Friday, April 28, 2006

Recycling at Tiny Tots

At Ethan's preschool the children have a regular snack time. Yesterday as Ethan's teacher had emptied the juice container and was in the process of putting it in the garbage he approached her VERY upset that she would put something recyclable in the garbage. He was nearly in tears. When I came to pick him up she came up to me and said, "You must recycle at home." She went on to explain what happened and I told her that he had started his own little recycling business in our neighborhood and that's why he wanted the bottle so badly. I gave her one of his fliers. They were SO tickled to hear of his success and gave him another water bottle to recycle. I related the story to Ethan's grandma.

Business owners who belong to the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce mixer have invited Ethan to come and speak at their monthly mixer. More specifically the invitation came from Rich Geist, Director of Public Relations and Sponsorship and his assistant Connie Howard, head of Community Promotion. He is being presented to the community as the youngest entrepreneur/Capitalist that they know. Ethan's very enthusiastic Grandma, who is a member of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, was bragging the above story which inspired the invitation. He is scheduled to speak on the 22nd in June (Thursday) at the Solano County fairgrounds from 5:30 to 7:30pm. I'd like to formally invite any of the Free Capitalists (Rick, Michelle, Gabe, Les, etc....) who have the inclination to attend. I thought it only appropriate for one of you to be there as one of the first members of this great Stripling Capitalist Revolution is formally recognized as a contributing member of the community.

As his official speech writer, I'm still formulating his speech in my head, but I'd like to include the thirteen principles, something about "Earth Camp" (that will play into his recycling quite well), a plug for the Free Capitalist project and still have it be short and sweet. I'll post his speech here before he gives it to get some feedback before the big day. Just wanted to give everybody a heads up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

First time Recycling

It finally stopped raining last week so I decided to let Ethan take his fliers around to the neighbors. We went at about 3pm last Tuesday and not many people were home. He talked to 7 people before deciding he was tired. Two people said no. The first was an old woman who came down the street wanting to know what we were doing at her neighbors house who wasn't home. He gave her a flier. After looking at it for a second she wanted to know what he was going to do with the money, found that part on the flier and said, "Oh. Well, don't bother going to my house." As I recall she doesn't participate in Halloween either.

The other woman who said no said she already gave her recyclables to her brother who was blind.

The other five people said they would participate. I must, a week later, I was nervous. What if they forgot? What if they ALL forgot? I play the "what if" game a little too much ( my detriment)

When we first left the house he seemed more interested in finding snails and bugs along our path. I kept telling him, "Focus, honey, ...focus."

Every single person who Ethan gave a box to not only remembered to leave their "Recycling with Ethan" box out today... they were FILLED to capacity. All of them were displayed proudly on their porches with his label facing the street. A few people even put them on cute little stools to keep them off the ground. It was like he was on an Easter egg hunt. After only those 5 houses his wagon was completely loaded. We took it all down to the recycling place and he got $8.17.

He did it all himself. He pulled the wagon. He loaded all the bottles and cans.

From start to finish it took about an hour. I think if he wants to get more people to participate he'll have to come by another day so he doesn't get worn out or overloaded all on Tuesdays.

I learned something today. Despite all my personal fears, nervousness and "what ifs"... he did it. THEY did it. Everybody did their part and did it well. Ethan didn't ever doubt that he would find his boxes. His only question was,
"Why don't they have a box?" pointing across the street.
"You didn't talk to them, sweetie. They weren't home, remember?"
"Oh. Can we talk to them?"
"Sure! But, we'll have to do that later. Daddy's waiting for us"

I think next week I'll help him write a little note to the neighbors to leave in their recycle boxes.

I took the following pictures along
the way with my camera phone.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Learning the Principles of Prosperity at 4 and 2

Rick has said, “Money is the conceptual realization of value”. I chewed on that for days and after finally having that “ah HA” moment (catalyzed of course by a conversation with Rick) I came up with the following flow chart. (You can click on it to see it better)

This is the third version that has been posted online and The Free Capitalist hasn’t given any feedback on it yet, so please accept it with a grain of salt. For me, however, it’s been very helpful.

Our family has had quite an adventure with using different forms of money and I thought all the parents out there might appreciate the story.

Ethan has already earned more than $20 from recycling with our family the last two weeks and from a church member who got wind (through proud Grandma, People are Assets) of what he was doing on our block and wanted to participate so she left big bags of recyclables on the porch. On Saturday I helped him divide up his money into tithing/saving/spending and then took a trip to the toy store for the parachute he’s been talking about for the last few days.

He saw lots of other things that he liked and wanted but he discovered that many things we’re out of his price range. We couldn’t find a parachute, but he found a shiny plastic sword ($6) that he liked a lot and that he could afford. He was so happy that he wanted to get something his brother would like too. He picked out a little red matchbox convertible ($1). I asked him, “Is this a present for your brother, or are you just going to share it with him?” Share. He made the transaction himself by handing the cashier his dollars (I helped him count it out, of course). On the way out of the store he used the rest of his spending money (50 cents) for a ride with his brother on a stationary car that bounces up and down. (Value=Money->Currency->Fiat->Dollars)

When we got home I gave Hunter (2 yrs old) a treat. Ethan took it away, and I promptly restored it to Hunter. I suggested that if Ethan wanted the treat, why not give Hunter something that he wanted. Ethan traded his new car for the treat and then consumed it all. Hunter was upset after the fact when he saw Ethan enjoying the treat, but he didn’t want to give up the car to get the treat back before it was gone. After the treat was gone and his car had been traded away, Ethan decided he wanted the car back. I told him he couldn’t just take it. So Ethan took his very valuable (to him) sword and traded it for the car. Hunter was eager to make the exchange. (Value=Money->Currency->Barter)

Once Ethan had the car again he realized that the sword was much more valuable to him. Ethan offered the car back for the sword and Hunter refused. Ethan offered his superheroes (whoa!), his favorite motorcycle shirt, but much to his dismay he couldn’t offer his brother anything that he wanted more than the new sword. (Value=Sentimental Value) At the moment of his ultimate frustration I suggested, “Why not offer him a ride on your bike?”
“Hunter, do you want my bike?”
“No, no, honey. Not your bike. A RIDE on your bike.”
“Hunter, do you want to go for a ride on my bike?” (Perspective Determines Action)

Hunter was very excited to go for a ride on his big brother’s bicycle so he immediately gave the sword to Ethan (Value=Money->Promise->Future Usury). Ethan was SO elated that he hugged his brother, told me he loved me and then (most surprising of all) told his brother he could play with his sword when we got home. Wow!

Hunter kept on trying to peddle backwards so the ride on the bike went only about 10 feet before Hunter decided he was done. We took the bike home and went to the park anyway. While we were there Hunter jumped in as many puddles as he could and the deeper the better. (Agency implies stewardship) Ethan ran around vanquishing abandoned sandcastles and heroically battled all the bugs in the grass with his new sword. There was another family there with us whose children gazed LONGINGLY at Hunter jumping in the puddles. Who do you think had more fun? Who got to experience the consequences of their OWN choices? Was Hunter wet? Yes. Did he seem to mind? No, not really.

When we got home I took Hunter upstairs to change his clothes. When I came back down Ethan was nowhere to be found but my bedroom door was suddenly shut and locked. When I went inside Ethan was under my bed.

I told him to come out.

He did.

....You know that look of guilt on a child’s face?

“OK, stick out your tongue.” Chocolate.

Is there any more under there?”
“Can I look?”
“I’m going to look”
“I don’t like you”

I sent him under the bed to retrieve the rest of the chocolate and while he was under there he took another little bite hoping I wouldn’t notice.

After lunch we broke out the scriptures and went over the Ten Commandments in Exodus. I explained how he broke 3 of the ten. Thou shalt not covet. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. According to the law he had to repay 5 times what the chocolate bar was worth. If he had been able to return it unopened he would only have to repay 2 times what it was worth.

Just to be clear. If he had taken the chocolate bar and sat at the kitchen table and said, “Hi mom” when I came downstairs, he would have only been spoiling his lunch. However, because he took it into my bedroom locked the door and hid under the bed I knew that in his own mind he was violating a principle and felt guilty about it.

I had his sword, car and bag of savings money on the table. I explained how the chocolate bar was worth $1. He paid $6 for his new sword, but now it was used so it was probably only worth $5. I told him that the sword now belonged to me as restitution for stealing the chocolate bar. When he started to cry I explained that these were the natural consequences of stealing the chocolate. At that he seemed comforted in the ruling but still upset at himself.

It’s two days later and Ethan wants the sword back. So, today he has been doing loads of laundry for me. I’ve been supervising as he’s gone through the sorting, hauling baskets to the laundry room, putting the clothes into the washer and then into the dryer, pushed all the buttons, put in all the soap and even cleaned the lint trap. At the very beginning when he was sorting he started complaining about how it was too hard and he didn’t want to do it.

“OK, you don’t have to do it”
“Can I have my sword?”
“The sword belongs to me”
Look of frustration
“If you want to do the laundry for me I’ll give it to you”
“I want to do the laundry”

After the fourth load he was really getting the hang of it, telling me he knew what to do and he didn’t need me to tell him what to do next anymore. After each load he would ask if he could have the sword and would tell him, “You can have my sword when you’ve finished doing the laundry.” (Value=Money->Dynamic->Creation). After he finished all the laundry he was so pleased with himself for having done it and also happy to have bought the sword back using his own abilities.

Within the last few days Ethan has bought and sold the same sword using four different kinds of money.
1. Bought with Dollars (store)
2. Sold with Barter (car)
3. Bought with Future Usury (ride on bike)
4. Forfeit in restitution for item stolen (chocolate bar)
5. Bought with Creation (doing the laundry)

The terms I am using here and in the flow chart are ones I have come up with myself. I'm sure there are better words to express some of it and I'm open to suggestions.

I think application of the principles is so much more effective in teaching children rather than trying to explain them using only words.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Recylcing with Ethan Flyer Revision


My only question is on the percentages. Yes, saving is a good idea, but I would recommend that you use 100% to learn money management. Take the 50% and do what you were planning on doing to help him learn how to manage money, donate 10% to a cause he feels is worth while (I'm assuming this portion is tithing which is a principle that children can't learn early enough), but use the other 40% to help him save for a more immediate goal. I remember when my parents talked about my college savings account when I was young it was just as good to me as not having money at all, and when I was finally given stewardship over it at the age of 16 when I started working, I literally spent it ALL. I was forced into saving for something that seemed so distant when I was young, that I didn't learn the virtues of frugality and what savings truly is for. So, my recommendation is to have him save for something that he can further produce results with. Use the 50% for the candy bars and the movies, but use the 40% for working towards a goal that is conceivable to him, but seems slightly out of reach... what that "thing" is will probably be up to his imagination and your approval. I hope I'm not babbling, and I'm making sense. College savings just seems too far out. Besides, if through this exercise he learns to be a producer, he won't having any problem coming up with money for college. Just an idea.

Good point! And thank-you so much for your input Genseng. His having 100% control over the money is very important.
We had a talk to discuss something "big" that is a bit more tangible for a 4 year old. He wants to go to Disneyland! I have some Montessori percentage circles that we used to talk about how he wants to divide up the profits. He wants 60% to go towards saving for Disneyland and 30% for everyday spending. 10% is still for tithing.

However, just saying "savings" on the flier will probably appeal to the consumer mindset of the neighbors.

I also changed it from "Recycling for Ethan" to "Recycling with Ethan". I decided the word "for" sounded a little too passive and victim-like.

Recycling with Ethan

My son Ethan (4) has discovered that in order to get things he wants from the store he needs money. I explained to him that if he recycles bottles and cans that he would be helping the environment. That was valuable to people and so they would give him dollars for it. Our first trip recycling he got $2.01. He was THRILLED! He's very interested in getting as many bottles as he can so I suggested that we ask our neighbors to participate. I've made up a flier for him to hand out to the neighbors on our block.


My name is Ethan and I am 4 years old. I want to help the environment. Rather than throwing your bottles and cans away I want to recycle them. I am starting a recycling program on my block. Every Tuesday I’m going to pull my wagon around the block with my Mom collecting plastic, aluminum and glass cans and bottles. All you have to do is leave your recyclables in my “Recycling for Ethan” box on your porch on Garbage day and I will take them away for you.

My mom is also teaching me about money. Forty percent of all the recycling profits will go directly into my saving account for college. Ten percent will be donated. I am going to learn money management with the remaining fifty percent. Every so often I’ll leave a note and let you know about my progress.

We've got some other things to get done before handing the fliers out next Tuesday (04/11), so before then I'd really appreciate some feedback on the flier, wording, percentages and strategy in general.

Thank you!!!!