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Monday, April 8
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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

My seven-year-old grandson Max is a first grader in Oakland, California. He is reading on a third grade level and is now plowing through the Harry Potter series. His parents read to him in his formative years and that practice is paying off in so many ways. Max has a curiosity about the world. When we took him to Hawaii a couple of years ago his favorite activity was exploring some ancient pictographs. On a recent trip, we all went to Monterrey, California and visited the world-class aquarium there. Max paused before every exhibit, especially the ones featuring seahorses and seadragons. He watched as the fascinating creatures did their graceful dances and prances in the water.

Max knows about the value of exercise and takes classes in Poekoelan, a Filipino form of self-defense. It’s something he has done for years and is advancing through the ranks. He is an intrepid Frisbee player.

Max is a genuine Lego maniac. He builds things from the tiny plastic blocks. Sometimes he follows directions; sometimes he just starts creating something from scratch. He says he likes to play with the Legos, but prefers the building. He’ll spend hours putting a project together, then take it all apart and start making innovations to it.

We took Max to Legoland in Carlsbad, California last year and it was almost too much for him to absorb. He wanted to live there. He couldn’t believe all the cityscapes and giant figures made from Legos. His parents are planning a return trip. “It’s the best place I’ve ever been,” says Max.

Max subscribes to the Lego magazine and spends hours with it. He started playing with Legos when he was three. Now he’s into the Star Wars series of Legos.

On our way back to his home after visiting the aquarium, we stopped at a mall and visited the Lego store. Max bought a Lego Star Wars Death Star. The price: a hefty $400.00. Max saved the money over a six-month period. “I did chores like setting the table, clearing the dishes after a meal and unloading the dishwasher,” says Max. “But a lot of the money came from not watching TV. Every week, my parents put ten one dollar bills on top of the TV. For every hour I spent watching TV, a dollar was taken away. It took me about two weeks to realize that if I didn’t watch TV I could make more money. It was hard, but after two weeks I didn’t miss it much, especially since I knew the money I put in savings was adding up. I just stopped watching TV and started making more money.”

Max said he did miss his favorite two shows, Scooby-Doo and Star Wars. “My parents thought I would continue to watch, but they were wrong. When I reached my first hundred dollars, I felt like I could make it, even though I had three hundred more dollars to go.” Now Max has started saving for a Millennium Falcon, which costs $500.

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