Promoting without Purpose

CandyIt was a beautiful and warm day, perfect for long walks and meeting new people. I treaded carefully past the “No Solicitor” signs and came upon a business that flashed me back to my teen years. It was a detailing shop, which was all the rage back in my theater days, but are almost impossible to find today—well, at least quality shops.

The door was locked, so I moved to the next storefront to peddle my marketing pieces. But before I could open the door a little boy ran up to me and said, “We’re here. This is my shop.”

I must have had a perplexed look on my face because the six year old pointed to the door of the detailing shop.

“Your shop?” I questioned.

“It’s inside.”

The boy’s mother came up from behind him holding up a key. She wiped her hair away from her face to bring some semblance of order to her frazzled look. She worked hard to keep her family moving in the right direction.

“I’m sorry we’re late, we had to take care of some family matters,” she said.

The husband walked up with a baby bucket seat in one hand and reached his empty hand of welcome toward me.

“Please come in,” he said. “My son’s talking about his mini-business, just inside.”

“Okay,” I said as I followed everyone inside.

The front office looked more like a playroom than a waiting room for customers. The little boy grabbed nachos from his mother’s hand and sat down in front of the TV next to the curtain drawn display windows.

“You’ll have to excuse the mess,” the mom said. “This is a mom and pop shop and we don’t have anywhere else to take our kids.”

“No problem,” I said with a smile. “There’s nothing wrong with having a family business.”

The dad quickly interjected, ”It’s more like a nursery in here, but it gives our son more family time and we can keep an eye on the little one.”

“I used to have my son creating animations for my business back when he was in grade school,” I added. “Now he manages computer teams, speaks at conferences and makes the big bucks.”

“My son has become somewhat of an entrepreneur in his own right,” the father said. “This is his desk where he sells candy.”

The father pointed to a deep, black walnut desk with piles of boxed candy, cartoon business cards and handwritten receipts.

“He sells candy to help him understand the value of money,” said the proud dad. “He’s made $300 just this week and he’s going to give it all away to help others.”

“Wow, that sounds amazing,” I said. “Who is he helping?”

“We don’t know. He’s just selling right now.” The father paused, glanced out the door at a shop across the street. “Most of what he’s sold has been to a group of guys that work across the street. They come over here every day to buy his candy. They’re really great guys, and customers too.”

“They sound nice, to be able to help your son daily,” I said. “But, how exactly is your son learning the value of money?”

“Well, he’s giving it all away.”

“When I attempted to teach my kids the value of money, I had them take 10% out for charity, 10% out for savings, 5% out for vacation spending money, and so on,” I said. “I wanted them to learn how to manage money and learn of its value in the process.”

“No, he’s going to give it all away,” the father insisted.

“I’m sure there will be a lesson in the adventure for him.”

I turned to the little boy and asked, “Who do you plan on helping with the money you’ve raised?”

The little boy kept his eyes focused on the TV and shrugged his shoulders.

“Pay attention to the man,” demanded the father.

The little boy turned to me and said, “I don’t know.”

The mother chimed in, “He said he’d like to help the kids at a children’s hospital.”

“That would certainly be admirable,” I said.

“He wanted to give all the kids teddy bears, but then changed his mind,” said the father.

“I’m sure that whatever he does, it will be a blessing to the recipient.”

“Get over here,” said the father as he pointed his son to the desk.

The little boy ran around me and stood at his desk. He moved his hand across the candy like Vanna White revealing the Wheel of Fortune game board.

“It’s too bad I’m not a candy eater,” I said. “But it all looks good and the kids you help will certainly appreciate…”

Before I finished my sentence the boy ran back to the TV and flopped into his chair.

I’ve been know to purchase from kid’s sales stands and tables over the years. Sometimes I accepted the product and other times I pay for it and asked the seller to gift it to their next customer or someone in need. But, this candy table was different.

There was no purpose or intent behind the little boy’s candy sales that made it worth my support. Nor was I persuaded to think he was learning from the activity. And, aside from the generous men that worked across the street, I wasn’t convinced the kid even knew how to ask for the sale without his dad’s prompting.

I love to reach into my pocket and help young people who work hard for a cause, but when the moment is void of purpose, it feels pretentious and phony. I don’t like to support people that don’t have their heart in the matter. Show me a passionate person filled with specific intent and I’ll try to support them beyond what I should.

I walked out of the office wondering if I was the first person to withhold support from the father’s educational moment. After all, the cause appeared noble and the kid was cute. But when I turned back and saw the kid’s eyes still glued to the TV, I walked out of the building knowing that my money was going to be held for the next heartfelt project that’ll make a difference in the lives of real people.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

A Father’s Impact

A Fathers ImpactIt’s been a month since my mother passed away. Reflecting on her life is still a daily occurrence for me. Memories are triggered by every item of hers I’ve had to go through when determining its future. Stacks of photos slow me down the most, as I relive the moments that I participated in.

Few photos exist of her father. He died when mom was too young. One person told me she was 14 and another said 9. Both ages sadden me.

My dad died when I was 19. His death made a lasting impact on me. It forever changed the direction of my life. My mom must have had a similar experience, but with a more harsh reality being raised by a single mom in the early 1900’s. I can’t help but wonder how important a dad is to have impacted his family while present and in death.

Tim Ritchey is a father and a dear friend that I admire. During this time of reflection, he posted a note on Facebook that brought a warm smile to my face and trepidation to my soul. He posted…

Fatherhood Challenge Dare:
I was nominated to publish a pic that makes me feel happy to be a father (so I did 19) I am going to tag men that i feel are fabulous fathers. If you are one of them awesome dads, copy the text and paste this to your wall along with picture and tag other fathers. THIS SHOULD NOT TAKE ALL DAY FELLAS!!!!!!!! If I chose you, I chose an outstanding human being, and I am pleased to call u my friend.

I was honored when he called me an “outstanding human being” and “I am pleased to call u my friend.” Coming from a man that quickly earns respect from everyone he meets was a great pat on the back. I felt affirmed.

The trepidation that soon flowed through my bones was not so pleasant. Pictures popped into my head that would work well for a response, but they were all in storage. Having no pictures to express how happy I was to be a father made me question what kind of a father I had been.

I knew what kind of a son I had been because my dad spoke truthfully to mom over the years. Many hints for improvement and compliments of success made it to my ears. I was very thankful to hear my mom tell me just two weeks before my dad died how proud he was of me and how much fun he had when I was around. Dad even loved my work ethic and all the help I gave him fixing up the small cottage we enjoyed.

A few months ago I saw the impact my ex-father-in-law had on my kids. I also remembered all he meant to me, as he was in my life longer than my dad. Yet, my dad’s impact was still greater. It took me years to get past his death because of the values he instilled in me. Not to mention all those times when he was there for me.

I’ll never forget the time I was walking around in a cloud of amazement because of Kim Jones. We were in fourth grade and she was the most fun and beautiful girl in school. We played dodge ball together, built forts in the woods next to school, and played house.

One day when my dad was getting dressed for work, I came into his bedroom to chat about something very personal. I shared how there was a constant stirring inside my belly whenever I thought about Kim. He told me it was because she was a really important friend and made me happy. I agreed.

I asked, with a wide-open vulnerable heart, if I should “go steady” with her. Dad put me at ease by saying that going steady was for people in high school. But he also pointed out that since she was important to me, I could signify it by getting her a friendship ring.

With my dad’s blessings I went to the jewelers and bought a really cool friendship ring. It was really expensive (I think it cost about $8 back then), but was worth the ability to express my feelings through the gift. Kim loved it and said she’d always treasure it. Two weeks later her dad was transferred and she moved away.

I’ll never forget how my dad protected my feelings.

But what about me as a father?

I never had the opportunity to tell my dad what a great job he did in guiding me through that highly vulnerable and emotional time. Nor did I know if I had participated in such a powerful moment when I did the right thing for my kids. The only thing I had confidence in was how well my kids turned out.

My kids are godly, intelligent, self-aware, worthy of respect, leaders, great public speakers, considerate, good listeners, creative, and know how to share great stories. But does that mean the impact I made as a father was a good one?

I love my kids even on those days when they don’t like me. I’ve made lots of mistakes in parenting, but I’ve also seen great results from the qualities I’ve instilled that help them in life. But does the sum of averages adorn me with a ribbon for being a good father over all?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what’s engraved on my tombstone. In the meantime, I’m working hard to figure out how to be an even better grandpa. After all, grandpas make a great impact in their grandkid’s lives too.