The Boy Who Had Everything

The Boy Who Had Everything

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

The Boy Who Had Everything

Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.

~Kak Sri

When I was a baby, my parents gave me anything I wanted. We would walk into a store, and anything that I wanted was mine; all that I had to do was to ask. I would play with a toy for a while, get bored, and ask my parents for a new toy. Then my dad died when I was two and a half, and I got even more stuff as my mom, friends and family gave me more and more stuff to try to make me feel better. My mom continued to treat me to whatever I wanted until I was seven and my world changed.

That was when the real estate market crashed. My mom had thought that buying houses was a good idea as a way to invest her money to take care of us. After the crash, I went from the kid who got an iPod when his tooth fell out and who had the coolest house to hang out in, to literally having nowhere to stay. My mom’s best friend, my Auntie Loren, took us in until my mom could figure out what to do.

After the real estate crash, when I would ask for a new toy, or bike, or even to see a movie my mom would say “maybe for your birthday” or “I’m sorry honey, but we can’t really afford that right now.” I didn’t know it then, but my mom had grown up in a family where money was never a problem, so this change was as big for her as it was for me. My constant requests for toys and video games were not helping my mom, who was already a widow, deal with her feelings about our new crisis — our financial situation. But I wasn’t used to hearing “no” so for a year or two I kept asking.

Then something happened that would change my way of thinking forever. My mom had been working really hard all year, just to pay for the necessities, like our water and power bills. When she asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said that I wanted a new video gaming system. I didn’t know that it was expensive. All I knew was that my friends had them and that I wanted one too.

On my birthday, I started opening my presents, believing that I would get what I asked for. As I opened the last gift, I found two or three T-shirts and a pair of jeans. When my mom asked me what I thought, I said that I loved them, but she could tell how disappointed I was and she started crying. I hugged her harder than I had ever hugged anyone before. I realized how hard she was working and that she couldn’t afford to give me anything I didn’t need and that most of the money that my mom made went to paying for rent and food.

From then on I didn’t expect to get everything that I asked for. When I did, I was so excited and grateful. I think I learned the difference between what I wanted and what I needed. I learned to appreciate the toys or games I did have and to take good care of them. When I wanted a new iPod, I had to work to buy it. I got a job folding clothes at our local laundromat, and after working there for just over a month every day after school, I had enough saved up to buy that iPod.

The feeling of having truly earned something is one of the best feelings in the world. I also am lucky to have wonderful people in my life. They have made me appreciate that it doesn’t matter what I have or don’t have. What matters more is who I am and who I get to spend time with.

It may have been hard going through that experience, but I was able to learn some really important lessons. Now I am grateful for everything I have and I understand the feeling you get from working to earn something for yourself. People used to think I was “spoiled” because I always had everything and didn’t understand how fortunate I was. Recently, my godfather Ty told my mom that he loved to give me things because I never ask for anything and am always so grateful. I guess I’ve really changed.

~Jackson Jarvis

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