How do a window-cleaner and a nurse manage to feed and clothe seven children? There were so many of us. In our family everybody had little jobs to do. We all had to help out from a young age. Money was always going to be tight. But what Mamma and Dadda could not provide in a material way, they more than made up for in imparting lessons for life…wise and healthy habits for a life-time.
I still remember Dad training me to wash the car for the first time. When he told me he wanted me to do it…I was chewing gum, I put one hand on my left hip and held out my right hand and demanded “fifty pence should do it!” Dad glared at me. He said, “this time you won’t receive a penny, partly because you have been cheeky and partly because I am going to help you so you know how to do it. But from now it will be your job to do it every weekend and I will give you £1.”
Dadda managed to teach us some vital lessons about money. Dad would buy chocolate and if we wanted to eat it, we had to buy it off him (paying a bit extra than the price he had bought it for). Dad reasoned that if we wanted to buy it at a cheaper price, we would walk to the fifteen minutes to the local newsagents, which would go a long way undoing the damage of the chocolate we bought. Without taking away our choices, he decided to make it a bit more difficult for us to eat rubbish. Clever Dad – just one of his many clever little ways.
My sister did so much better than I did. Mandy saved her pocket money and bought clothes and she looked after them very well. I went through a stage of spending my pocket money on music and sweets. Eventually I learn to do the same as Mandy (partly because she refused to lend me her lovely clothes!)…but it took me much longer to learn to be prudent with my pennies. With guidance and training, I also learnt to look after what I owned because I would have to replace my own clothes when I ruined them.
Then there a lesson I will never forget…and looking back retrospectively, it makes me marvel at my Dad for being such a wise man. It was my first summer with my own radio. I loved listening to music. Before I had my own radio, I used to take Dad’s car keys, climb into the car and turn the key just enough for the radio and electric items to work, without starting the engine. I sat there listening to music for hours…and ran the car battery flat…I did it twice before Dad realized I would be better off with my own little radio.
Oh how I loved my radio! There was a daily competition which captured my youthful excitement and enthusiasm. I think if you heard three specific songs in a row you had to call the number advertised and if you were caller 252 you won. You would win £1000. They gave away £1000 everyday. I never did win, but when the phone bill came…OUCH OUCH OUCH!
Dad showed me the phone bill…I could not believe my eyes. Pages and pages of me ringing the same phone number at a premium rate over and over. I spent a lot of money on trying to win…around £400. What did Dadda do? What do you think he did? I had to pay it back effectively by not receiving my pocket money for many many months.
This experience taught me never to gamble. I still pull a face when anyone talks to me about buying lottery tickets, or playing bingo, or having a flutter…Nooooope!!! Never liked the taste of any form of gambling since my bitter experience as a 13 year old.
Which is what Dad wanted. He had big money troubles as a young man. He became engrossed in horse-racing and other sports. Lost a lot…won next to nothing. He stopped gambling before he married my mum, but he still found it difficult to be strict with his pennies. However, he managed, and I take my hat off to him for how well he did.
I wonder whether he was partly motivated by wanting to teach his children how to view money and what it can buy. All his kids are fit and healthy and able to earn a living – and appreciate the lessons in life we received. Retrospectively looking back on my childhoood…aaaaaah!…
…all of the lessons in life from my parents…I feel rich…I feel so immensely wealthy. They have set me up for happiness on a vast scale. I have a treasure chest of lessons from Mumma and Dadda that keep helping me take wise steps.
I have to admit, the more I put my retro-spectacles on and bring back into my mind the lessons in life Dadda and other family members taught me…I am full-up of love and appreciation and respect for the loveliest window-cleaner in England! My Dadda.
Wisdom is priceless. Far more value than gold!