Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mussar from Farmer Boy

This is a brief synopsis of my favorite scene to date in the Little House series. It's from somewhere in the middle of Farmer Boy.

Almanzo is at the 4th of July celebration in town. His cousin brags that he has a nickel that his dad gave him and he uses it to buy lemonade. He dares Almanzo to go to his dad and ask for a nickel. Almanzo claims that of course his dad would give him a nickel (but he doesn't really know since he's never asked). His cousin does not believe him. So he goes over to his dad to ask, reluctantly, for a nickel. His dad pulls out a fifty-cent piece and asks him what it is. Almanzo answers correctly, but then his dad says he wants to know what it really is. He talks about all the work it took to make $0.50 worth of potatoes - the harrowing, fertilizing, plowing, planting, re-plowing, hoeing, digging, and storing. Half a bushel of those potatoes brings in $0.50. That's the real meaning of the fifty-cent piece. He gives the money to Almanzo, and tells him to buy a pig and raise it and have it raise a litter of pigs worth $5.00, or go and buy a bunch of lemonade and drink up that $0.50. Of course, Almanzo chooses not to buy the lemonade.

Some of the reasons I loved this scene...

His dad gave the lesson but left the choice up to Almanzo.

Almanzo has the chance to really impress his cousin, but he foregoes that opportunity.

It makes one really pause and think about the true value of money.

I think this was just one of those often-elusive Perfect Parenting Moments. :)

(Mussar, at its most simple level, means "ethical teaching.")

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