Yes, school has started again and for the life of me, I have yet to see the advantage of beginning school until after Labor Day. There must be a reason and for whatever the reason, it hasn’t seemed to improve the standard of education. The United States is 27th in the world when it comes to education and it’s a shame that the State of Tennessee is very low in the ratings in the United States.

Be that as it may, the other day, I had just finished making a batch of my chocolate-triple-infused-chocolate chip cookies, when one of my steady customers came in, sat down, and I could tell from just looking at her that she was filled with troubles. So I brought her a cup of coffee and some of my fresh-baked delights and sat down with her for a talk.

It took a bit for her to say much but then she commenced to crying and after she was done telling me what was going on, I just sat back and tried to come up with something that would be of comfort. The upshot of the whole situation was this: Both she and her husband were working hard. He about fifty-five hours a week and she about fifty herself just to keep their household running. They have a son and daughter in highschool, a big mortgage and they are paying payments and insurance on four cars and a cell phone bill that runs upwards to four-hundred dollars a month. And to top it all off, she had just charged almost two thousand dollars, on her almost maxed out credit cards to get those two teenagers ready for school in the hope that both of them would do more with their time in school and make better grades.

Before I said much, I asked a few questions: Did both of her children need a car if they were going to the same school? Why was the cell phone bill so high? And what had she spent so much money on to get them ready for school? She told me that even though the school bus stopped a few doors away, all her children’s friends drove to school. That her children’s cell phone usage was what cost so much. Then she told me that her son and daughter had to have the latest shoes and such, just like the rest of their friends. I couldn’t believe my ears when she told me that she had paid almost two-hundred dollars for her son’s shoes and a hundred and fifty dollars for a pair of blue jeans for her daughter!

I drank my coffee and ate my tasty delights just to keep from losing my perspective. Once I’d settled down, I listened to her tell me that she and her husband were living from payday to payday and that it seemed that his hours were going to be cut back and she didn’t know how they were going to make it. She also let me know that the whole situation was harming her marriage and that she and her husband were growing apart, bill after bill.

Darlings, you and I both know that her lamenting is not just the odd story, it’s pretty much what has been going on with too many families for too long. So, I asked, “Why are you not being honest with yourself and your children and allowing them to not understand that money doesn’t grow on trees?” She replied, “I want my children to have more than I did and I don’t want them to go without. Or to feel they are deprived.”

I told her that when she was a child, how much did she do without? Did she have two loving and caring parents? Did she have clean clothes and wasn’t she expected to go to school and make something of that time without being bribed with a car and clothes? Didn’t she acquire a good work ethic and learn the meaning of the true worth of things? Had she and her husband not received a good education that had allowed both of them to go to work and provide for themselves? Weren’t there things expected of her?

She wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and said, “Yes. But I wanted more for my children, for things to be easier.” To which I said, “Darling, what more can give to your children but your love, interest, and protection. What more can you give your children than love with honesty and truth? Do your children have any idea that while you’ve been trying to keep up with the Jones’ that the Jones’ have filed for bankruptcy and that’s where you and your husband are heading? And have your forgotten that prosperity can’t be bought, it has to be earned?”

We talked for a spell and when she left, I really understood that she was going home and for the first time, she was going to have, what we of the “Older Generation” know as a “Come to Jesus Meeting!” Yes, I know that I’m old-fashioned but I believe that too many of our children are being cheated out of a future that they will be better equipped to handle if they learn early on, just what it costs to run a household and how they can contribute to the family.

They need to know that just because you wear a label on your clothing, doesn’t mean you are what the label represents. Yes, I know all about peer-pressure and the need to belong, and fit in. But I also know that if you build character in your child, you build character into their futures. And if you give a child, too much of what is NOT important when they are young, they end up not being able to get what IS important when they get older.

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.