Mondays aren’t always my favorite days. I often feel rushed– even if the backpack and lunchbox are packed the night before. Today was a special day at Superkiddo’s school: Muffins with Mom day, so I was super rushed to get out of the house on time. What’s Muffins with Mom? It is the designated day of breakfast & browsing (*cough* gimmick to spend more money) at the school’s book fair.
Superkiddo & I raced out of the house to beat the lines. He, of course, had a mile-long list of books that he fully expected Mommy to purchase. Here’s the deal: tomorrow is Donuts with Dad (*cough* another gimmick to spend more money), and Wednesday is Grandest Greetings with Grandparents Day (*cough cough cough*). Dare I mention that my kid has 1000’s of books?!?! He doesn’t need more books. I am not sure that he even wants more books; he is just excited by the decor, as well as, the notion of something new. Is this how crazy consumerism starts? “I don’t need it, but I want it.”
He inherited the “everything genes.” I am an only child, and I grew up with everything. Superkiddo is currently an only child, the only nephew, and only grandchild. This kid gets EVERYTHING, and by everything, I mean E-VE-RY-THING that he can even imagine. Thankfully, he isn’t one of those annoying, spoiled kids. You know the ones that you want to accidentally trip in the store – – they’re flailing around on the floor because their parents said the magic 2-letter word: No. He’s heard no plenty of times. He’s grateful for what he receives, and he knows that many kids aren’t as blessed as he is. He willingly gives to others. I cannot brag about this; I am just amazed that he’s this cool.
Back to consumerism… He knows that he doesn’t need a zombie, glow in the dark bookmark and pen set. But it is there. On the shelf. At his eye level. Several nearby boys grabbed one. Then it happened: every boy in the room just had to have one. What did my gracious, grateful, glorious child say to me? “Everyone else is getting one.” It wasn’t a big deal; the stupid thing was maybe $2, but a point had to be made. There was no way that I was going to buy that ugly thing. I asked him if he noticed the bookmark before the other boys started playing with theirs. He said no. I then asked if the bookmark was awesome because he really liked it, or because other kids were going bananas over it. He thought about it, & I started to worry. His answer was wise beyond his years. He said, “Mommy, just because they all think that it is cool, it doesn’t mean that I have to. I think that I want to think for myself, and pick out something cooler.” So, Mr Supercool found something else (*cough* conned me into buying a more expensive set), and proudly went to the checkout register, without trying to fit in.
I am sure that as the gadgets and gimmicks become more elaborate, and peer pressure intensifies, that we will have to get into deeper discussions. I must admit that I don’t feel ready for this; I like that my kid is still rather oblivious when it comes to the must-have toys. He likes what he likes. If you like it, cool. If not, he doesn’t really care. He has many friends with cell phones (yes, in freaking elementary school!), and hasn’t asked for one (yet haha). We explained that he didn’t need one (because he doesn’t!), and he accepted that. I’ve noticed more and more kids making a big deal out of mentioning a certain toy – a DS or Xbox, and it isn’t in the form of an invitation to play. These kids are mentioning what they have as a badge of honor, or to weed out which kids don’t have certain items. How do we counter this?
I think that kids who are blessed to have access to “everything” should be grateful. I find it incredibly distasteful to teach a child that it is okay to judge someone according to what they have, but isn’t that what is being rammed down our throats in the media? I am trying to teach my son that it is perfectly awesome to be an individual, but I know that the peer pressure will soon come for him to blend in. There has to be a way to help our kiddos see that it is okay to love their own skin, and not to judge people who have more or less… I have often been accused of being an idealist, but shouldn’t I want the best possible world for this & the next generation?
How do we raise a grateful generation? How do we curb hyper consumerism? I would love to know your thoughts and tips on raising grateful children in an overly advertising saturated society.
Until next time,