But it’s so pretty

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.

Welp.

“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.

Hello, beautiful.

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.)

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6 Comments

Filed under Buddhism, Mindful parenting

6 responses to “But it’s so pretty

  1. Stephanie L. R.

    Boy I hear you and feel your pain! The want vs. need lesson just gets harder as they get older too. You get so happy that your kid is in a “good” school – but half of what that means is that he doesn’t have any of the crap his peers have. *sigh* And yes, I want any sort of device that I could play angry birds on too. My motivator? “no credit card debt, no credit card debt” repeated over and over!! Good luck!

  2. Hi.
    So, I think I may be sidestepping your point here, but I’m saving my money to buy an iphone 4 when the iphone 5 comes out, and my wife just barely bought a refurbished iphone 3gs in July. Because we can’t say no to angry birds, but we can wait a while, and we can buy the slightly-less-new shiny toy. All things are fine in moderation, it’s the consumer gluttony we struggle to avoid.

  3. DD

    Nice blog just stumbled across and I’m quite impressed and amused. I myself have two children and it pains me sometimes to not give in to their wants but then again I don’t get everything I desire. Over the 4 and 6 years that I’ve known them, the material things they see on TV are the toys companies way of suckering us parents into buying things that they won’t appreciate 5 mins after playing with. Children are probably the best sales pitchmen out there and they can tug those heart strings pretty well. This Christmas was the worst because they received so much stuff that my apartment looked like a war zone hit it. In turn I just basically bagged everything put it away and left out what they played with on a regular basis. We also have a rule that toys are only welcomed into our lives if its for a birthday or Christmas. We refrain from filling the home with “stuff” that can’t be utilized on the regular. As for the iPhone if you can find a reason to use it everyday and find value for it in your life then go for it. I have one and use it to do everything. I certainly do not regret my purchase one bit but I have to say that people should not buy things based on how shiny something is. There is something to be said for all the maintenance and cost associated with owning a piece technology or anything else for that matter but if your ok with that research the crap out of the product and find out if its something your life is truly lacking. Great article by the way enjoyed it.
    Cheers
    D

  4. Charles Houser

    Sara-
    You have a wonderful talent for story-telling and you should be proud. I LOVE your blog….feel like I am reading a sit-com….please keep writing; you are very good at it! Thanks. CH

    • sarafraser

      Hey!
      I’m actually working on one now (finally. finally.) I’m so glad you enjoy the reading; there was a time I really enjoyed the writing… I’m trying to find that again.

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