Okay, so as a mother to my daughter, one question I’ve consistently asked myself is – ‘How much is too much?’ What began with my excitement at having a baby and going out and buying those tiny things has percolated down to my little one too. And I can’t blame her really.
With so much consumerism happening these days, and with markets and malls cramping the little minds and visions with so many lovely things to choose from, there has to be a reaction, right?
Of course, I acknowledge the fact that these days most young parents have a bigger spending capacity and tendency than parents from the previous generation. While our parents may not have had to lug us around the mall to find that perfect dress or that new Barbie that’s an absolute necessity since so-and-so-friend-has-it-and-didn’t-share-it, they had the quintessential local neighbourhood market to go to. I remember how my brother and I would go with my parents on such weekend treats to the markets, holding on tightly to our parents’ hands, looking at the wonderful things hanging from the shop fronts and displayed around the entrance.
If you remember the neighbourhood markets of earlier (I’m referring the ones I used to visit in Delhi, but I’m sure it wasn’t been quite different in any other city), then you sure remember that the display style used to be pretty much this – some special toys hanging from the shop awning and other special toys displayed near the entrance to make you want to get inside and check out more stuff. My parents were from the typical middle-class working community, and I’m happy and proud to say even today, that though me and my husband may have a lot of spending capacity and we literally buy the best and the most expensive things our daughter may need, our thoughts and mentality are still very middle-class, very grounded, and very much connected to our roots – and that’s how our children’s thinking will be.
So, coming back to the question of ‘how much is too much’ – I was having this conversation with my five-year-old daughter some time back, and she came up with answers and solutions that left me smiling, amused, and thinking at really how naïve our little ones are, and how the media and the mall-mentality plays into their little minds.
My daughter’s especially fond of books (she absolutely cannot overlook the bookstores in a mall and will sit and cry for hours holding a book if she feels we won’t buy it for her and that she’s going to be parted from it!) and her latest craze is also (much to my dismay!) Barbies!
So some time back after a particularly heart-wrenching-and-others-staring-at-us-bad-parents scene involving my daughter and a Barbie doll at one of the stores, I sat her down at home and had a ‘talk’. I told her that she already has much more than lot of other kids her age do, and of course too much more than the kids we see on the streets. She didn’t have an answer to that, and the mommy in me was feeling proud at my smartness! Then she said ‘but mamma, I can share these with my friends na, they will also like it!’ Hmm..I knew she wouldn’t let me relish the moment for long.
I told her that things cost money, and that mamma-papa may not always want to spend so much money on these, or we may not even have the money to spend. She didn’t even have to think this one out. Her response – ‘Mamma, you can always go to Axis bank! They will give you the money and you can buy my books and Barbie.’ (Reference to Axis bank as they have recently come up with a lot of new ads, and it somehow gave my daughter the impression that walking into a bank means a smiling uncle or aunty who will hand out cash to you! I’m still in search of ‘that’ Axis Bank). And the next response was of course ‘Mamma, ATM haina. Let’s go to the ATM machine and we can get lots of money.’ Wow! Now, what do I tell her?
That part is still unsorted. So what we decided mutually is this – for some time now, she’s only allowed any one thing a month, either a book, or a toy. And that too, not a Barbie each time. Also, we tell her an amount within which she can buy, and anytime she picks up something she can check the number written on it (amount) and see for herself if it fits or not. She has of course said ‘okay’, but I’ve had enough ‘okay’s’ from her that have been followed by those scary episodes at the book/doll aisles of the stores. So, fingers crossed!
Debolina Raja Gupta loves being a mommy and best friend to her 5-year old princess. A working mom, voracious reader, social activist, photographer, poet, travel freak, beauty writer and an everything-of-sorts. Best fun is story time and our fashionista time together. My blogs: The Book Worm, A Few Thoughts Here And There, My Little One And Me, Beauty Makeup And More.