Last week I drove my daughter on an east coast college tour (1500 miles, 8 colleges in 6 days.) We started in North Carolina eating BBQ and enjoying the Southern culture, went through Washington D.C checking out the shopping in Georgetown, saw beautiful horse country in Pennsylvania and upstate NY and headed down into the bays and coves of Connecticut filled with sailboats.
We had some great conversations in the car, but one stuck in my mind. It was something I never thought about, and when I first heard it I thought it was a terrible thing to have taught her. She said, “Dad, one of the great things you and Mom did was never tell us how much things cost.”
Whoa, when I first heard her say that, I thought she meant that we raised a spoiled kid who had and an unlimited sense of entitlement. For a minute it was a pretty depressing thought for a parent. But on further questioning what came out was a bit more interesting and rewarding.
She said, “Dad what I meant was that growing up we loved when we traveled. And I remember staying in everything from little motels to big hotels and resorts, from National parks in Alaska to trips in India. And as kids we never had any idea which was cheap and which was expensive. Now that I’m older, I’m starting to know what things cost. And I realize you guys never told us we had to enjoy something any more or less because of the price. It made me realize that the goal is not to get the most expensive things, but to go and get what you enjoy.”
It was a lesson we never intended to consciously teach.
It made me wonder how many other lessons we taught without knowing.