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A Penny’s Worth of Thoughts: Collecting Valuable Moments with your Children

The glimmer of sweet, sweet coins

Nothing makes me happier during a run or a walk than catching a small glimmer in the street. A small glimmer that is of the round variety…paper doesn’t shine. I turn my feet that way hoping that it’s not another shiny candy wrapper or a smashed bottle top…I’m hoping it’s a cold, hard coin. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful dollar bill or twenty as it flaps in the wind. But you let me grab a sparkling coin and I just got a booster power in my step.

One afternoon I came across a pile…no, a hill of coins just off the sidewalk that equaled $11.52. I wonder how many people walked by and didn’t even bother to look up from their phones. Or how many saw it and thought it wasn’t worth picking up. Technically you would have to pick up just over 1000 pennies an hour just to make minimum wage. However I loaded my pockets and my running shirt with coinage and walked very loudly home. What a prize to behold!

Economics 101

I was a psychology and English major in college, so I only had to take two classes in the Econ building. What I remember is that nothing is inherently valuable. It gets its value from what someone is willing to pay for it. A diamond is just a stone and dollars are just paper until someone puts value to them. The same can be said about lost change. Picking up a penny isn’t probably the best use of your time economically speaking. But when I took 8 years worth of lost change to the bank it cashed out to over $70. I’d stop and pick up $70 if I found it in the street.

Can anyone spare some time?

As my kids have approached their early adult and late teen years, our time together has become compressed. A ten-minute car ride here, a quick Target run there, a quick supper so we can get our homework done….those moments are precious. I remember days, not long ago, when I would dream about the day no child would have to touch me or talk to me endlessly about Thomas the Tank Engine or insects. I didn’t want to know every single thing that was coming in their little brilliant heads. Just a few minutes and 15 years later, I long for a moment to have them cornered to find out what classes they have this semester or what they think about the global warming.

What is time worth?

As a family, we are lucky to have great relationships with one another. We just don’t have the luxury of time now. These are the times of advanced classes, high school sports, intense friendships, after-school jobs, college applications, scholarships. A lot of things that I hoped I’d prepared them for. But it leaves little time for moments to catch-up, tell each other a joke, demand a hug, or go on a shopping trip.

It’s snowing time…Hallelujah!

This recent intense snowstorm was pure bliss for me. Just the six of us home, with nowhere to go and school and work cancelled. The precious gift of time delivered in our laps with hot cocoa and whipped cream. We laughed, we played video games, we made snow ice cream…and most importantly we valued each other. The time equivalent of a pile of change!

A penny saved is a penny earned.

After 23 years of this mothering gig, I see the connection between the found change and parenting. For a long time, I was pouring it all into my kids; my mind, my free-time, my energy, and my money hoping to invest in their future.  If they eat right, they will be strong. If they read more, they’ll be smart. When they find their niche, they will be well-rounded humans.  If he achieves this award by 15, he’ll be set for college. Many times my enthusiasm for my kids’ future lives put a damper on our present lives.

I did not value the occasional impromptu dance party or pajama day or ice cream for supper nights. I didn’t look at the brief moments…the pennies as important, so I let them pass. Now I look for the small change moments, I savor them, I do not let them pass me by. Because one day, I will gather up those brief moments and cash them in for a tremendous relationship with some wonderful adult children.

Dawn Miller

Dawn is a small-town farm girl who married her mountain man after college. She's a mom of 4 amazing kids and 3 beautiful fur-babies. Having her degree in psychology and English, she pursued social work after college but soon became a SAHM and homeschool teacher. Now that her kids are all older and in high school or college, she has started over with a career in yoga and Christian meditation through Everyday Dawn Yoga. Beyond her family, she loves coffee, dark chocolate, running trails, Jesus, and laughing hysterically until she pees.

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