When I was a kid, my father was in the military. This meant that we lived in family military housing. If you’ve seen it, or lived in it, you know that it is nothing spectacular. When we lived in New York we lived in a small apartment on the fourth floor of a high-rise on Governor’s Island. My brother and I each had our own rooms. Mine housed the extra freezer that was necessary to hold the food that my family would trek to a bigger base in New Jersey once a month to procure.
We had toys. We had a lot of toys. In fact, we still have many of those toys. Now, our kids are enjoying some of our Matchbox cars and Barbie dolls.
But we had nothing compared to what our kids have.
This is, in part, because when we were a military family we had to move every few years. If you’ve ever moved you realize that the less stuff you have to move, the better.
But really I think it’s just sort of the norm these days. Kids just have a lot of stuff. Well, so do grown-ups come to think of it. I don’t know if my kids are spoiled. Ah, they probably are, but no more so than the kids down the street. Right?
When did this happen? When did it become normal to buy your kids everything they could ever want?
I realize that I haven’t bought my kids everything they want, but gosh it’s getting close.
I wonder what I’m teaching them. Am I teaching them to delay gratification? Am I teaching them to save their money up in order to buy the things that they want?
That’s bad isn’t it?
It could be worse. Oh, I know it could be so much worse.
My kids are grateful for the presents they receive for Christmas and their birthdays. They always say thank you when someone gives them something, whether it be a toy, a drawing from a friend or a free cookie at Target.
They don’t have cell phones. (I bet there are some kindergartners somewhere who do…right?) They don’t have designer clothes. (I prefer to buy on clearance and pay less than $10 per item…especially since they’ll just wear a hole in the knee anyway.)
They don’t have their own iPods, like I saw a fifth-grader at M’s school with a few weeks ago.
But they do have too many toys. I know this because they can break two or three and have three taken away for weeks at a time and they don’t really miss them. They just shrug and go play with something else. K will tell me “well then I’m not your friend” if I take his favorite toys away, but then will forget about them for days at a time.
They wouldn’t miss many of their toys if I sold them. But I’d know I did it. And one day I’d think “oh I wish we still had x toy, that would be fun to play with today.”
Yeah, I have issues.
Once or twice a year I get in a mood and start to pack up toys to sell at our annual garage sale. When this mood strikes, my husband does all he can to keep our kids out of my way so that I will cull the most toys possible from the toy chests. He is not a toy pack rat like I am. (Lest he think that he has no issues, let me assure him that he does…just different ones than I!)
I think it will help once I have this, my last baby. As this child grows out of the baby things and clothes we will gain storage space since there will be no reason to save the clothes (most of them! I still save “coming home” outfits and baptism outfits!) or the toys. There will be no more babies in our house to use these things.
But I have a feeling that the baby and “little kid” things that will slowly leave our house will just be replaced with other stuff. Bigger kid stuff.
And cell phones.
Just not yet.