Sunday, July 05, 2009

I want, I want, I want

The brat is fast becoming a material kid, and no one is to blame but me. Therefore when this email bulletin came in from Parent Center, I read through it avidly. I'm so in agreement of what it says, and I've realised I do follow most of the tips it recommends.

The brat is encouraged to give. Every couple of months, I sit with him and churn out the clothes and books he has outgrown, the toys he no longer plays with or which he has broken in some way, but are still usable, or crayons, sketchpens, pencils which are half used and which he does not use for whatever reason and sort them into sections. One part goes to the maid's son, because the child needs it. Some of the clothes and books and go to the pavement school children. He accompanies mamma to mamma's pavement schools and meets the children, he knows their names and he does feel awful that they sit on the road to study, even in the rains at times. And asks me why they dont have school bags and bring their books in plastic bags, and has graciously offered to have two of his old school bags given away. And he knows that for every new thing he buys, one old thing will be given away by Cruella de Ville mamma, and he has to tell me what needs to be given away before he can expect something new.

He is also on a budget. A new impulse buy toy is only within Rs 100. And he only gets one at a time. And therefore going shopping with Mamma is so not a prospect to be looked forward to. Pappa is a better opportunity to be milked. Pappa can be guilt tripped very easily. Beneath that gruff exterior lies a spendthrift of the worst order, whose reflex to empty out his wallet is easily triggered by spawn of his sperm gathering unto himself half the toyshelves and looking weepy and mournful at the thought of abandoning any of his spoils. He does know that he gets his choice of toys and clothes only during his birthday.

He also does know that if mamma tells him something is expensive and she cannot buy it for him, it is no use pushing the issue. He can roll on the floor all he wants, he can pound his chest, throw hopping tantrums but nothing will come of it. He now walks into small toy shops and asks the salespersons "Hundred rupees mein kya hain?" And knows that this is a treat he has to earn by either doing his classwork well, polishing his plate without dwaddling on it till lifeforms start sprouting on the contents, or being well behaved, the ways of which are multifarious and the decision to award a prize for good behavious resting with the jurisdiction of the mamma. Its hard work for him to convince mamma he's deserving of a good behaviour prize. And that not swatting a friend who refuses to play Power Rangers with him is not exactly grounds for a good behaviour prize.
He knows now that he cannot have a toy just like that. And treats are rare. He has to learn to look forward to them. A Happy Meal is probably once a month now. And eating out at a place of his choice is once in a couple of weeks.

Areas mamma really needs to work on are reduction of television viewing.The commercials are what are working on the child's mind making him believe that one more game of tumbling monkeys are just what is required to make his life perfect.

Mamma needs him to get to use his Power Ranger piggy bank for purposes other than storing dinky cars. Mamma really needs to work on him saving money and collecting enough to buy himself what he wants so he can value it. And working to earn the money he can drop into the piggy bank.

And most of all, Mamma needs to rein in her own spendthrift nature and remember that she really doesnt need one more pair of shoes, or another handbag, no matter how darling it is. Unless she sets a good example herself, how can she expect the brat to follow suit.

What the brat does get from mamma and pappa is lot of time and attention. Surely, that should be worth more than all the material possessions they could ever give him.

Mamma also tries hard to point out to him the luxuries he takes for granted, the cars, the school, the food on his plate. The brat has often been generous enough to offer the veggies on his plate to the hypothetical poor and starving. That doesnt cut any ice with Cruella de Ville Mamma. He is told that he has to clean his plate or be denied whatever treat he is expecting in terms of dessert. Throwing away food is not a good idea in the house of this mamma. Never mind if some adults within the house believe in junking left overs. Mamma, when she can, doggy bags them and hands them out at traffic signals to the beggars. The brat knows that there are people who are hungry and dont have the luxury of choice, either in food or clothes, toys being a far cry. Mamma is trying hard to encourage sensitivity towards the poor and deprived in the brat, but knows she has miles to go before that happens.

How do you inculcate thrift and value for things in your children? Do let me know. I could do with some simple and effective tips.


  1. mostly all of what you say.

  2. that was a brilliant post... hoping to use all the above mentioned with my little one

  3. I think you're doing a good job, you know.

  4. payal3:22 AM

    You know Kiran, i have noticed people go to malls way too often with kids..they barely go to parks, museums kind of outdoors and parents usually find the easy way out by taking kids to a large mall for ouutings. I definitely see this trend increasing and children are hence increasingly becoming shopping addicts.
    I agree to all the points you have made. When all the marketing is so hugely targeted at children we have to lead by example and do everything possible to make them learn to enjoy simpler things. I am sure you and i are from an era where we didnt have too many toys, we made our own toys, helped us be more creative. I keep thinking about how difficult it is becoming to do the same in this age. I absolutely feel its because we ourselves are becoming so materialistic, have too many gadgets, too many clothes, too many bags, thats why we are unable to lead by example.

  5. You are certainly putting in valuable efforts, Kiran.I'm sure they will bear fruit.

  6. You seem to be very together with your plan for a Kid friendly money education. Thanks for YOUR tips! Krish will totally grow up with a sense of what money can do for himself and for others he helps.

    Interesting enough I had just begun to write a post about a financial education for my kids. The thought to write about it came about because an unexpected expense reared it ugly head 2 weeks ago. A weather related "act of god" (according to the insurance company) means that we absolutely have to buy a new car. The process of doing that was somewhat of a financial education for my kids. Come by and read it in a few hours.

  7. This is awesome! There needs to be more Moms and kids like you two..

  8. K, I think you're doing fantastic. We took D-baby to a Mobile Creche right after his 5th birthday party so he could hand out clothes and biscuits to the children there and, hopefully, develop some sensitivity toward the less fortunate while we were at it.

  9. Just like you said it, moms set an example and children will follow and think that is the norm. We went to Disney World last Dec with my sister-in-law and she was so amazed that none of my children asked for any stuff toys or other things during the whole 2 week trip, when she herself was swooning over the lovely stuff toys. Even i was amazed at my children, i guess my lack of interest just rubbed on them. We do have 2 cartfuls of all imaginable stuff toys at home which they do pretend play with and still they didnt ask for any at the parks. My mom never per se told us to be frugal, but i guess her frugal living just rubbed off on us.

  10. I left a long comment on KiraninNYC's blog. Ohh I discontinued cable tv for the very same reasons. We now only have the local PBS channel which show kid friendly shows without any ads :)

  11. Anonymous8:16 PM

    We began living within a strict budget last year and the difference between what we used to spend and what we do now goes entirely to charity. It was hard at first but not anymore. V competes with us to find bargains and takes pride in saving more to give away every month. Last year we sponsored two nner city kids at his montessori school and it has done wonders for the sense of ownership V feels in their progress not to mention it is utterly awesome to see those tots flourishing just like V is entitled to.

    Less is truly more but I had to set a tough example first. Tough for me that is:-)


  12. thanks for this kiran. i keep feeling its a losing battle and that the world is out to frustrate all my efforts. people give so many gifts all around, i mean, i do it too, but one time a friend gave her this great big toy gun, and i was suitably appalled. till someone pointed out that it all started with me getting his kids some books nicely wrapped in crossword paper.

  13. Sue, Monika, Chox: :)

    Payal: Leading by example is the toughie. But what I am doing is cutting out the mall culture from our lives.

    Dipali: :)

    Another Kiran in NYC: Read your post,and yes, sometimes it does take the hand of god to make us tighten our belts....

    Rhea: Am sure there are. :)

    OJ: That is so wonderful....

    Mommydearest: Between the husband and me, I am the more frugal of the two. But I do know I could do better.

    Asaan: I wish I could do that here. The hubby and MIL would probably dismember me....

    Deepa: I agree completely. Its what I keep telling myself. How can I tell the child we cannot buy him one more toy when I shamelessly sashay off and pick myself new shoes or a bag or sunglasses. First I need to start with myself. And God knows, I'm trying.

    kbpm: LOL. True. We ourselves need to get a grip on this random gift giving business to start with, and maybe the kids will expect less.

  14. i think there are great tips Kiran! even i keep wondering how will Cubby know. ofcos we dont have no cable TV at home and visits to mall are minimal!

    we do buy him toys and mostly they are under 100bucks. all the fisher price in our ghar has been gifted to us or is hand me down!

    i am more of the spender, but M keeps that in check and we dont end up spending just because we can!

    ofcos now that he is growing up and knows he can throw a tantrum for something, things are defi gonna get interesting! :D


  15. Same here, between husband and me, i am the frugal of the two, but i can do way better. Right now he wants me to get the IPhone 3G and its taking every bit of resistance in me to say no the darling, the iphone i mean ;) !!

  16. "The brat has often been generous enough to offer the veggies on his plate to the hypothetical poor and starving. That doesnt cut any ice with Cruella de Ville Mamma"

    That's my kinda samaj sevak!! Way to go, baccha. Hilarious!!

  17. well its not the papa's fault.

    Fathers need adult supervision when it comes to shopping. You never know when a dad would go into the store with the child, telling him that he will buy just one toy, and come out of the store with one trolley full of toys.

    I love the idea of teaching the child at such an early age, the value of money. Only a mother can do that.

  18. Loved your post...totally agree on every point.

    Linked to you also :)