We’re lucky to live in an affulent area. Actually, it’s got nothing to do with luck. It’s been due to sheer hard work, borrowing every last cent we could from the bank, and carrying a fairly hefty mortgage. To us it’s worth the effort though, because living a short stroll from the beach is, quite simply, idyllic.
Our house is an old, weatherboard californian bungalow that is falling apart faster than we can fix it. But it has good bones and we have plans to renovate properly, one day. Dozens of design magazines have been earmarked for when the time comes. In the meantime, we do bits & pieces to it when we can…and a whole lot of dreaming!
There’s inspiration on our doorstep too. Our humble little abode is surrounded by some truly stunning homes. Two types impress me the most: the big rambling californian bungalows that have been renovated to perfection; and the new, ultra-modern homes that overlook the bay – some of them just sleek walls of glass from the front.
But I digress. Architecture aside, let’s talk kids and toys.
With Christmas fast approaching (how did that happen??) I’ve started thinking about some new toys for the kids. I’m slightly panicky about it as yet again, I find myself completely disorganised and am looking down the barrel of another mad last-minute Christmas shop..
It’s fairly apparent around these parts, kids generally don’t want for much. Especially the kids from wealthier families whose parents aren’t short of a quid. Mr.4 is now at the age where he’s just beginning to notice what other kids have. The ”I want”-s and ”but why can’t I have”-s have started up, much to my dismay. Mostly I can nip this in the bud by doing a quick count of his pocketmoney, explaining he’s a bit short, but if he keeps saving up he’ll be able to buy that toy. There’s usually a bit of sulking, but he sucks it up pretty well.
However, what if the pocketmoney comes nowhere near covering certain toys?
Recently we were visiting some neighbours, who have boys aged six and nine. Mr.4 wandered in and caught sight of their playroom – or should I say, Legoland: I’m certain that every concievable boys Lego model was in that room. There were constructed spacecrafts and planes hanging from the ceiling, tanker trucks, huge Lego scenario models – the airport and fire station. Some Lego rollercoaster thing that they’d built which was taller than Mr.4 himself.
But the pièce de résistance was the Lego trainset model. On a large table it handsomely sat, with three trains – red, white and yellow – and at least one was electric. There were train stations and signals and all the cute little Lego people waiting for the train on their little seats, and little Lego trees! Squeee! — ok ok, I kinda loved it too. Mr.4’s eyes almost fell out of his head and for the entire afternoon, I couldn’t get him out of that room. My little trainspotter had found himself a brand new love, and he wasn’t leaving our neighbour’s house that day without a fight.
Mr.4 recently graduated from Duplo to Lego, so I thought a Lego train would be a good long-term toy for him. Perhaps Santa would bring one, or two this year…I guess we’d also need at least one train station. We need to create the ‘scene’, of course. So I hopped online and had a look.
And then the eyes nearly fell out of my head. These two babies? Well they’d set Santa back around $480:
This is without considering what Santa might bring Mr.1 – and as Santa is all for equality between siblings, that puts us close to the $1K mark this Christmas. HO HO HO!
That’s me laughing, not Santa.
I suspect quelling kids’ desires for more ”stuff” is becoming increasingly difficult for parents in today’s society. We live in a world where your latest gadget can be outdated within a week and where consumerism is rife.
Add to that our AU-US dollar exchange rate (that hasn’t been this strong since 1983!) in the lead up to Christmas, and Santa could easily be busier than ever this year.
What I’m left wondering is, when is enough enough? How do you say no to your kids when their friends have every handheld game and scooter and Lego set known to man? I don’t want to deny my kids, but at the same time, I’m sure as hell not going to raise spoilt brats either.
Actually, let me rephrase that last question. I’m capable of saying no to my kids. But I want it to be an effective no: one that they understand the reasons behind, because they can see the bigger picture. I want my boys to know the value of possessions, and as they grow up, are aware they lead a very blessed and enviable life. I’ve ranted and raved said this to my husband many times over. Compared to our childhoods, they’ve got it easy.
How do you instill this awareness in your kids…be able to say no to things and have them understand, without them hating you? I guess in the years to come it’s one of the things we’ll be trying to work out. Ah parenting….it’s no walk in the park.
So what will be Santa bringing this year? Well maybe I’ll figure that out with 99% of the population, on Christmas Eve!