If you have never seen a fidget spinner, well, you must not have a 6 year old in your life. William has wanted one since his friend first brought one to school. In the old days, we just clicked pens or twirled our pencils in our fingers.
The latest craze is a three bladed spinning toy and the idea is that if you give a kid a fidget spinner, he will channel all his fidgeting to the hand holding his spinner, which is supposed to be less distracting to the rest of the classroom. Except that it won’t matter because the rest of the classroom will be intently watching the kid with the fidget spinner and will not hear a word their teacher says.
Now that school’s out, William’s a working boy. He works on houses with his grandpa. He’s basically a step-and-fetch-it-boy. The job allows him breaks whenever he feels like it, with breaktime snacks and lunches provided. For this, he makes the grand sum of $1 a day.
Now that William is rich, he can make his dreams come true. Luckily, he just has the one dream. He wants one of those fidget spinners, specifically the one that he saw at Kwik Fill that lights up. It costs $7.99 and he cannot think of anything else but that fidget spinner.
Well. Almost nothing. There was a laser pointer that caught his eye, and for the low, low price of $3.00 he could have the cat climbing the walls. That seemed to be totally worth it to his way of thinking and the good news is that he could buy it immediately, having the cash in his wallet that very minute. So he did and lo, in very short order, the cat was climbing the walls and it was good.
But the novelty wore off, and once again, William remembered his first love, the fidget spinner, that light up one at the Kwik Fill for the low, low price of $7.99. He decided that he was absolutely not buying anything else until he got the fidget spinner that he wanted with all his heart and all his mind and all his soul. Except that he went to the playground with his pay in his pocket and managed to lose a dollar. He was beside himself, and called me sobbing hysterically. He had lost a WHOLE dollar and he really wanted the fidget spinner very badly and now he would never get one.
I spoke soothingly of the dollars to be made before summer’s end. The tears stopped, and he began to tell me his big plans to stay up all night playing with his fidget spinner in the dark.
The next day, he cheerfully worked with his grandpa and once again he began to accumulate a stash of dollars.
But then there was this space alien he wanted very badly from the Dollar Tree. He mulled it over and it explained to his mother that it was all right. He would buy the alien and just wait an extra day to get his fidget spinner. He later assured me that he had thought this through. This was not an impulse buy.
Today, he collected another $1 from his grandpa and added it to his little stash. He is halfway to owning the fidget spinner of his dreams and will have it by next Friday. Unless, of course, he sees something else that he can’t live without. Lord knows that the July 4th celebrations are coming up and there will be geegaws a-plenty to tempt him.
It will be interesting to see if he actually achieves his goal or not, and personally, I don’t care either way Whatever therapeutic value this fidget spinner has, I can assure you that it is not a therapy that William actually needs. If he does get it, there is no doubt in my mind that he’ll be fascinated with it for a day or two and then it will collect dust with the laser light and the alien he couldn’t live without.
We’ll let him learn this lesson on his own, right along with the other lessons he’s learning: that work pays off, about delayed gratification, that his personal choices shape his life. He will learn the pride of making own small purchases.
In the end, I think the biggest lesson will be the one he realizes many years from now, when he is a young man and thinking back. What he’s going to remember is Friday night camping, cousin time, arts and crafts, science experiments, and fireflies. He’ll remember swimming and running and playing in the sun, July 4th celebrations and eating vegetables from his garden and the pride of being his grandpa’s right hand man.
He’ll learn, as all wise people do, that the very best things in life have nothing to do with money.