Here at the mission, as part of a way to reach out to the kids, we are allowed to have them stay on Wednesdays after school for the afternoon and evening. This past week we had 2 of the high school girls over. We played a game after our chores were done and then moved on to making popsicle coasters for cups. One of the young ladies was ready to paint hers. So we got her the necessary tools and she promptly put about a coin dollar sized amount of several colors of paint on the paper plate. For Jana and I’s coasters we used nickel size amounts of paint.
At first I wanted to say something, but I decided not to. We could put the extra she didn’t use back into the bottle, no problem. So she started painting and got several colors on. She was waiting for it to dry and she took her brush and began to swirl all of the colors on her plate together. I was a tad shocked and all I could see was a bunch of wasted paint.
Her colors made a weird brown and she began to add a lil to her coaster. Then she took paint and added it straight to the coaster, not putting it on the plate. I’m sure by the time she was done, she had added another inch to her coaster in paint alone. When she finished, the coaster actually turned out sort of cute. It had a rustic-y look with extra colors. She had a lot of fun making the coaster, start to finish.
I realized, the wasted paint didn’t matter. The smile on her face and the memory she made did. Sometimes in the moment, all you can see is the waste someone is making or what they’re costing you by using this material or this tool. What we need to focus on is the memory they are making, the smile they see on your face when they proudly show you their project. The encouragement they receive from you will last far longer than the scribbled picture or paint smeared coaster.
What I have written next is taken from the movie Me Again. So if it sounds familiar, that’s where you’ve heard something like it.
In 2013 the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is $245,340. If I did my math correctly, it comes to $1.50 per hour. For a buck 50 per hour, you get to watch one of the most wonderful miracles God has ever created. For one dollar and fifty cents an hour, you get to be a hero when you heal a scrapped knee with a band-aid and a kiss. You get to be the star of a little life, shape, mold, and guide that little life to become the best he or she can be. For $1.50/hour you get to have faith building talks with your teenager. Trust me I’m sure there were somedays my mom would have paid someone to take me away rather than raise me during my teenage years, so I’m probably not winning you over with those thoughts. But in the end, raising a child, whose life you’ve impacted over those 18 years, seeing their struggles, victories, failures, and successes, is it worth $1.50 per hour? I don’t know, you do the math.