Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 113

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 42
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 17
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 12


Although we all enjoyed our lives, my wife and I took our role as parents pretty seriously. We worked hard to try to teach our two kids lessons that would guide them through their lives in a positive way. Even though the income from my two comic book stores was substantial, we didn’t want to spoil them with lots of material things. They learned that they would need to plan and save to buy the things they wanted to have. Mal and I consistently tried to teach our children by example, so we would demonstrate and explain to them about avoiding unnecessary debt. Overall, both of our kids seemed to understand the concept of saving up to buy what they wanted but for some extraordinary large purchases that seemed as if they couldn’t possibly be obtained we offered to pay for half. So it was with Adam’s first car.

Our friend, Kevin, had decided to buy a newer car so he offered his 1986 Chevy Celebrity to Adam for only $600. Kevin usually took good mechanical care of his automobile and was meticulous about normal scheduled maintenance so we felt that this would be a very good first car for Adam even though the body of the car had quite a bit of rust on it.

Adam had gotten a part-time job as a cashier at a large grocery store in Hudson, Massachusetts and, up until this point, either Mal or I would drive him to work and then go back to pick him up when his shift was over. Several supervisors had told us that Adam was a good worker and this made me very proud of him. On a few occasions, as I shopped for groceries, I would watch Adam work for a few minutes and was surprised to see him acting like a “grown up.”

After Adam saved up his half of the cost of the car we drove to Worcester to pick up his first car. This is a big event in the lives of most teen-age boys because it really signals the beginning of their true independence. They’re now mobile. But along with the newfound freedom comes the responsibility of car-ownership. Insurance is mandatory in Massachusetts and it’s very expensive because of the “insurance-mafia” tactics of the liberal and inept (or possibly corrupt) government allowing no meaningful competition among insurance companies. Automobile maintenance and gasoline are also expensive, but as Americans it seems as if it is all an expense we’re willing to incur to have our own transportation. (In a related vein, I get a good feeling whenever I fill up my gas tank. I know I can drive at least another 200 miles without interference. Is it just me?)

Adam didn’t really enjoy working at a grocery store but he knew that he needed to have an income because he wasn’t going to handed money from his parents for the non-essential things he wanted. Since he was a junior in high school he also needed to start saving money for college. My daughter, Cassy, was quite different. She enjoyed working for the things she wanted. At age eleven she created brochures advertising the services she was willing to do including babysitting and light housekeeping and went door-to-door in our neighborhood until someone hired her. It amazes me that two children brought up by the same parents can be so different.

Next chapter: Something finally makes me cry.
Picture: Adam buys his first car

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