I consider myself to be a pretty level-headed gal – I don’t get overly emotional or upset (unless I really have to) and I try my very best not to judge others too harshly. However, I overheard something the other day that seriously made my skin crawl and I just have to rant and rave a bit on it.
I was walking into Costco (that glorious warehouse where I feel I don’t belong seeing as how there is just me and my son at home and not twenty kids) and I saw a mother walking out, holding her wailing child of about 4 or 5 and repeatedly telling her, “Mommy would love to get whatever you want, precious. I wish I had all the money in the world and I would buy you everything you wanted and you wouldn’t have to be sad. If we were really rich we could buy…” and that’s where her conversation trailed off and I couldn’t hear her anymore.
First off, yeeechhhh! This was my first reaction – along with a gagging reflex that turned up somehow. I don’t understand why parents today feel the need to oversaturate their child with gifts – you know, those “things” that will all make us happy and wonderful model citizens because we have everything our heart desires. What bothered me the most about this incident is that she is helping to reinforce to her daughter that life is all peaches and cream when you can have whatever you want. And most assuredly, money will help you get there.
Now, I’m not condemning her to some all-time list of “Bad-mothers-who-are-raising-rotten-children-who-don’t-appreciate-anything”. But I just wanted to make a point. We live in a society where He who has the most wins. Our possessions, the objects that fill our lives, have become a defining factor in who we are as people. No longer do you need to just be a good person to garner the respect of others. Ha! We wear our status on our sleeves (or rather, breast pockets) or with our cars, homes, travel logs, and excessive amount of toys. Somehow, having all this stuff tells us something about the person who owns (or who is involved in multi-year payment plan at 13.5% interest) them.
One of my favorite books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. In it, the pilot describes how nowadays people are very concerned with “matters of consequence”. When you meet somebody new or ask about an acquaintance, you ask “What does he do? How much money does he make?” This doesn’t really tell you about a person. Why don’t they ask “What’s his favorite color? How tall is he? What color are his eyes? What’s his favorite music?” And so on (I ad-libbed a bit there). For me, I’d rather people knew me and liked me for what I love to do – running, playing with Caden, traveling, reading/writing, painting/being creative – instead of what I own (“she has a very nice townhouse/she shops at Ann Taylor”).
I hope that I am teaching my son these types of life lessons, not that he could have whatever he wanted if we only were millionaires. Do I wish I had more money like that woman? Ummm, duh. But I don’t want my son observing or thinking that is my only pursuit in life or that you can’t find happiness unless you can buy anything in the world. He’s happy just hunting down ladybugs.