I sent Andrew to school with nine dollars for the Scholastic book fair. The books are normally just a few dollars each, so I felt he would be able to choose two or three books. I gave him no instructions, but wondered to myself if he would come home with some selections for his two younger siblings. I hoped that he would do that without my encouragement. He has done it before. I looked forward to showering him with praise when he returned home victorious.
He leapt off the bus with a huge smile on his face that afternoon. He was brimming with joy. He couldn’t WAIT until we got all the way home to show me what he bought.
He did not buy a single book. Well, except for the one with the pop-out paper cars, which barely has any instructions to read.
I was incensed. Anger might even describe my reaction. I didn’t show it.
“Mom! Look! I bought this really, super cool poster! Isn’t it so sweet?! It was $4.50.”
“Wow, Honey. That is some poster. It was $4.50?” I looked at it nodding my head to disguise my sadness. It wasn’t even a full-sized poster, and had been quite damaged on the way home on the bus.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I said nothing. I ranted and raved internally. All I could think was that my child had no idea of the value of money. He wasted $4.50 on this ridiculous poster.
He talked about it while we ate our snack. Then, he ran upstairs with it.
A few minutes later, he beckoned me upstairs.
I walked in the room and saw my son’s very first big kid poster hanging on his wall. The black and purple poster hung right between his sister’s dresser and the childish stoplight we had bought for the room when Andrew was two years old. It was hanging on his wall, not my wall.
There it was.
It isn’t a pin-up. It isn’t a potty-mouthed rock band. It is just a car.
Seeing the black-background poster hanging on my son’s wall all the sudden made the whole room grow up. The fire engines on his comforter laughed at me. The sweet, little boyish watercolor of a helicopter hovered on the wall like a lonely spring bird that forgot to fly south in the fall.
Reading is Andrew’s favorite subject. And, when my children see full bookshelves with ‘nothing to read,’ we visit the library. I wouldn’t dare deny my children books. Books in our house are like sand on the beach.
The poster transformed his room in a way I could never imagine. It is something “permanent” to him, not like a book that is read and finished. Books are free at the library. The poster seemed valuable, well worth the $4.50.
It is his poster, on his wall, in his room. It is a sign of age.