Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Thief of Joy

An explosion happened at my house this morning.
If you live in my neighborhood you probably heard it. Sorry about that.
I've seen it brewing.
Like that zit on your face, the one that feels like Mt Everest, but doesn't have a head on it. I tried to pop this problem prematurely, with lots of loving words like, "comparison if the thief of joy" and "even mom and dad don't have everything". All to no avail. This morning. This morning the zit came to a huge ugly head, was popped, and left that giant open crater of hurt.
It went something like this.

Dade: Mom I REALLY need new shoes. These ones have a hole too.

Me: Yeah I noticed that. I'm sorry we've just been really busy. I promise we'll go to the store this week and get you new ones.

Dade: So, like what's my budget for new shoes? Like $100?

Me: Uh, no....

Dade: (huge huffy sigh) Yeah I figured. So like $50 then?

Me: Babe try $30.

(At this point the color is rising in his cheeks, his little hands are clenched, and I can see tears forming in his eye)

Me: Dade honey what kind of shoes were you wanting?

Dade: IT'S NOT FAIR! EVERYONE AT SCHOOL WEARS NIKE SHOES AND I HAVE TO WEAR CRAPPY SHOES! YOU NEVER BUY ME THE GOOD SHOES!

Me: Dade please don't shout at me we can talk about this. The shoes you have are Adidas, so I don't think it's fair to say I "never buy you cool shoes".

Dade: Mom no one wears Adidas anymore. Adidas is stupid. All the kids at school have Nike and you'll never buy me Nike shoes cause they are like $100! (spies his sister on the floor with her iPod) And Mom I just REALLY need an iPod for middle school.

Me: Dade you do not need an iPod for middle school.

Dade: Yes I do! YOu just don't understand! I can use it to check my grades..

Me: (I should add that now my sympathy for his plight is waning and I am becoming genuinely annoyed at his materialistic attitude. But because I am a "good" mom and the struggle is real, I am trying to stay calm) Daden if you need to check your grades you can do it when you get home. Or *gasp* you could actually talk to your teacher.

Dade: Mom that's just dumb.

Me: No Dade, wanting something because "everyone else has it" is dumb. If you spend all your time being jealous of what other people have you will never enjoy what you have. (Eye rolling from my prenager) It's true. Mom and dad can't have everything either and we're adults. For instance I drives an older car. It's dirty, and dinged up. My automatic doors don't work but it runs well and takes us where we need to go. Aunt Dani has a new car with automatic doors that work and a super cool GPS system. It's clean and shiny. Does that mean that I should be envious and go spend $50K  on a new van?

Dade: No.

Me: Well why not? Dani's car is nicer than mine! For that matter let's look at Gramma and Papa! They have a big beautiful house with a huge yard and a hot tub! We have a small house and a small yard. Should I be envious and go buy a new house?

Dade: No I like our house! (I find this shocking because not having his own room has been the subject of many spirited debates)

Me: Well there you have it. We choose to be thankful for what we have and can afford rather then being envious and always sad that we can't have what others have. If it's  something you just can't live without then you save your pennies until you can have it.

Dade: I knew talking to you wouldn't help. I knew you wouldn't get them for me. I just can't have anything.

Me: I'm really sorry that you feel that way, but I'm not sorry that I can't buy you everything thing you want. It breaks my heart to see you sad, but I know that having everything won't make you happy.

Dade: (stomp stomp stomp huff door slam)

You guys #thestruggleisreal trying to teach my kids that they don't have to have everything is one of the most exhausting parts of my day. Truthfully I feel bad that I can't give them everything they want. It hits a nerve, I was that kid that didn't have the cool clothes and the coolest toys. I remember. Don't get me wrong I had nice things and my parents worked damn hard to provide them for me. But it didn't feel that way in the moment.
I think today's children are different. Society is different. There are so many more THINGS we "need" to have. They live in an instant society and are constantly bombarded by a stream of new now and better. I'm sure it's as exhausting for them as constantly explaining why we can't have it all is for me.
I'm trying. I really trying my very best to walk the line of giving them what they need balanced by a little of what they want. It's so. damn. hard.

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