It was the Saturday of spring break (two months ago) when my 17-year-old son, Reggie, asked if we could go to Long & McQuade, a musical instrument store down on Pembina Highway. He said he wanted to try out flutes. I thought he was just bored and wanted to visit the store.
We have been to this store about six months before and he tried out a few flutes. He wanted to buy a new one. I’m talking about a professional flute here and not like the beginner’s flute that he owns right now. But it was way beyond our means. We also went to St. John’s Music Store on Portage Avenue to look for a less expensive one. But he didn’t find one that he liked.
We all went down to Pembina that Saturday. I also dragged his two younger brothers as we were also going to the mall afterwards to buy them new shoes and shirts. I tell you, these kids shoot up like bamboos. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but they do outgrow their clothes fast.
When we got to Long & McQuade, Reggie went straight to the farther end of the store. He already knew where the flutes were. He asked the salesclerk for what I thought was the same flute that he tried back in August. The clerk unlocked the glass case where the flutes were displayed. He then ushered Reggie to a small room farther back where he could play it.
Meanwhile, the boys and I checked out the other instruments that were on display. There were different kinds of saxophones, trombones, trumphets, etc. There was a big xylophone and although I told the boys not to touch it, they still did.
About ten minutes have passed and the boys were starting to get bored. We went closer to the room where we could hear Reggie playing the flute. There were racks of music books outside the room and we browsed through some of them. There was a piano by the wall. Ryland and I tried tapping the keys although no sound came out of it. Ryan sat on the stool just outside the door of the small room.
Another ten minutes passed. “Isn’t he done yet?” “When are we going home?” The two boys asked. “Let’s go inside and watch him play,” I told them. We went inside the little room and Reggie was still playing the flute. It was just a tiny room and too cramped so we went out again.
After about ten more minutes, Reggie came out with the flute in his hand. “I want to ask him if I can bring this home,” he said. “What bring home are you talking about?” I asked him. “I don’t think they’ll let you bring it home.” That’s when it struck me that he wanted to buy it.
So I asked the clerk how much it cost, although I already had an idea and I had no intention of buying it. As I’ve already mentioned, the flutes were kept in a locked case. That’s because they are dear, as in high-priced. $5100 my dear readers. This was even more expensive than the $3,000 flute he tried last time. “Reggie, you know we can’t afford to buy this now,“ I explained to him. I knew that he was aware of that. But I also knew that he had really wanted to replace his flute, which he has had for over five years now.
I asked the clerk if they had any financial arrangements that they could offer us. “We can’t afford this kind of money right now,” I told the clerk. “He’s going to New York in May and I have to shell out $2000 for that. Then he’s going to university in the Fall and I have to pay thousands of dollars for that too.” I explained all these to the clerk while Reggie stood there and all these explanations were actually intended for him and not the poor clerk who had no idea of our financial situations. The clerk gave me a few options of how we could pay for it, but still, he wanted the instrument to be paid up within a year and even the monthly payments on that would still be beyond our budget. I told him that we would think about it and we left the store.
This is the Sankyo Silver Sonic O-B, the $5100 flute that Reggie wanted to buy.
When we were on our way to the car, I asked Reggie if he wanted to use a new flute when he goes to university, was there something wrong with his flute, why did he want so badly to buy a new one? “Well, it’s a piece of junk,” he said. “Ouch,” I said to myself. I was glad the flute wasn’t there with us to hear that line, or I would have covered its ears. But then again, a flute is a thing and it doesn’t have ears or emotions. I just felt bad to hear him say that this thing that he caresses every day, this thin silver instrument that he plays every single day, this thing that earns him applause every time he performs at a concert, is a piece of junk.
I understand his need to upgrade his instrument. After all, he’s moving on to a higher education and more advanced music courses. Also, he’s been playing this flute everyday for almost six years now. It has been used many a times and has probably outlived its life expectancy. And I also realize that he knew we don’t have that kind of money. He has mentioned before about taking a summer job. So I suggested that to him. But then again, I don’t think he could save up enough money to buy that flute in only two months. But at least it would help. Let’s say, he saves $2000 at the most, he would still need $3000. We still can’t afford that. Here I am, already working extra hours every week. But it seems that the extra money I earn is still not enough.
I want to provide my kids with the things they need and want. It was a lot easier when he was younger when he’d ask for a new toy, or game, or CD. Sure there were times when they had to wait when he and his brothers asked for the Playstation or each of their Gameboys, but I somehow managed to give them those, too. Now that he’s older, his wants are getting bigger and more expensive.
I know parents who would buy their children their own car and then they would take a second or even a third job. With all these overwhelming expenses in raising these three growing children, I have also considered looking for a second job. It’s really good that we are always busy at work and overtime has always been open. And with all these extra hours that I work, it’s really like I have a second (part-time) job.
Sometimes I feel bad that I am not able to provide them with the things that they want. But yet again, even if I were able to, I wouldn’t want to give in to everything that they ask. I didn’t have a lot when I was growing up. And I have learned that I can’t always have what I want. That’s also what I want my children to learn. And that sometimes, if you want something big or expensive, you have to work hard for it.