A Child's Wish, A Family's Dream
by Amanda A. Morrow, homeschooler, age 15
People always ask me what I will be when I grow up. "Maybe you'll become a writer?" they ask, or, "Will you make it big in life?"
The possibilities are endless. They are even more endless for my eight-year-old brother, Jonathan, -- ". . .a fireman?" ". . .a policeman?" or "How about a construction worker?""So," I'd like to respond, "What would you say if we told you we were already 'something?' Would you believe us? Would you believe that a 15-year old and an 8-year-old could be entrepreneurs?"
My mom and dad owned and operated a family business. At first, it was fun to help out once in a while -- you know, lick the stamps and envelopes, post billings, hand out business cards, etc. But as the business started to pick up, our family-owned and operated business quickly became simply a home-based business. My mom had to work more than we liked, and, when my dad came home from work, he had to work some more. Weekends were no longer time for leisure; they were time for crunch work. The business was holding us down. Jonathan and I came to feel very left out. Patience was wearing us all down, and it wasn't fun to own our own business anymore.We went through a year or two of this until we could no longer suffer through it. The business had taken over, and it was finally time to say ENOUGH!!
No sooner had we quit that business when ideas were springing into our heads for another one, one in which we would all participate. We would all work to promote it. Also, Jonathan would help pick out the toys and such, I could write letters, Mom could do research, and Dad could build the website. Ours would be a website for children, by children, and about children; a website where parents could order special things for their little ones and where wishes could come true. It would be a website that all of us put an effort into. No matter how hard things would get, we would have to stick together because, this time, if just one person slacked off, the whole business would collapse.The "not now's" were becoming "let's go get 'em," and the former, "There's nothing for you to help with," has now become, "Are there any new ideas this week?"
This was really becoming a family-owned and operated business. My grandparents; great-grandparents; my married brother, who is a father himself; my aunt and uncle, who work for the State Department; my other aunt and uncle, who own their own restaurant; my cousins; hey, even my twin step-cousins were shouting out ideas! Everyone in the family was helping out in their own way.Jonathan and I helped with the website and came up with marketing ideas. Mom and Dad encouraged us and were a part of our journey. Everyone had to be okay with every step we'd take, because, no matter what, we were going to take it together.
Making our own business happen would have been impossible without family support, dreams, and goals. Nor could I have participated if I had been in public school.In public school, I didn't have the right attitude or the "time of day" for that matter. Now that I homeschool, I know I can do anything if I decide to, and I will give you the time of day because I have plenty of it to share. I can dedicate it to whatever I desire!
When I was younger, I homeschooled for two years. It didn't work out because, like most families just starting out, we had a rigid schedule, and I was not the type of person to be told what to do and how often to do it. So, I went back to public school until the end of eighth grade. Then, when I returned to homeschooling, I needed a bit of adventure. Starting our own business has really given me that. I was able to see what it's like behind the scenes of a business. I also learned that money doesn't grow on trees and that you have to spend money to make money. Homeschooling has also given me the opportunity to run another little business of my own, besides the website. Babysitting gives me my own money and the responsibilities that go along with it. I have learned that I have to work very hard for my money. When I was in public school and Mom bought my clothes, I really didn't care much about them. My attitude was, "Oh well, mom has a money tree stuffed in her closet." Now that I buy my own clothes, I take care of them because I have a vested interest and am NOT going to ruin them. Because I have learned the value of my OWN dollar, I am able to respect the value of other people's money. I am also able to see the value of our business dollar and understand how our choices determine whether we make a profit or not.The hardest part about having our own business is …WORKING! The money does not roll in. We have to let people know we have a website, which sometimes requires us to go door-to-door -- no stroll in the park on a hot day. The best part about having our own business is that we all pitch in. My mom gets to stay home all day with us, and we love that. Hopefully, someday my dad will be able to quit working outside the home, and then we will all be our own bosses. That is another bonus of working for ourselves, we say when we want a break, and NO ONE is telling us what to do, except maybe the customers, because they are always right. We are constantly learning in order to better our business and ourselves.
I took Toastmasters and Economics (classes offered by our local homeschool group) for several months, and I learned many things to improve my academic and business skills. Economics helped me deal with money, sales, etc., and Toastmasters taught me public speaking, which enabled me to spread the news about our business by word of mouth. I would never have been able to do this before Toastmasters, because I was too shy and unsure of myself when I spoke in front of groups of people. These classes helped me to use my own brain, not the "uni-brain" that I shared with everyone else while attending L.A.U.S.D. They also taught me how to write speeches, and writing is something I enjoy very much!Our business didn't start where it is now. We had to work for what it has become. I have some pictures on my wall to give me inspiration. They say: "Success is a journey, not a destination." "Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprint of your ultimate achievements." "Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadows."
(The latter is by Helen Keller.) Hey, Walt Disney didn't start out big, did he? For most of his life he was a poor farm boy. Look at the Knotts family: They started out selling fruit in a tiny, rickety shack by the road. Everyone starts somewhere, right? Look how many great candies and foods started out in some guy's kitchen.Our business is not big yet, and maybe it will never make us millionaires; but it will help us pay the bills and even send Jonathan and I to college someday. No matter what it becomes, the whole FAMILY will continue to work on it to make it even better.
I know that I will be "something" when "I grow up" because I already am "something." Maybe I will be "something big." I definitely know that what I'll become will be bigger than if I had waited till I was older to learn what I'm learning now. I'll be "bigger" than I would have been if I didn't have my family or if I had stayed in public school."So, next time, instead of asking me what I want to be when I grow up, ask me what I am now. You might be surprised at my answer!" Oh yes, please visit our website: www.achildswish.com. My brother and I would very much enjoy providing your child with his very own holiday letter!