DR. WALLACE: Everybody (well, most of the boys) in my freshman class at school rides skateboards to school. They get there faster than I do because I have to walk. I asked my parents for a skateboard, but they said they are far too dangerous and that walking to school gives me good exercise anyway. My dad says that because I have not ridden a skateboard before, I'll get hurt trying to ride one to school. I feel it's unfair to keep me from having a skateboard like a lot of guys at my school. — Walking Alone, via email
WALKING ALONE: Skateboards are not dangerous by themselves. What can be dangerous to riders are drastic or unnecessary risks being taken while riding a skateboard. I suggest the following for you: Ask your parents if you can get a part-time job so that you can earn money to buy a skateboard, a helmet, kneepads and elbow pads. Tell your parents you will keep walking to school while you are learning how to ride your skateboard in your driveway and right in front of your house. Tell them you'll wear the necessary protection and won't take crazy risks, and keep your word about this.
Over time you will either become a very good rider, or you will tire of trying to do so. If you succeed in becoming proficient, perhaps your parents may allow you to safely ride your board to school. But remember to wear the helmet and safety gear at all times.
YOU'RE THE WINNER, NOT YOUR BROTHER
DR. WALLACE: My parents give my brother and me $50 for every A we get on our report cards and $25 for every B. We get nothing for grades C or below, and if we fail any class, we must forfeit all bonuses. I'm in the 10th grade, and my brother is in the 11th grade. I take really difficult courses, including Spanish and geometry. My brother takes the easiest courses he can find because he doesn't care at all about learning; he just wants to get the most cash possible from our parents.
Last semester, I earned two A's and four B's for a total cash value of $200. My brother got three A's and three B's, so his report was $225. If I had taken easier classes, I would have earned $100 or more. I don't think it's fair. I complain, but all I hear is, "Stop whining," from my father. He tells me that whining is weak and unbecoming. He also says this is a good lesson for me to learn now, while I am in high school, as the "real world" is loaded with people who think like my brother does, and I will zoom past them later in life with my superior skills and work ethic. I still feel cheated, and all of my dad's talk does not help me with my finances right now. It's painful to see my brother waving all of his extra money in my face every semester. Should I start taking easier classes next semester? I sure could use the extra cash, and I'd like to have my brother pipe down a bit, too. — Shortchanged, Des Moines, Iowa
SHORTCHANGED: You're the real winner. Don't worry about the few extra dollars your brother is given now. Your command of difficult subjects will serve you for the better when it comes time to go to college or apply for a job. In the long run, you will benefit many times over by keeping your mind sharp and your skill sets growing.
If an extra goal of yours is to bring in a little more cash, ask your parents if you can do extra chores on the weekend for pay. You could also start to work as a babysitter or an assistant at a local market, restaurant or service business. By doing this, you'll not only have substantially more cash than your big brother but you'll also be building your skills by learning new jobs and responsibilities.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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