Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Through the Generations - by Cara

My son has been learning about the value of coins in school. To help him with his homework, I took out a basket of coins we use to throw our spare change into, and started laying the coins out to show a visual description to assist with one of the homework problems.

All of a sudden, my son noticed something interesting. He found a Wheat back penny among this basket of coins! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Wheat back pennies, instead of a picture of the Lincoln Memorial on the back, the words, “One Cent,” are inscribed.

I found this remarkable for several reasons. First being that Wheat back pennies are so rare (they were minted only for 50 years, between 1909 - 1959), secondly because I started my own collection of Wheat back pennies when I was around my son’s age (I must have close to 50 of them by now). Thirdly, because now my son wants to start his own Wheat back collection.

The fourth interesting reason is that my son spotted a bag of pre-started coin rolls and wanted to use them to roll the coins. When my father was still alive, I would give him our basket of loose change and the paper coin rolls, and he would spend enormous amounts of time putting the change into the respective rolls. He would then take the rolls to the bank and cash them in for me. He always took such pride in what he did and felt a sense of accomplishment in rolling those coins for me!

Now that my father is gone, I find it fascinating that my son wants to assume that same exact activity. As tedious as it is, both my father and son get a sense of accomplishment from rolling coins. We told our son that if he lays out the correct number of coins to fill a roll, correctly identifies the value of the coin roll, and then fills it, my husband would take him to the bank to “earn” his keep. It is a motivating learning experience.

But I have noticed this about my son; he has my father’s quality of enjoying working on tedious projects. I used to give my father all sorts of projects I just found too tedious to take on, and he would gladly do them all! The one I miss the most is ironing! My father used to iron our clothes because between a toddler and 2 rambunctious dogs, I didn’t want to risk having the iron accidentally pulled off the ironing board and scorching someone. So I would happily give all of my ironing to my father to do! I’ve become so spoiled, that now it’s become, “dry clean only,” in this house. And I rarely buy 100% cotton!

But back to my son and his new obsession. I find it fascinating that my son has not only taken an interest in something that I also have an interest in. I find it equally amazing that he has also embraced the “joy” of rolling coins, just as my father had. I continually find it amazing how you see not only yourself in your child, but can also see close relatives, with all of their “quirks,” in your child. How remarkable. And what a gift. And now my son has 2 Wheat back pennies to start his own collection! Such an unexpected treat!

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