Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Offer Good While Supplies Last, Selection Varies by Learner

I'm a store circular shopper. Every week, I pull out the sales circular and I base my weekly purchases according to what is on sale.

When you shop this way, you start noticing things. For example, I can usually tell when certain items will go on sale during the year. End of the year/beginning of January you will see a lot of organizational items and diet food. Right before Spring, cleaning items are on sale. June is for sunblock, July and August bring sales on school supplies and September brings sales and coupons for many breakfast cereals. I usually stock up on my baking chocolate and flour in October and November, when baking supplies go on sale. To everything there is a season. Some things have more than one season.

The one thing you can be assured of is that no matter how wonderful an item is, it will either 1) go on sale, 2) end up on the clearance table, or 3) if it isn't a grocery item, it will eventually end up at either a thrift shop or a yard sale. Clothes and fitness equipment are the easiest to find in the third category, but I did get lucky this weekend and find a yard sale with a comfy computer chair so that I no longer need to commandeer one of our kitchen chairs.

The key to finding what you want is patience. Let me tell you, patience is not a virtue of our modern society. The "I want it all and I want it now" attitude permeates our life and it is reinforced by advertisers who create a false sense of urgency. And I'm not just talking about products. In our area, camps start signing up in January. If you want to get into the "right" camp, you had better do it in the winter, because the good ones have no room by May. Planning on college for your preschooler? Better make sure they get into the right kindergarten. Wait--kindergarten? Too late! You should have signed them up for the fast track daycare before you conceived! And speaking of college, have you made sure your child is in enough activities? You'll need that for their application. Make sure they can play at least one instrument. Suzuki method? How old is your child? Six? Too late! Formal instruction begins between the ages of three to five. The same is true for language. How do you expect your child to be completely fluent in a second and third language if they haven't been exposed to several languages as a baby?

Team sports, dance, gymnastics, scouts...the cry is the same. If you haven't started them early, they will be locked out or they will never be as good as they MIGHT have been. And if that isn't enough stress for you, they need to keep their grades up as well, because those tests are coming up, and they're important. Better hire a tutor. If their class grades and their SAT scores aren't in the top ten percent, they will never get into the "right" college, which means they will never get into the high paying job that will allow them to continue the cycle of consumerism that makes this country tick. Don't worry though. There are lots of tutoring programs available. If you have the money, they will be happy to help you. Just remember, you need to do this NOW, before it's too late!

Ouch. I think I stressed myself just writing those last two paragraphs. Time for a reality check. It is never to late to learn. Physically, you might not be able to abuse your body the way a child can, but that doesn't mean you can't take up a sport or learn a new skill. It is definitely never too late to improve your mind, learn an instrument, or take on a new hobby. I learned to do a cartwheel when I was twenty. A friend of mine learned to play the mandolin as an adult. Learning is not something that should ever be finished. It should be a lifelong process. What stops many of us is the idea that it wouldn't be worth it. We won't be able to make money from it. But making money is not the sole purpose of learning. Learning is brain exercise. It is the challenge that helps us to continue to grow throughout our lives and gives us a reason to get up in the morning. It keeps us flexible so that we can deal with any changes that come our way. And it is available whenever we are ready to take advantage, not for a limited time only.


Kez said...

Someone in our homeschool group was talking about a book by John Holt called Never Too Late. It details his attempts to learn cello at the age of 40 - I really want to get hold of it. I have to say I'm having fun learning martial arts and fiction writing at the age of 40!!

Inner Elder said...

There is so much food for thought in this blog. No wonder kids are overweight and more prone to early stress related disease. And you are so right about continued learning. Even into the later years - 60's 70's 80's and beyond! We continue to learn but in a different way. And maybe we even have more time to pursue new interests. Love, Mom

Amanda, the Head Nut said...

You are so right. There's a fine line between helping children pursue their interests and pushing an agenda. I'm happy to say that we've taken a decidedly more relaxed approach (after freaking out about not doing enough), but it still worries me sometimes. :)

Angie said...

That stressed me out reading those two paragraphs. Thank you for the much needed perspective. It is easier to learn when you're motivated, too!

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