Monday, August 20, 2007

Want. Want, Want

Today I drove to Macon to meet a friend's one week old baby girl. She's adorable, and they're both doing well. While I was driving down I began thinking about all of the things we teach children--both intentionally and unintentionally. Unfortunately our intent often doesn't make a difference in how the lesson is perceived and retained as I am sometimes reminded when I see my nieces mimicking something they've observed me saying or doing. And it's one of the reasons I hate those stupid Bratz dolls (for those of you who are unfamiliar--imagine Barbie becomes a hooker and gets a teenager's attitude) and Junie B. Jones books (in which the main character seems to be completely incapable of correctly conjugating a verb). And this fact is a reason I think who spends time with children is so important. I've heard people say that "anyone can change a diaper"--hinting at what they really want to say: why would an educated, intelligent parent want to stay at home with his or her child? But in light of all that children learn from those they spend time with that statement seems awful short-sighted and ignorant. There's just so many "teachable moments" that obviously who does the teaching is important.

Of course, our society doesn't really lend itself to parents taking time off to stay at home. Sure, it's quite possible for some couples, but with a large number of single parents it's not feasible for many. And a lot of us don't want to give up the SUV, restaurant meals, vacations, and what not. It's amazing what all we think we "need." And somehow it's never quite enough.

As amazing as my recent trip was, I cannot wait to take another one and am filled with major wanderlust. And as many clothes as I have, I somehow still find myself browsing online. Want, want, want. It sort of reminds me of my oldest niece who has so many toys that an entire room is devoted to them--not to mention the toys outside, Gameboy, and whatnot. Yet she constantly whines that she's bored.

How can those of us with so much still want more? How can I complain when my problems are all related to wants and not needs? Sometimes I think that we feel justified in wanting or complaining because we have less than someone else (like Bill Gates...or our neighbor) despite the fact that most of us, as Americans (as well as my one Canadian reader), have so very much. Just by virtue of the fact that I have a laptop and internet access, you know I'm not struggling for the essentials of food, water, and shelter. So I wonder what exactly we're teaching children by our endless accumulation of stuff despite our possession of so much.

Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't take long drives because it leads to this sort of neverending type of question.

p.s. I'm thankful for the perfect health of little Sophia.

22 comments:

brandy said...

Well said lady. It's perfect timing that you posted this- after your last comment I was struck by how ridiculous it was that my biggest complaint in life is that I bought disappointing mascara. Posts like these keep me in check and help remind me that I can live without wants. (As for the Bratz dolls... oh man! It's insane how many kids in the schools I teach at love them. And when your role model is looks like she's emaciated and has more makeup than a clown, we are in troubled times)

A Life Uncommon said...

A post that helps us all keep perspective... thank you.

Scotty said...

Totally agree with everything you said. Children, especially when young, are so much more perceptive than everyone thinks they are. They learn by imitating. A parent that is there for their child will see themselves in their child, which I see when I think of my parents.

Thomas said...

Neverending questions can remind us how we don't know everything about ourselves.

Ally said...

Thomas: Excellent point.

Scotty: You're right. And I love how children's somewhat simple perception can result in such honest and on target commentary.

a life uncommon: Thank you.

Brandy: I complain about dumb things--but I've tried to get in the habit of stopping and really thinking and then I just feel super grateful that my biggest problems just involve wants...like a really good mascara:) Oh, and apt description of the Bratz dolls.

Still just me said...

I too hate the Bratz dolls, and I refuse to buy them. I also do not allow the little "hot pants" for little girls that have "cutie" or "hot chick" written across the butt.

AaroN said...

What if that statement meant: Anyone is capable of changing diapers (except for those in diapers and quadriplegics, I guess...) but not everyone is capable of raising a child? But anyway, I’m totally with you on that one. We all have our own definitions of want/need. For me, I’ll be giving up a few things I want, but don’t need. I don’t need cable/internet. I need that $130 a month I’ve been pissing away on such luxuries.

e.b. said...

It is truly helpful to replay that question from time to time. Weed out your wants vs. your realistic needs. I too get bogged down in the minute and the details and asking that question brings it all back to perspective.

A Life Uncommon said...

It's human nature to want things our eyes see... good for you for thinking about what is really important in the long run.

Ys said...

I totally agree with what you wrote. I think more people should stay at home when they have children - it would make the world a very different place. But don't get me started on rants about today's parents...

I think it's healthy to want stuff but you just need to know what you actually need. If you can get that sorted I think it makes for a happy life :)

allbilly said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerism

Princess Extraordinaire said...

What a great post...very well put..I agree with you as I see my nephew and his accumulation of *things* he wants, not needs, and hope he will grow up mindful of the difference

icadle said...

I want a new laptop...

ella said...

I've learned that the more money you make, the more things you want. This is why even with a huge pay raise, I'm still broke all the time.

Clearlykels said...

In college, during my Gender Studies class I wrote a paper and tore apart those Bratz Dolls. It has been a while, but I tore apart their oversexualized lips, eyes-- I went after the exposed midriff and tiny nose. I talked about how even though they come in color they do not represent actual cultural ideals of beauty. I attacked the supposed age of the doll vs the amount of makeup on the doll. You know, the only thing I could not touch is the huge feet-- seriously, what is that???

It was a very cathardic paper to write.

It takes a lot to be a parent and it is an important job. My dad has an ongoing list of people who should not be parents... He has very high standard about things like that. Of course, he even stayed home with me when I was a tiny baby-- way before SAHD were ok.

Ally said...

Clearlykels: That sounds like my kind of paper! And my kind of father--that's awesome. I imagine being a parent is the hardest job in the world, and I agree that certain people ought never take the position.

Ella: I think you're right. I resolved to never "realize" my raises and just put the difference in savings.

Ivy: I'll bet you do Mr. Self Insurer:)

Princess E: There are so many toys now that I think children feel deprived when they don't have all of them!

Billy: Yep. My great uncle has said for years that consumerism is the most popular religion in America.

YS: I agree about the parents. It also seems like a lot of people now have a hard time understanding that it is loving to discipline a child and giving someone whatever they want at the age of 5 is NOT the most loving choice.

a life uncommon: Agreed. I'm constantly fighting some of my human desires.

e.b.: It is helpful, and it keeps me grateful.

Aaron: You're right...it's funny how we often do not consider things like cable, Tivo, and internet as luxuries, but they really are.

Still Just Me: Seriously...why would a parent want to buy clothing that draws attention to their child's behind? And who buys these young girls the thongs that hang out of the top of their jeans?

cdp said...

I hate those damn Bratz dolls too.

My boys have so many toys . . . it drives me insane. But, having been the only grandchildren on either side of the family for 5/7 years, it goes with the territory I guess. I have asked my in-laws every year to lay off the toy purchashing, but they totally ignore me.

At any rate, my children both pick out a few toys once a month or so to donate to the outreach program at our church. They have now gotten to the point that they'll volunteer things on their own, saying they think a poor child would appreciate it more than they do. These moments warm my heart.

Ally said...

Cindy: I'm such a fan of the giving away toys, instilling at an early age that we should give back. How cool that your boys are internalizing the valuable lessons you're teaching them. Yeah for you mom!

Thomas said...

There is more where that came from, Ally.

Flat Coke and Flies said...

I have the same problem. All the things I stress over are WANTS, not NEEDS. I get my bills paid but I WANT so many more material things that I can't get right now.

So glad you're moving here...we will have to get Tortious to come up and visit us.

nicole d. said...

Wow! I am your only Canadian reader! I went to Jamaica this past spring and when I came home all I could think of, and still to an extent, is that I have way too much stuff. Useless stuff. And how the friends we made in Jamaica were such happy people with next to nothing. There is something wrong with this picture.

Ally said...

Nicole: I must have two Canadian readers! You and Brandy, I think. And people in other countries are a good reminder of how much we do not need and how happiness cannot be found in material possessions.

FC&F: It'd be fun to meet you and Tortious! Get her to come up, and I'm game.

Thomas: Indeed.