesting story--I mean this one is and it's true.

Hillary, There's no telling where the money went to, but for sure our part wasn't much.

Phyllis Oller said...

Your father is a very wise man,phyllis