There’s a reason the Kaiser only watches Nick Jr. and Disney. No commercials. Turn on Nickelodeon. If you don’t have children, this won’t mean anything to you and you’ll mutter something about “all that junk” they’re selling. If you do have wee folk in your house, flip it on and watch your child’s eyes light up with desire. Now wait. Waaaait for it. The supplications will come. The “I want” and – scarier – “I neeeeeed” ring out of their mouths like they were BORN to do this. By “this,” I mean desire a lot of extraneous shit.
Cole and I took a trip to the beach a few weeks back, returning on the afternoon before Father’s Day. I had already gotten Jed a book, but we needed to fill a gift bag with some cool daddy stuff so we headed to ye olde Walgreen’s for the perfect card and perfect fireworks (South Carolina, you ARE good for something and don’t let anyone tell you differently) and perfect dark chocolate.
As we walked into the store, the Kaiser inundated me with his desire to buy something for himself.
“But mom, I haven’t bought anything in FOREVER.”
That is a lie. We acquired no fewer than five quickly forgotten souvenirs at the beach the week prior. And a hermit crab because I’m a sucker. So I explained this, and reminded him that this was about Father’s Day, not about Cole. Because… not everything is about Cole.
“You don’t love me,” he spat out.
“I do love you,” I said, “but you’re still not getting anything.”
If the kid relates material acquisition to love, the next thirteen years of his life are going to be rife with disappointment. I explained this and we had a chat about what matters (family and kindness and fun with friends and love). He didn’t care; all he sees is the shiny plastic car that his mother is not going to buy.
I’m writing about this today because upon waking, my first thought was the shiny new iPhone 4 that I’m thinking about buying. It’s $200, and that’s a lot of money to me. But I want it. I want it so badly. I don’t even have an iPod and that’s how I’ve been justifying it to myself.
You can play angry birds like everyone else.
You’ll have musics!
It looks so damn cool.
Your phone is so old and crap.
It’ll be so damn cool.
But I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to get an iPhone and get my dog to the vet for a check-up. I can’t afford an iPhone and pay my car taxes on time. I can’t afford an iPhone because that’s $200 less in my Sara’s-gonna-buy-a-farm fund.
Need vs. want. Non-attachment. Learning, just like the Kaiser, what is important and what’s not. He’s young now, and that means he doesn’t really pay attention to his mother’s purchases or lack thereof. But someday he will, and one thing I know is this: I can talk all day about the things that are important and the things that are not, but the tangible choices he sees me make … that’s what matters.
(I still want an iPhone.)