By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital
December 7, 2003
A reader emailed me this week asking for gift advice for her three-year-old
niece. In the past, she's given coins, savings bonds and other
financial-type gifts. Staying with that theme, she wants something that is
affordable and won't end up broken in the bottom of a box full of plastic
Here is my gift advice for the young budding capitalists on your holiday gift
Kids love to be like their parents. The most requested present my
three-year old son wants for Christmas is some handkerchiefs, just like his
dad. (This, of course, says volumes about my allergies this time of
year.) Get your little ones something just like their parents use or
wear. Something obvious, grown-up and inexpensive.
Don't buy anything associated with a movie or fast food. Don't give
them anything that will take more than 200 years to decompose in a
landfill. (This is good advice for all of your gifts.)
Buy them a copy of "The Little Red Hen." Read it to them. Every
night. Do it until they can recite it. The lesson will eventually
soak in. It's Ayn Rand for pre-schoolers.
Give a plastic stadium cup with some change in it. (OK, maybe this
comes close to violating the landfill rule.) Ideally, give several stadium
cups from several different colleges. (Go to a college's website to order
them.) Make a big deal about each different college and about saving for
college. My three-year-old daughter dons her red and black baseball cap
and proudly proclaims that she plans to 'go to college at Georgia.' She
puts every penny she finds in her "bank." I don't care if she goes to
Georgia, but she has already decided she's going to college, even though she
doesn't yet know what that means.
Consider buying an inexpensive musical instrument. If the child is not
your own, get an instrument that makes a lot of noise. Drums, harmonicas
and tambourines are good choices. Children love playing along to their
favorite songs. And it will continue the parents' habit of sleep
deprivation that started at the birth of their kid.
Write a letter to a child. Write it as an adult would, not a
child. Assume she will read it when she's ten, again when she's 22 and
then when you die. Fill it full of your wisdom - ideas and observations
that will make more sense to her as she grows and matures.
Give yourself. Your time. If you make the effort to mentor a
four-year-old, you will pass along a piece of yourself - your soul - in the life
of that child and everyone he touches over the next 70 years.
Nothing influences the life of a child more than the unfulfilled life of his
parent. Too many people want their children to be something they
aren't. But your child is likely to become what you are, not what you
wished you had become. Be what you want them to be.
David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a
Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article
originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).