Grit, Grease and Lifelong Skills

By Holly Giles | Boy Crafting


The Gift

My husband came home with a FREE car one Sunday afternoon, after helping a friend move.  What has transpired from there is a family adventure in the lessons of trading up! We are an outdoor family.  We love to spend time hiking, kayaking and the boys love to fish. We have not had a “running boat” in about ten years, and now that the boys are older, my husband has been itching to get a boat that can serve the family, yet great for fishing.
Our budget of zero for this endeavor has made it just a dream that the three of them wish for. On this particular Sunday afternoon, Curtis had made plans to take the boys out in the canoe. However, when his friend asked for his help, and his truck, he knew that was what he needed to do that day.

That evening, on his way home, he called to let me know he had a “surprise” for me that I was going to love!  Yet somehow the old, loud, smoking green car that followed him down the drive was not what I had in mind.  I didn’t ask too many questions while the owner was waiting for his ride back home. He did thank us for taking it off his hands since they had bought a new car, it was just getting in the way. “Great,” I thought, how long was it going to be in my way.

The Plan

After the owner had left, Curtis said: “It’s worth $300 at the junkyard just like that”. Yeah, he was smarter than I anticipated today.  Then he uttered the word “but”, “I thought we could keep it a while and show the boys how to work on it, see if we can fix the problems and get it running well.” Oh boy, we had just cleaned all the junk in the backyard that was blocking my view of the water, now this old car was going to take its place.

I resigned myself that this could be a good project for them and I can write in our homeschool log about auto mechanics.

Those three boys began working on the car and were really excited about the possibilities. Even though my boys are eleven and eight, they thought for some reason that this was going to be their car at sixteen.  They were ready to fix her upright and decided to name her FREEDA.

Over the next few weeks, Curtis had found a few minor problems and decided it could be fixed without great expense.  They took a few trips to the junkyard for parts and side mirrors. They were in luck because Freeda’s twin sister had been brought in a few days earlier. Have you ever been to the junkyard? It is quite the field trip, especially when the owners are twins, both named  Ron.

The Experience

The discussions began about what they were going to do with the car.  Curtis thought he would just sell it, but then he had the idea of trying to trade it for something they want. it might be more fun. They began to imagine what they could trade it for, and the talk came back to a boat. Obviously, the car was not worth the value of the boat they wanted, but Curtis and I talked about how we could try to trade up in value,  and keep trading until we could save money and get what we wanted.

Freeda was almost finished. Everyone chipped in. I sewed the rip in the driver’s seat, the boys washed her to a sparkle and put on the side mirrors themselves. Curtis finished the mechanic work and we were ready to put her up for trade!

Trading Up

Photos were taken, and then I taught Crockett how to place an ad on Craigslist.  We listed it under trade.  “Will trade for anything boy!” By the next day, Curtis’s phone was ringing. A yellow, mini motorcycle was offered up, a pinball machine, a collection of classic horror films, and the list went on.  Nothing was of interest to the boys, so they
kept waiting.

Then, a call came with a trade for a canoe with a motor and trailer.  It was of definite interest, so they went to take a look at it.  The man needed a car to be able to get to work. He was unsure about parting with his canoe but decided to do it.

The excitement was all around! A new toy had arrived at our home, yet it was a bittersweet goodbye to Freeda.  Crockett and Cowboy had become attached to her.  Curtis had let them drive her in a vacant field over the month we had her, they had worked on her and brought her back to glory, and they had dreams of her being their own car.  Now Freeda was driving off with a new owner, they sure hoped he would take care of her!

Next, we talked about the lessons that were learned from this experience.  What can happen when you do a good deed for a friend, in spite of your own plans? Daddy was given a car in exchange for his time.  He could have traded it in for $300 and have been done with it. Instead, he saw an opportunity to teach his boys a few lessons about mechanics, hard work, and the possibility of a profit.

In the end, the car was valued at $600 plus dollars after the work they did on it.  The Old Town canoe with motor and trailer is valued at $1200. I would say they have a great start toward trading up for their fishing boat!

Our story does not end here, it is only the beginning! We are still on the hunt for a fishing boat.  The Old Town canoe has been in the water every weekend since they got it, but now it is time to put it for sale or trade!  Keep tuned to the Freeda update to see what we will trade for next in our quest for a boat.

What do you have to trade?

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