Is It Worth It?

snowconesThe dog days of summer are upon us, and in our family, that usually means one thing – snowcones!   For several years now, our family has owned and operated a snowcone business in the tiny, tourist town of St. Michaels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Ken and I support the business by maintaining the stand, ordering product, and financing the equipment; but the daily operations, inventory, record-keeping, etc. are all done by the girls.

I am often amazed by the number of children these days who do not have a summer job.  Our girls have been working the stand since Morgan was about nine years old.  And while it sounds like fun, it’s hard work.  The daily set-up itself is a real chore, and there’s no respite from the sun or heat.  On some days, the line of families stretches down the whole block, and whichever girl is working needs to keep moving hand over fist as quickly as she can to satisfy her waiting customers.  It’s demanding, boring on slow days, but overall, very rewarding.

Recently a girl in Morgan’s class called her spoiled because she owns both an iPad and iPhone.  Morgan rebuked her saying she paid for both items and pays the monthly fee with her own hard earned money.  When we travel, any and all souvenirs that the girls want, they have to buy.  The number one question they have to ask before making any purchase is “is it worth it?”

That’s the same question that Ken and I ask ourselves every spring when we dig out the machine and assess the shape of the cart.  The answer has always been a resounding yes.  Every time the girls deposit their money into the bank, they do so with the great satisfaction that they earned every penny of that money.  Every purchase is carefully thought out, and big items are saved for only by dividing up their earnings into savings and spending so that they are always putting at least half of the money away.

As with most things, the girls have grown up and are starting to move on.  This summer, Morgan does more babysitting than making snowballs, but she’s our backup when Katie can’t work.  Rebecca has worked for the past two summers at a law firm, gaining the experience she will need in her future career, but she, too, jumps in and works the stand when needed.  So while many of the other teens my girls know will be sitting by the pool this 4th of July weekend, my girls will be working hard.  Is it worth it?  Ask Rebecca tonight after she finalizes the purchase of her very first brand new car.  We think it’s worth every hard earned penny. But more importantly, it’s worth every lesson learned, every hot, sweaty day in the sun when not wanting to be there isn’t an option, and every time someone remarks on what the girls have and they can be satisfied in knowing that they earned it.  In a world where young people spend most of their time lazily lying around, playing video games, and doing things that get them into trouble, at least I know that my girls are learning the value of a dollar.  Yes, it’s worth it.

Larger Than Life

10-pics 5This Sunday is Father’s Day here in the States; and all over the nation, families will gather around the grill to celebrate their dear old dads.  For some, this will be a joyous first time celebration, and for others, it will be a bittersweet day of remembrance.  Mother’s Day has become such a commercial event with flowers, chocolates, and cards, but for many girls and women, there’s nobody in the world like our daddies.

I was so blessed to have two father figures to look up to when I was growing up.  One was my wonderful, supportive father, and the other was my larger than life grandfather.  A big man with piercing blue eyes and a hug for everyone, Granddad literally and figuratively stood above all the rest.  He was everyone’s friend, the one everyone counted on for help and guidance, and with only an 8th grade education, one of the smartest men I’ve ever known.  In my book, Crabbing With Granddad, I described him as “a large man, tall and muscular…. [with] skin the color of an old copper penny…. His hands were hard and calloused…. [but] to me, they were the gentlest hands in the whole world.”

We lost my grandfather to cancer when I was 18, but he will forever live on in my heart (and in my daughter, Morgan, who had his eyes and his name).  He was the life and breath of our family, and he will always be missed.  I know that my own father, when he reads this, will not ask why I have said all of these wonderful things about Granddad and not about him.  He will just nod with a smile and tears in his eyes and agree that Granddad touched his life, too, and became his best friend from the day he and Mom said “I do.”

Amy and Dad

But in saying that, I have to pause and tell you that my dad is quite special as well.  He is a man of deep and abiding faith, unfailing love, and endless support.  As I told him on my wedding day, he is the wind beneath my wings.

So to my grandfather in Heaven, my wonderful father, and my loving husband, I say happy Father’s Day.  May you always know how much you all are loved.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site