A Lesson in Values

I recently got a lesson in value from my children. Jay and I don’t like to dye eggs at Easter. In our opinion it’s messy, and it’s wasteful. You boil and dye a dozen eggs, hide them a few times, then they end up in the trash. Jay’s mom, however, has a gaggle of geese that are prolific layers. So, every year at Easter, she boils a few of their eggs, wraps them carefully and sends them to the girls to dye. The eggs are huge, and the kids have a blast coloring them. We combine them with the plastic, pop-open eggs that we typically use for hunts and mark one as the “golden egg.”

In years past, I’ve filled the plastic eggs with candy like Starbursts and Hershey’s kisses, and whoever finds the golden egg typically wins $5. This year, however, I decided I didn’t want the girls inhaling all that artificial crud and sugar; so, I baked a pie and some cookies for everyone to get their sugar fix and put gold $1 coins in a few of the eggs, leaving most empty. The golden egg had four $1 coins inside. Then, on Easter day, just as Jay and I were preparing to hide the eggs, I had the brilliant idea to put messages inside a few.

Jay cut narrow strips of paper, and I wrote things like “stay up an extra 30 minutes,” “1 extra bedtime story,” “1 hour of mommy/daughter time,” “choose a movie for family movie night,” on the strips and put them in some of the eggs. There were maybe 10 strips in all. We had to hunt inside this year because it rained all afternoon, which turned out to be really fun and forced us to get pretty creative with hiding spots. With the hunt finished and the baskets checked, we discovered that our oldest found all the eggs with coins and our youngest had all the eggs with strips. That’s when, to our amazement, the fighting ensued. Our oldest got terribly upset that her sister had all the strips, and all she had was the money. “She got everything good!” Breanna fumed. Our youngest just grinned and clutched the strips to her chest. She climbed up on Jay’s lap, “Read them, Daddy,” she said.

Breanna stormed up to her room, and I heard her fling herself across her bed, yelling, “It’s not fair!” But the hunt was fair. I’d followed the girls around and made sure it was fair, and there was absolutely no way anyone could tell which eggs had messages and which were empty. Poor Grace thought she hadn’t found anything except empty eggs until we told her to open them.

I looked over at Jay after Breanna’s stormy exit and said, “Who knew those strips would be such a hit?” Jay just looked back at me wide-eyed and shook his head. After about 10 minutes, Breanna returned, contrite from her tantrum and apologized to us. Then, she turned to her sister and held out three gold coins to her, “Grace, can I have some of your strips? I’ll give you one coin for one strip.” Grace thought about this for a minute and replied, “Two coins for one strip.” Breanna, affronted, gasped and left the room again. Jay and I talked to Grace about sharing and encouraged her to work out a deal with her sister. She dutifully went upstairs with her strips, and a few minutes later both girls returned, smiling, having worked out a deal.

Perhaps it’s a lesson in intangible values, or maybe it’s just an example of how our values change as we grow up, Jay and I thinking the coins would be more valued than the prizes on the papers. Whatever the reason, we received a definitive lesson in our children’s values, and it warmed our hearts.


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