Silver Linings From a Hundred-Dollar Heartbreak

silver linings

My daughter lost a hundred bucks the other day and it might be the best thing that ever happened to her.

She’s been saving money for a while now.  I admit with embarrassment that she’s a much better saver than I am. When her grandparents recently gifted her two fifty dollar bills, she responsibly decided to deposit them into her growing bank account, rather than spend them on a vat of white glue to feed her insatiable slime addiction.  (I’m not entirely sure she’s actually my daughter.)

On our way into the bank from the car, I watched her roll the bills into a small wad and shove them into her jeans’ pocket. A flash of insight whispered to me from the wiser part of my consciousness:“You should take that money from her and put it in your wallet…”

I didn’t listen. I let her be in charge of her own money.

As we joined the queue for the bank teller, she realized that the bills were gone. Completely vanished. Somewhere between the parking lot and the bank, that money made its great escape into the hands of some anonymous treasure finder.

She was distraught and for a brief moment, I felt like a negligent mother. I should have listened to my impulse. I should have kept that money safe for her. She’s only ten after all!

Or should I?

That money certainly would have given her a great feeling of satisfaction as she deposited into her growing account. It may have inspired her to continue saving and find new ways of earning even more money. Maybe.

But the despair she felt from losing it was worth more, in terms of life lessons, than a couple of fifties. I could tell her a million times to take better care of her money (do as I say…). But empty words mean nothing- just more unsolicited and overprotective advice from a mother whose wisdom seems irrelevant when you’re ten and you already know everything.

That feeling of utter disappointment and anger with herself will never be forgotten. That’s not a bad thing. Because the only lessons that stick with us are the ones that felt most potent as they were happening. Point in case: no kid whose ever had the impulse to place his juicy tongue on frozen monkey bars in the winter has ever done it twice.

So yeah, I felt bad for her, but not for long. That hundred dollar loss just may save her thousands one day, silver linings at a cheap rate. I can’t say for sure. But who among us haven’t learned costly lessons that paid for themselves eventually?  Next time you’re kicking your own ass for a huge mistake – stop. Instead, congratulate yourself on learning a hard lesson that will make your life easier in the long run.

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