A mothers point of view is both an invaluable and dangerous commodity in the realm of fatherhood. That said, I’m pleased to welcome Maura from Playpen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide to drop some motherly knowledge in our warped corner of the internet here at dadforbeginners.com. Enjoy!
I recently had the pleasure of participating in my first official back to school shopping spree. I say pleasure because the idea of ‘back to school’ is a novelty for me at this point. I realize everyone else likes to post their incessant status updates on Facebook, bitter complaints about buying thirteen and a half boxes of tissues and forty-seven dry erase markers for their child’s classroom, but this is my first foray into having a child who is now old enough to start spending a decent amount of time, on a regular basis, out of my house.
My oldest, Hollywood (4), started preschool this year. I wasn’t given a supply list by the school so I was free to spend my time (and money) on clothing. I’m not going to lie. I like to shop, especially for my kids. But as I stood in line at the shoe store with five pairs of shoes, I recalled a post from Dad for Beginners, about the ridiculous amount of money parents spend on needless items for their children. Admittedly, my haze of shame quickly disappeared when I got to the front of the line and saw all the pretty shoes.
After my three hour escapade, I came home to sort through and coordinate all of these outfits. I started reminiscing about how my mom and I would have thrice monthly outings to go shopping and then out to dinner. At the time, I never deigned to ask how my single mother paid these lavish outings. I know now that it was a piss poor move on her part for the sake of her future (we needn’t get into that), and frankly, mine. Why? Were you not paying attention when I said I bought five pairs of shoes for a four year old? I think it goes without saying by the way that mom-blogging isn’t bringing in scads of money.
But there I was, back to school shopping, buying enough clothing and shoes to outfit The Municipal Girls Orphanage. When Hollywood saw her loot later that night, we had a little fashion show and after the fifteenth, and last outfit she asked, “What else did you buy me?” Fuck. I’ve turned my daughter into Imelda Marcos.
Kids are wanton to want. I know that. But it didn’t really occur to me until now that I am doing her a disservice by spoiling the shit out of her. She now has the expectation that every time I walk in the door, I should have an offering for her. Or that every time we go to a store, I should buy her whatever she fancies. (For the record, she still doesn’t dare throw a tantrum if I do decline to honor her request) And it’s completely my fault. And I will fix it.
Most of us want our kids to it have better than we did. I’m always striving to make life for Hollywood and Baby better than I did and that’s hard. I’m not saying I had a flying pony or anything but my family set the bar pretty high when it came to me getting what I wanted, which is probably why it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that money doesn’t grow on trees. Of course I want Hollywood and Baby to have what they want. But more importantly, I want them to be able to appreciate what they have because they know that I, or even more importantly, they, worked for it.
So this is my mea culpa. Instead of trying to satisfy my own urges by spoiling my kids, I am going to try and take the high road. If they want something, (other than the standard obligations I need to provide as a parent), they are going to need to work for it. I’m not saying I’m going to run out and buy the ‘chore chart’ from the craft store, but an allowance may be on the horizon. The world doesn’t owe these kids anything and the sooner they learn that the better.