Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the green-eyed monster

One thing I've noticed lately is that people my age are starting to get really nostalgic about their childhoods. Perhaps it's that we're getting close to the age of procreation, or perhaps it's just that we're reaching the point in adulthood where we long for the simpler times that youth provides. Either way, I had to laugh the other day when a twitter friend posted the following tweet: "Do they still make learning games/tv shows for kids like Magic School bus or Carmen Sandiego? I feel like I was smarter w/them than I am now" (Note: Magic School Bus is available for instant streaming on Netflix. Watch it. It will make you happy.) I have thoughts like this often and lament the dearth of educational programming for today's children. I'm turning into one of those crotchety old women who starts stories with, "Back in my day..." :)

I'm not sure how (perhaps she is a sorceress), but my mother taught me to read by age 3. I've always loved reading, and as a child I could sit down and devour a book faster than most adults. I absolutely LOVED The Berenstain Bears series. For those of you who are unfamiliar, how dare you! Read them right now! Wait, that's not what I meant to say (although it's true). For those of you who are unfamiliar, the books chronicle the lives of a bear family-- Papa, Mama, Sister, and Brother Bear-- and always have a good lesson at the end. The lessons are always applicable to young kids, but, more often than not, they're also applicable to grownups too. Case-in-point: The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster. The synopsis (from Amazon) is this:

"Sister can't believe the gift Brother gets for his birthday--it's the biggest, shiniest three-speed bike she's ever seen! She may not be big enough to reach the pedals, but she wants that bike! The evils of jealousy become clear in a nightmare in which a green-eyed monster convinces Sister to prove that she can ride the bike. But look out! Sister--and the bike--are headed for trouble."  
The moral of the story is that if you let jealousy get the better of you, you often get hurt. The character (?) of the green-eyed monster has always stuck with me; it seems to be an apt description for the power that jealousy can have over a person. It's almost worse as an adult, because you can rationalize arguments better than you can as a kid, and you have the freedom to just DO something if you want to badly enough. No permission required.

I found out yesterday that another work friend is pregnant. I am absolutely overjoyed for her. After all, this means more snuggly babies in my life to hold and not lose any sleep over! However, the green-eyed monster creeps in sometimes. Sometimes I just get tired of being responsible. I mean, I don't need to pay off my loans before we have a baby. People have babies with mountains of debt all the time! I would love that baby so much! And smell its little baby head! But I know that the plan that C and I have is a good one. If I were to get pregnant right now, after a couple of months I would feel a lot like Sister Bear on her brother's bike-- out of control and unable to reach the pedals.

When I was a kid, the green-eyed monster would strike quite often. I didn't understand why I couldn't have the cool-kid clothes or a Nintendo. When my mom would tell me we didn't have the money for it, that just didn't make sense to me. "But MO-OM!" I would say, "[Name omitted to protect the innocent] has a Nintendo! And they live in an APARTMENT! That means they have less money than us, right?!" My mom never took the bait. She would simply tell me, "People spend their money on different things, Marcie." That lesson has stuck with me all of my life. Once I got a little bit older, I realized that my parents didn't give into my every whim because they were busy paying off their house. Before I got into college, they had paid off their mortgage, and that gave them the freedom to do a lot of things.

Paying off my law school loans before we have kids will give us the freedom to do a lot of things too. If I decide that I only want to work part-time, we will (financially) have the flexibility to make that happen. If we decide that we want to send our kids to fancy private school, that might actually be an option instead of just a pipe dream. But most importantly, C and I will have actually put our money where our mouths are, and we can teach our children about fiscal responsibility by example. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it is pretty gratifying.

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