Monday, September 17, 2012

Like it, Own it?

I'm pretty good about not buying a lot of stuff for myself. Partially this is because my main hobby is reading, so the library is a much better alternative most of the time. Mostly, though, it's because I like not spending money on stuff so I can spend it doing things with friends or family.

I have a harder time not buying stuff for Peter, even though I know better. For the month leading up to his second birthday, Peter was crazy about airplanes. He saw the potential for an airplane toy in things I never would have considered and ran around the house making "woosh!" noises. For his birthday, we bought him a Little People airplane.

He LOVED it. He took it to summer camp with us every day. It entertained him for hours in his room. He pulled it around with him so many places that some of the color wore off the nose!

Now, he rarely uses it for more than five minutes in any given week.

Happily, what he wants at the mall is to play and walk around - easy to say yes to that! 

Sometimes it's even worse. He recently was given a toy that he was very excited to have... for approximately two days. We eventually donated it because he ignored it even when I actively tried to include it in our play time.

Even though I know this happens, I still want to buy him whatever he enjoys anywhere else. Seeing him excited about something makes me want to give it to him. In reality, I know that having these toys/books/games available at home would make him enjoy them less. They are fun because they are special and new, not because of any inherent quality of the toy.

This is where budgeting is useful. If we want him to be able to eat out with us or go to the town rec program, we can't just buy everything. And yes, Peter has his own line in our budget. That Excel spreadsheet has done wonders for my self-control. :-)

How culturally-based is this desire to possess whatever we enjoy? Is it unique to these United States? North America? Western civilization? Or is it everywhere?

6 comments:

  1. I was just thinking about this yesterday. Gus's grandparents seem to buy him a new toy almost every time we see them, and it kind of drives me crazy. Like you, I don't think that he needs something just because he has shown a fleeting interest in it. At the same time, it is hard to not buy something when I know how happy it will make him, even if just for a short time. Luckily, (?) our budget doesn't allow too many unplanned purchases. (And I guess it is grandparents' prerogative to buy useless things for their grandkids!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I suppose presents are right up there with cookies on a grandparents' bill of rights. :-)

      Delete
  2. We haven't quite reached this stage yet. We have however, run into the whole grandparents buy everything for the grandkid (especially since he's the first one!). It drives me crazy too sometimes, but as long as it doesn't lead to him becoming spoiled, I will not fight that battle. However, I wonder how to make sure he doesn't get too used to getting everything he wants from grandma and grandpa and then try to transfer that onto his parents. I've gotta look into some boundaries.

    Also, we had a little people airplane and really liked it when we were kids. Maybe he'll go back to it (if you haven't given it away already!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't worry too much about him expecting the same things from you as he does from his grandparents. Both of my grandpas spoiled me like crazy, but I never thought my parents would do that. Kids are pretty good at figuring out different rules for different people.

      Yeah, we still have the Little People airplane. He uses it occasionally and still seems to enjoy it, so it survived the most recent purge. :-)

      Delete
  3. Ugh... I feel you. I recently told my mom we're doing a one-toy only rule at Christmas, and she got all up in arms that she doesn't get to buy the kids more and more toys. They not only have enough (which is not a lot by most standards, I think) but there is no point in buying simply to buy. I asked her to instead pitch in to our cloth diaper fund for the new baby - which is something we really do NEED - and she got upset because it wasn't "fun". The kids have the most fun with an empty box and a packet of crayons to decorate it with, or running around the meadow behind our backyard with nothing but some sticks they picked up... They love the few stuffed animals/dolls they have... the more you have the less special they are. But yeah, I too find it really hard to not buy the pretty toys. I've gotten a bit better with this now. I usually put off buying for a month or two - by the time I revisit the idea I will often find that the toys don't look nearly so special anymore and I can pass on them. The toys we do tend to get now are all very open ended - play silks and the like that have kept growing with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the waiting period idea. Seems like it would help me keep perspective and make sure it's not just a passing interest on Peter's part. Good advice!

      Delete