My piggy bank slipped from my hands and fell, breaking into pieces. The coins scattered all over the room. I quickly ran to pick them all up as my grandfather gazed at me.
The piggy bank had been a gift from him. It had an opening through which one could put money in, but it was not big enough to reach in and get the money out. That’s the whole idea, he explained. The bank will help you save your money so that at the end of the year, you might have enough for that bicycle you want.
Whenever he gave me a little bit of money, which was often, he would say, This is for spending. But you can save some and put it in the piggy bank if you want to save it up. Whenever he gave me larger amounts, it was clearly for saving in the piggy bank.
For some time, this worked fine. I loved shaking the piggy bank and hearing the clinking sound of the coins. As it became heavier, I grew more and more excited, dreaming about what I could do with my savings.
Until . . .
One day, my friends and I wanted to visit the new ice-cream shop in town. Even after pooling everybody’s money together, we did not have enough for each of us to get an ice cream.
Why don’t you take some out of your piggy bank? my friend asked.
No. I can’t, I replied firmly. There is a slit for putting the money in, but no way for taking any out. Besides, my grandfather told me that I need to save the money until the end of the year.
Come on. Show me the piggy bank. I’ll show you how you can take out the money, said my friend, the know-it-all.
I didn’t want to, but I felt pressured by my friends. We took the piggy bank to the park and tried our best to shake out the money.
I must confess that it was fun. Someone got a quarter, another one got a dollar bill, and one managed to pull out a five-dollar bill.
Finally, we managed to get enough money to buy everyone an ice cream.
From then on, I became an expert at taking money out of my piggy bank. Soon, it became a habit, and I started taking out money whenever I wanted it, without a second thought.
I was doing just that when Grandpa walked in.
It was then that I panicked and dropped the piggy bank. It broke.
As I picked up the last coin, it was painfully clear that I had spent most of the money in it.
I burst into tears, and Grandpa came over and hugged me, not saying a single word. He let me cry as much as I wanted. I did not know what to say.
The rest of the day, I kept thinking how irresponsible I had been. Would Grandpa ever trust me again?
Soon, I got the answer.
The next day, he presented me with another piggy bank, identical to the one that had broken.
“Let’s try starting over,” said Grandpa, and then he kissed me on my forehead. He pulled out five dollars and gave it to me. “I know this bank will most likely have a much longer life.”
I put the five-dollar bill inside. And I learned from watching my grandfather’s actions, that along with not to rob myself, not to rob another of their dignity when they have made and learned from a mistake.
Jamuna Rangachari © 2006 Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul http://www.chicksoup.com