Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Used Hockey Skates? Priceless.

Used Hockey SkatesDavid and Spencer love to skate. Their friends all play hockey and we have an outdoor rink within walking distance so when the weather permits--that means anything warmer than 10 below--the boys grab their skates and head for the ice.

The trouble is that they don't have skates. At least not hockey skates, they've got Grace's old figure skates. Not black, but girly-white. From their big sister.

I'm a rather frugal person (Andrew says the word is "frugal" not "cheap") it's my job to budget our resources and I take that responsibility pretty seriously. My philosophy is that it's better if children aren't given everything that they want, that every person--from children to adults--should have things that they long for that they can't have, it's part of being a human being (or at least a normal human being) and staying well-grounded. You know, builds character. Besides, I can spot pork from a clean mile and after nearly 15 years as CEO of this operation I know what's in and what gets left on the Wish List--and it's kept us in the red. Well, most of the time.

So just knowing that even a cheap pair of hockey skates start at $70 was enough to keep the boys from asking. They aren't ready for Wall Street but they know enough to know that $140 can make Mom grumpy and they opted to keep quiet, thinking that hockey skates were a luxury they'd never know until birthdays or holidays hit, and instead reached for the hand-me-down girls skates whenever the urge to play hit.

Normally this wouldn't bother me too much, I've tried to teach the kids not to care about what others think of their sense of style--or lack thereof--but this was different. This was my boys wearing girls skates and it didn't set well with me. Though they never said anything and their friends appeared not to care as I watched them trying to body check each other while wearing white figure skates I felt bad. I'm trying to raise boys (which can be a challenge nowadays) and to tell my sons that they had to wear girls' stuff seemed an uncomfortable change in policy--an inconsistency in parenting.

But regardless of my inclinations or meditations their feet grew and with the increasing complaints of smashed toes my mother guilt also grew until I decided that maybe--just maybe--on this issue I needed to creak open the purse and get the boys some skates of their own.

I hadn't completely divorced myself from my sense of frugality so I took them to Play It Again Sports so see if there was a chance in this entire state of Alaska of finding some decent second-hand skates in their sizes at the end of the season. Unbelievably (though I did say this is Alaska) they had shelves of skates left ranging anywhere from $13-$279.

Two hundred and seventy-nine??? Don't get me started on what those things must have cost new and the obvious, certifiable insanity of any person who'd pay $279, let alone full price, for a pair of used (apparently gold-plated) size 4 hockey skates. Don't they realize little Billy Gates, Jr. will outgrow them in less than a year?

But beyond the probability of science and logic we found two pairs of used skates with plenty of growing room for together nearly half the price of one pair of new skates. They were obviously used--one needed replacement laces and both needed sharpening--but the boys clutched them and hugged them to their chests as if the skates had been worn by the Great Gretzky himself.

Smiling all the way home they said nothing but "Thank you thank you thank you" until, slightly puzzled I asked: "So, you aren't--um--disappointed about having used skates?"

"NO!" They said together.

"Why not?"

"Well," Spencer said, "These ones are great and, well, we know new skates are expensive. We don't need brand new skates. These are new enough."

I smiled when he said this. To have your children realize that money doesn't mean happiness, that material things are fun but not that important, that they don't need to have the latest toy to have fun and to truly know the value of something made me glad to be their mom. They're good kids and it was fun to be able to give them something small that meant so much. Here's to used skates.

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37 comments:

meredith said...

You have two very happy boys who also are learning some great values. We do this with winter coats and ski equipment.

Amber said...

What a sweet story and the confirmation you're doing something right in raising them!

And coming from me (an avid skater),sometimes I'd rather buy used because breaking them in is a BEAST!!

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Fantastic. I love those boys.

Babystepper said...

Man! Those are some mature boys! I really, really want to teach that lesson to my children, but I'm doing a terrible job so far. I love buying them things. It's my weakness (okay, one of my weaknesses).

I hope they don't have the same troubles I did when switching from figure to hockey skates. ie - no toe picks. I bit it a few times before I remembered that I couldn't use those little puppies in front to stop myself anymore. If you try, you just keep right on going.

chelle said...

How incredibly AWESOME is that! Oh how I hope for the same thing for my children. It is such a hard balance for us at the moment. Staying at home, brings our family challenges that most families cannot even imagine. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes, that maybe just maybe if I play these cards right, my children will understand what children totally get ...

I agree with Amber, I remember trying to break in skates! OUCH! And think of all the hockey games those skates have already skated!!

la bellina mammina said...

you have such great kids! I feel bad letting the baby wear hand me downs from their brothers (from 8-10 years ago - but his brothers feel proud that he's wearing their clothes. (don't know why ive been saving most of their baby clothes all these years!!) And now, I've given all the hand-me-downs to my sister for her soon to be born baby!!

scribbit said...

And I should add, lest you think I'm raising some saints or something, that right now they're driving me crazy.

They're in this phase where they are--and I've used this metaphor before so forgive me--like two hedgehogs, locked in combat. They roll all over the floor wrestling, knocking things down, getting into spats and never knowing when to settle down and be serious. Right now I can hear them in their bedroom where Spencer's taunting David and doing the "I can't hear you!" thing and David's getting more and more irritated.

So, I love my boys, they like their skates but it's still going to be a long haul on these two :)

strugglingwriter said...

Great post! I play in an adult hockey league and we have guys who should read this post for themselves, because it seems like they get new equipment every week, meanwhile I'm skating on a pair of $60 skates that might be as old as the ones in that picture (just a little exaggeration :) )

Lisa Milton said...

Lexi took figure skating lessons for a while (until it stopped being fun and started being about getting a private coach, etc) - I was amazed/shocked by the folks that bought their darlings competition (read:$$$$$) boots and blades. When they had been skating for about a month. Insanity.

I love your frugal ways.

Mandalyn said...

It sounds like you are teaching your boys great lessons!! They will grow up to be wonderful husbands and fathers themselves one day!

Prahagirl said...

Good job Mom :) Your boys have learned a lesson that many adults still have trouble with :)

J Fife said...

Congratulations! That is exactly what I hope to someday teach my daughter.

Undercover Angel said...

Good job! I just bought a used pair of skates for my daughter about a week ago. With things like that it's better to buy used because they'll out grow them long before they wear them out.

Macoosh said...

that is such a wonderful story. here's to your skates!

Shalee said...

You're teaching them right, Mama. Just so right...

An Ordinary Mom said...

What an endearing story. You are definitely raising your kids well!

Marie N. said...

A wonderfully gratifying moment for mom and, I'd recokn, a life long lesson your sons will remember as well.

Ally Bean said...

"These are new enough.""

What a great line. Such a good, sensible point of view. You're doing a good job rearing these kids.

Michelle A. said...

Thanks for your story. It's true, kids shouldn't have everything. It's so easy to allow them to have what they want - why is it so hard to deny them? It's great hearing about hour philosphy and the way you input those into raising your children.

Loved the post! And thanks for the reminder!

wayabetty said...

Michelle, I just want to reach out and give you a hug! I can't believe there are Moms like you out there, who I can relate to.

There are so many children out there who are simply spoiled with material things. And I'm glad my children are not one of them.

As an immigrant I truly know the value of money, and I'm trying to teach that to my 3.5 children. One of their favorite phrases is "we're so lucky" even if they got a small toy or a day out with daddy or mommy.

Thanks for this great post!

Raggedy said...

What a heart warming post! I am glad you found a deal. To have children who appreciate is wonderful!
We also have an open rink and it has a little shed near it. The policy in our little town has been to leave the skates that don't fit in the shed. It is full of old hockey and figure skates so that any child who wants to skate can easily find a pair that fit. I thought it was a wonderful idea and we have left several pairs there ourselves.
Thank you for visiting my post about Randy Travis. The song "All my exes live in Texas" is done by George Strait. I haven't done a post on him yet. I never realized that they sound similar until you mentioned that song.
Have a fabulous day!
Hugs

FARMERS WIFE said...

You've really had me thinking today with this post. I read it this morning and it's been with me throughout the day as I'm playing with my babes. You are SO right when you talk about building a childs character when they don't have everything.
I'm so glad to hear moms still prize the quality of their childrens values,over the quality of their skates.
That's something I can aspire to, and hope I can instill the same understanding in my children, ...thanks scribbit.

Leslie said...

uI agree with you - children shouldn't be given anything they want. You're teaching your children a wonderful lesson.

Leslie said...

That "ul" above was supposed to be I. I haven't nicknamed myself ul or anything.

Heffalump said...

I think its great that you could give them something that they want, and still stay frugal. A lot of parents would not do that. Not only are your kids learning about value, but they have also learned that you love them enough to want to get them things that they will enjoy. Some kids miss out because their parents can't afford new, yet still turn up their noses at used.

my4kids said...

Izzak got new skates once but only because my parents bought them for him. He has come to understand that expensive things he has to earn to get us to buy. We have made both the boys earn money by doing things (other then their normal chores) to get money for some of the things they want but don't need. That or Grandma buys it for their birthday whichever comes first.

Blondie said...

You are such a good momma. You have raised them well to realize that spending tons of money is not the key to life's happiness.

Lisa said...

I was thinking about something like this recently. How does a parent raise a grateful child instead of a brat? You've obviously got it covered. Got any tips?

Your doing a fabulous job. Yeay you.

Sandy said...

That's so awesome! Your kids certainly know what's important, don't they?

We actually bought my daughter used skates for her birthday. We just polished them up and bought new laces. She never knew the difference!

chilihead said...

I have re-read this post several times today in my Bloglines. It's wonderful. You are obviously raising some great boys.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I love a bargain! Three pairs of brand new $80 roller blades with the price tag still on them for $4 a pair? Priceless!

My kids love a good garage sale just as much as I do!

PortraitofPeter said...

A proud moment for you at your son's appreciation of cost and understanding.

A refreshing moment in today's "must-have" society.

You write such wonderful "journals" and a daily read is prescribed.

MC Milker said...

great story! I think the concept is excellent and keeps them from being spolied.

DigitalRich said...

Thank you for participating in the Carnival of Family Life 51st edition! It's up and running at DigitalRich Daily.

DigitalRich

Jenni said...

Great post! Sounds like some keeper boys you have there. How old are they? Can you mail me their credentials when they reach manhood? I have some teen girls who have pretty much decided that there are no men left in the world who will ever be worth marrying. LOL! I'm just kidding; I'm not really in the habit of arranging marriages for my daughters. Okay, so I'm *half* kidding.

I was born in Anchorage and lived there until I was 4, as an interesting aside. I got here from Mental Tessarae and I enjoyed the trip!

Klutzmom said...

I'm glad you're raising boys who are learning that new isn't always better and that they can't have everything right now. Good job!

You're post brought back great memories of skating with my older brother. I was the one wearing his old brown and black hockey skates.
The funny part was that when I finally got my own white figure skates I coldn't skate as well in them. I kept tripping on the little teeth on the front of the blades.

Klutzmom said...

Arghhh!

Your not you're.
I started saying something else and didn't get it changed. Or some excuse like that