One day, I looked into my 8-year old’s bedroom and saw… a challenge. On every available surface was laid out, with precision, his rock collection, a selection of broken water balloons, a dozen or so Hot Wheels cars that had been run over by the mail truck, four spent ink pens, half of a bicycle helmet, a beach ball with a hole in it, a calculator that was missing the 4, 8 and = buttons, a teddy bear that had been unstuffed and used as a puppet and various other broken or damaged items.
Okay, I was pretty sure who did this, given that it was in one child’s bedroom. The question was WHY?
The inhabitant of said bedroom entered as my mouth was still hanging open and asked “Is Liam coming today? He said he’s going to buy something from my junk store.”
“You’re selling your junk to your friend?!”
“Yep. Do you see anything here you wanna buy? You can pick something before he comes.”
I choked a little at his gall. How do you explain to your child why you shouldn’t sell something that you think is worthless to your friends and family?
I concluded that he got the idea when I had a garage sale several weeks ago. When he asked me “Why are you selling all that stuff?” I told him that I didn’t use any of it so I might as well sell it to someone who can use it. Some of it might have been a little worse for wear, but none of it was broken.
“Honey, you can’t sell junk to your friends and family. It will eventually cause hard feelings. I didn’t sell anything to my friends and family at my garage sale. If they wanted something, I just gave it to them.”
“But who else am I going to sell this stuff to?” he asked tearfully.
He had a point. It’s not like total strangers would just happen to be strolling past his bedroom and pop in to have a look.
Proooobably not gonna happen.
I didn’t want to crush his entrepreneurial spirit, though. After all, he could be the next Sam Walton. He was obviously trying to make money for some coveted item he saw in a TV commercial. Better that he tries to earn the money than beg me for the toy. He knows that never works anyway. Hmmm… what to do?
A light came on in my head. I could kill two birds with one stone. Not literally, of course. There were no birds in his junk sale. If there were, they would have been missing a wing… or a beak… or something.
“How much do you want for the whole lot?” I asked him.
“Yeah, I’ll buy it all.”
“Hmm… I think it’s worth about $300.”
I choked again. So much for entrepreneurial spirit. He was a con artist! “I’ll give you ten bucks.”
As we packed all the junk into garbage bags, he picked up a squirt gun with a broken trigger and said, “I could prob’ly still use this. Are you sure you want it?”
Determined to get the junk into the trash bin, I offered, “You can buy it back for a dollar.”
“You want a whole dollar for a broken squirt gun!?”