The Kids' Garage Sale

by Nellie The Nag


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My two darling daughters started moaning about returning to school right after they returned from summer camp. Moaning but even worse, preparing monstrous lists for things they wanted, needed, just had to have, before going back to school this fall.

Using my eagle eyesight, I reviewed their lists and was surprised to see so many items reappear from last year's lists. Binders, geometry sets, scientific calculators, pencils, pens, note books, paper clips, pencil sharpeners, back packs and new paper refills for all those new binders. Maybe you've guessed my next question? Where is everything you both had from last year? Did all the binders, paper, pens and pencils magically disappear at the end of June? Their reply ( I'm sure it was rehearsed): "Oh mom, don't be so old fashioned. We can't use the same stuff we used last year in the lower grades!"

I'm not totally unaware of how good it feels to enter a new grade with new stuff. But I'm also not an easy touch and these rascals know it.

My solution: For them to hold a kids' garage (yard) sale and dispose of everything they no longer wanted to raise cash for the stuff they do want. We're talking dolls, action figures, records, cassettes, CD's, books, clothing items, wall posters, miscellaneous junk, jewelry, sports gear, (discontinued sports interest) and Archie comics. We made up the street signs together and dad (Terry The Terrible) did the neighbourhood posting. They e-mailed all their friends and collected over $100 each for the full day sale. Their own money, to buy the new things they had to have versus the perfectly reusable things from last year.

Three lessons involved here:

1. Someone's discards are someone else's treasures.

2. Needs versus wants and knowing the difference.

3. Learning about bargaining as they had to decide to part with something at a lower offer or stick to the original price.

Sure, Mom's tough but the kids had fun, everyone went home happy and our family budget dodged a bullet. These are life lessons and in my opinion, a big part of what parenting is all about.


Nellie is a full time wife, mother and nag plus a part-time librarian and writer.

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