• Oliver Messner

The Cost

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

If there is one thing I am guilty of, one thing I fail miserably at controlling, it's spoiling my kids. I just can't help myself and nine times out of ten times end up getting them something. If I come to think about it, it's basically an addiction. Even if money is a bit tight, I rather go without and get something for the girls. Do other people include this in their budget and if so, how the hell do they manage that? One of the problems with this is that the kids have gotten a bit blase about most things. They'll be over the moon when they get a new toy or other gimmick and most often loose interest seemingly faster than it took me to buy the item at the shops and bring it home.

Not long ago, we immigrated to another country and we were not going to take all of our belongings with us. So we started going through the girls things, dividing everything into keep and donate piles. The amount of things that the girls have managed to acquire in a relatively short amount of time was just disgustingly ridiculous. Stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, baby dolls, Lego sets, ponies and weird, sparkly-pink-glittery things I don't even have a name for. Then there were the gadgets and tech: T.V., PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Nintendo 3ds, leapfrog, tablet and the list goes on and on. I did a quick, rough mental calculation on how much that stuff had cost and almost lost my lunch. I am convinced I could buy a very decent used car for that amount of money, one that would be used all the time, appreciated for what it was and not left abandoned and forgotten like most of the kids toys are prone to end up being.

Kids are masters of getting what they want ... at least mine are. Kira, my eldest has perfected the art of pleading. Through a carefully thought out combination of begging, persistence, perseverance, fact and downright haggling, she usually gets what she wants. I have sometimes burst out laughing, as she proceeded to explain why she needs a ( insert generic, overpriced toy here ). With eloquence and reasoning of a kind that only a child can conjure, she explains why she must have it and if the universe were in anyway a fair place ( she'll figure this one out when she's older ), she should get it. I am ashamed to say that I usually fold under these circumstances but am actively learning to employ counter tactics to employ at these times. Coming up with my own reasons for why she does not need said item and why the world will not end if she does not get it. The ensuing dialogue is often hilarious and generally gets people laughing in spite of themselves.

Another lesson I have learned the hard way, one that should be in a handbook handed out to new parents, is this : do not ever, in any way, shape or form enter a toy store with your kids! Basic parenting 101. In my opinion, this equates to passing through a portal straight to the underworld. There should be signs up before entering these stores, ' Dear patron, it is advised to check your soul at the door, you will not be needing it during your visit and can safety collect it when exiting our premises. Thank you for visiting'. Or something along those lines. It took a few tries before I decided to never again partake in this horrendous activity and trips to a toy store now only get done by adults.

I have gotten somewhat better at not buying every single thing for the girls and now evaluate items before I purchase them. That in no way means that I have stopped spoiling my kids, which I probably never will but I try to keep the spoiling to more acceptable levels. This attitude in turn teaches the kids a valuable lesson, saves quite a bit of money and to a certain extent, helps keep my sanity intact.

It's a fact that children get spoiled rotten, left, right and center. The media plays a huge roll in dictating what kids want and conversely what kids think they need. There is nothing wrong with spoiling your loved ones but I think there should be a limit somewhere. It seems like I see people gifting their loved ones with more insane, useless junk every time I turn around and ironically, spend less time with their family. Either being at work all the time, rather spending time on their smartphones and tablets, surfing Facebook, You Tube, binge watching Netflix or any other number of media that is the current craze. All instead of spending some quality time with their children, and thinking that all of that is alright because they just bought them the newest toy or gimmick, so they'll be entertained enough anyway. I understand being tired and having had a stressful, long day at work. For most people that's a big part of what being an adult is about. All I want to do is come home and relax, not listen to the kids ramble on and on about whatever pops into their inquisitive little mind..... but I try my best and do listen, because I think that's a big part of what being a parent is about.

My father is the hardest working person I have ever met. While growing up, he would often be gone from home for weeks at a time, working his hands to the bone to provide for his family. When he came home, so tired he could hardly see straight, he always brought along small gifts for his family and then, instead of falling over backwards into bed and passing out, he spent as much time as possible with his kids. That's what I respect about him the most and why, to this day, he is my best friend. That's how I want my girls to see me. A father to look up to, someone they can respect and talk to, not just a walking checkbook that buys them all the latest and greatest stuff.

I'm sure other dad's have had similar experiences and would love to hear about them.

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