...Veruca Salt. Remember her? If not, here's a hint:
I have had it with "I want..." "I need..." "Can I get..." "How come he gets..."
Don't get me wrong. It's not like they're asking for lunch, or shoes that fit, or a clean towel. They're asking for a bunch of expensive, unnecessary brain-cell killing, creativity-numbing, "he has it so I should get it too or at least something better" CRAP that my mother would have smacked me silly for even complaining that I didn't have. Or they hear of someone getting to do something cool. Instead of, "Wow - how cool that he got to do that!" I get, "Why can't WE do that???? Huh? Huh?"
This was not how I intended to bring these kids up. I'm not sure WHERE, at ages 10 and 14, they get the IDEA that they DESERVE anything more than the basic food, clothing and shelter that I provide to them. If I had it my way, they would have nothing that plugs in. No Wii. No DS. No Playstation. No freakin' CABLE.
"So take it all away!" you say. "It's just that easy!" Oh, how I would love to. But it's not that easy. Long ago, I caved to the pressure. Just a little. Enough to say OK, I'm hip to the latest fads, but not enough to go stand in line when the newest version rolls out (yes, I know parents who did this.) And I've certainly never given them something "just because they wanted it." It was a gift, or they payed for part of it.
Now I pay for the rest of it.
Here was my theory. When my kids were little and I had these ludicrous pipe dreams of raising them to be selfless, level-headed children, before society hit them up and let them know they were inexplicably living an Amish life, I took a Sunday School course at my church. Some video of some guy teaching you how to parent. He recommended, "If you want to know where your teenager is, make your house the coolest place to be." Made sense. And I did want to know where he was, and who is friends were. What I wasn't prepared for is what it would TAKE to make my house "the coolest place to be." Some of his friends had so much STUFF that there was NO WAY I could - or wanted to - compete. Flat screen TV in your room? Uh, NO. Computer with Internet access in your room? NOT ON YOUR LIFE. In fact, my son thinks we're living in the dark ages because I refuse to get WiFi. Well, what's the difference between NOT having a computer in your room but having a phone/iTouch with WiFi access?
And video games? We have a PS2. But we don't have a PSwhateverthehellnumberthey'reonnow. Why? Because I can't keep up. And I am ignorant to the reasons why the PSwhateverthehellnumberthey'reonnow is so much better (and more expensive) than the one we have.
And speaking of games? Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, Halo.... NOT happening in my house. Sorry. Oh, the neighbor boy has them? Greeeeeat. There's nothing cooler than overhearing your son whisper to his friend on the phone, "Can I come over? My mom doesn't ALLOW shooting games."
I wonder if those moms bake homemade chocolate chip cookies and take them down to the basement where her kids are bloodletting the living crap out of each other on a seizure-inducing screen. How much you wanna bet that mom doesn't have a CLUE what they're playing, or the extent of the violence.If she did, how could she possibly let her sons even LOOK at that crap? My son says, "Mom, everybody does it. Everybody has those games. Everybody plays them." FINE, I say. I can't keep you from playing at your friend's house, but I can sure as HELL not propagate it in mine.
I'm off track now. My point is, it's garbage and they don't need it. Yes, they WANT it. And sometimes we have things we WANT but don't NEED. But to me, this crap isn't one of them. Freakin' GO OUTSIDE and have an adventure, for God's sake. The earth is still the same earth as it was when we were kids. Creeks still exist. Forts can still be made. Frogs can still be caught. When did sitting in front of a screen become MORE FUN than that? WHO STARTED THIS????? And WHY??????
Two things will happen here. The first is that I will have made these things so taboo that by the time they get out on their own they will do nothing more than go to work (hopefully) and come home and play video games. They will become pasty and fat and never get married or have children and will be known as "that creepy guy who never mows his lawn and never comes out of his house except to go to work." OR - and this is what I'm hoping for - they grow up and realize that some of life's new little technologies are HUGE TIME SUCKERS and that there's more to life. They'll get great jobs, marry great women, and have beautiful grandchildren who they will raise in a similar matter. And we'll sit around at Thanksgiving dinner and laugh at the stories of days like today, and they'll hug me and say, "You were so right, Mom. Thanks."
Like Veruca Salt, I want that. "I WANT IT NOW."