Spirits were high as a father took a half-day from his work as a stockbroker and surprised his young son, pulling him from boarding school to go on a special date to enjoy the local town fair. It had been a very challenging year for their family since the divorce. The father and son immediately laughed and ate funnel cake and twirled on rides together. Near the end of the day, the son was overjoyed to spot a street artist. He begged his dad to pose with him for a picture. The father reluctantly agreed and waited in line with his son because he took such delight in seeing his son beam with excitement.
As they approached the front the son sat on his dads lap, the father loosened his tie and posed as the street artist smiled and quietly got to work.
After a moment the artist requested a quick intermission to stand up and hug an old friend. The father welcomed the break and took a moment to bond with his son. He leaned in and quietly asked “what do you want be when you grow up?” Without skipping a beat, the son gleefully responded, “An artist!” The father smiled. He knew the festival was fun. He knew the atmosphere was contagious, but the well-meaning father recognized that this was a teachable moment. He used the opening as an opportunity to educate his son about the real world.
The father explained that art was a fun hobby, but not a “real job”. The father explained that it takes a considerable amount of money to be successful in life. That money is the vehicle to enjoy fun things like fun festivals, and fun sports cars, and fancy houses and maybe even someday get married and provide security for a growing family. That success in life would require financial independence. He concluded that discipline, good grades and a hard work were the cornerstones to becoming a responsible adult. Financial stability would ensure his success and happiness.
The son was visibly disappointed in his father’s uninspired picture of the real world. The father was visibly disappointed that his son did not understand his wise counsel about the value of money and how to be successful.
The conversation grew quiet for a moment and the father impatiently looked at his watch and re-straightened his tie realizing it was time to get back to work.
The artist returned with finishing touches and revealed the final image. The father and son’s faces lit up. He had captured the two of them brilliantly! The artist’s amazing talent mesmerized the son. The father nodded, acknowledging his skill and gladly tipped a few extra dollars for being kind with his receding hairline. And for a brief moment, everyone was happy.
But the moment was short lived as the artist watched the father quickly grab his sport jacket, gather his sons backpack and hustled his son out of the carnival so he get back to work.
The street artist sighed and glanced at his pocket watch, but then he smiled and started packing up his tools. He climbed into his simple car and exited the carnival. After a short commute he pulled into the simple driveway of his simple suburban home where his lovely wife had prepared a simple picnic and his three sons were playing together in the front yard. He parked his car and kissed his wife before bending down to hug his three beautiful young children and enjoyed the simplicity of the real world.