I placed an indefinite moratorium on toy purchases until my child starts enjoying doing things more than buying things. It may be a long time before anything made of plastic is paid for with plastic. We went to the zoo over the weekend and all she wanted to do was check out the gift shops and food stands. She literally walked right by two anteaters without blinking on her way to a bin of stuffed polar bears. How do you walk right by an anteater? It’s like a saw horse wearing a shawl. Which end is which? During her three hour quest for cheesy popcorn and anything stuffed or remotely shiny she did stop to see some reptiles and a zebra. I am fairly certain, however, that the only reason she stopped to gaze at the zebra was because he was peeing.
This behavior is not unique to the zoo. My daughter tries to shop everywhere she goes. When I invite her to tag along on a quick trip to Target to buy some deodorant or vitamins, she declines after her request to purchase a toy is denied. The first question she asks whenever we are going somewhere is if she can buy something. Her Dad stopped at Home Depot to pick up fertilizer and she tried to buy a toy there. She was seriously disappointed in the selection. In her mind all stores have toys, food, or something else that she can waste her money on. Good thing home improvement stores have hot dogs!
I would like to blame this shopping obsession on toys like Shopkins that are teaching kids to be little consumers, but I really can’t. It’s genetic. She comes from a very long line of gifted shoppers. By gifted I mean we can find a way to purchase something anywhere. The gym, post office, church, sometimes even in the car while stopped at a light. I don’t advocate online shopping while driving, but sometimes commutes are long and things happen. I don’t know if I have ever known my mother to leave a store without buying at least one thing. The wee one is following right in her footsteps. The problem with this is a seven year old doesn’t have the same understanding of money that an adult does. She just wants things and will do what it takes to get them.
Materialism has sunk it’s teeth deep into my child. We are putting up a good fight but it’s hard to compete against all the glitz and glitter. This battle has been going on since she could walk. It goes a little something like this – child wants toy, asks parents for toy, parents refuse to buy toy, child cries to grandma, grandma buys toy. The parents never win this battle, not that I know of at least. So, I declared a a cease fire. My house is much like the Cuban missile crisis. Demands are made, threats are returned, and we both back away. I know this is a fight that will also last as long, if not longer than the Cold War. That’s okay, I’ve got stamina.
The good news is summer is upon us. It is a time to spend doing things and not buying things. It is hours in the pool and out at the lake. The bad news is I am already having visions of Amazon Prime deliveries floating out to us with my daughter’s name on the packages. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I wrote this story while listening to Sonic Youth “Daydream Nation”