Gimme Gimme Gimme

This weekend:

Z, gazing at a Toys-R-Us circular: "I wanna put that on my wish list. And that on my wishlist. And that and that and THAT on my wish list......"

CBHM, holding head in both hands: How did I get here?


It all started this summer. We were purchasing A LOT of things for our new house and there were more than a few new toy-like-items purchased to ease the stress of traveling and transitioning to a new life. For a while there, it seemed every week included the purchase of something NEW and EXCITING for Z. So, of course, she started thinking this was the New World Order and decided she would get in on the decision making with her own requests.

Every trip to Target, every trip to the grocery store, every package that arrived on our doorstep, all were opportunities for her to MELT THE F*#$ DOWN about wanting something new and fun for her. So CG and I started searching for ways to help with the inevitable "I WANT THAT" meltdowns. I started telling Z that we can't buy everything we see and want but sometimes it's fun to think about what we might want and put it on a "wish list". Then, when a holiday is coming up or, eventually when she has her own money, she can decide which things she might like the most.

While a success in reducing Target meltdowns, this tactic has had an unfortunate side effect: the aforementioned, EVER PRESENT "I want to put that on my wish list" pronouncements. They seem harmless at first. "Sure, we'll put that on your wish list", I say, barely registering whatever the hell plastic hoo-ha she's talking about this time. But it's a little embarrassing to walk through the drug store and have her running in front of me ORDERING everything on the shelves for her "wish list".

Have I really taught her materialistic little mind anything, except maybe to covet things MORE?

Last week, she caught glimpses of TV advertisements (That's right, I was using TV as a babysitter and there's no way to cut out the ads on the end of Tivo'd Dora and I was still knee deep in laundry by the time I figured it out and I AM ON THE DARK DARK SIDE NOW.) and immediately hollered out: "MOM! I WANT THAT! ADD THAT TO MY WISH LIST!!".

So I decided not to lecture her about talking to me like a servant and instead sat down next to her on the couch, turned off the TV, and talked to her about how advertisements try to trick you into wanting to buy things, that many of those things aren't that great anyway and we won't be watching advertisements anymore.

Fast forward to today.

Z: "Mom! My program's over! Can you come and turn it off so I won't be tempted by the ad'tisements?!?"

I guess that's some progress.


Hillary said...

ha! I loved the punchline of this post. Just the fact that you're talking to her about advertising and not getting everything she wants puts you -- and her -- ahead of the curve as far as warding off materialism is concerned.

Fran said...

Ah, yes...the small victories :)

miyoko said...

yeah P wants "EVERY toy they make for her my little ponies" and "the GIANT cupcake baking pan" (a cake disguised as a GIGANTIC cupcake) they advertise during one of her shows.

at least she doesn't show any interest in the hair replacement therapies, the nair, and the other totally inappropriate things they advertise when she's watching maisy, or dora. sheesh.

i have to say that's one thing that makes me LOOOOOVE nick jr. (previously noggin) totally commercial free. why ALL kid channels can't do this is beyond me.

p is just starting the 'let's buy a toy' thing and we've had many "we can't buy a toy EVERY time we go shopping discussions. oy.

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

I think you are doing just fine on this topic even though it can be annoying. It is the age. M still rarely watches TV (not because we are so strict, but because we are too cheap in a recession to buy one for the family room) and goes nuts when the xmas toy catalogs arrive. I thought this would be the first year we could write a letter to Santa. Nope. She will put EVERYTHING on the list. Also, it felt like M was getting A LOT of stuff this summer as well. Not sure why that happened. I am trying to dial back so Xmas still feels special.

Marie Green said...

Oh, I hate my kids to see commercials too. HATE.

My kids just discovered the Disney channel. Nuf said.

KG said...

There is a video series that has been screened around here a bunch lately that might interest you: http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=525-S-D

Not sure if it offers strategies for talking to kids or just enumerates all the horrible things corporations are doing to create a culture of WANT... I guess that would be important to know before sitting down to a relaxing evening of guilt-induced panic...

At a recent birthday dinner for our six year old goddaughter, she turned to her mom after receiving many lovely gifts and said, "I wish there were MORE presents for me!" At which point, her mother, my dear friend, bless her heart, silently grimaced, gritted her teeth and later lamented to us. It seemed to me that I sometimes feel the same way! Want more goodies! I love presents, and can get hooked on "treats" for myself as easily as any 3 (or six) year old. I guess acknowledging the intensity of WANTING seems important, and then discussing what we do in the face of it... reminding ourselves of what we really enjoy most, etc. It seems like Z is learning great skills, perhaps now PRIORITIZING what goes on the list, or keeping a MENTAL list..

Existential Waitress said...

My kids are the same way. They want EVERYTHING they see - even the QVC type stuff like "The Perfect Pancake" and "The Snuggie."

Michelle said...

Oh, that's funny. At least you know she was listening. I actually had to do this with my husband. He wants to buy EVERYTHING for our daughter when we are out. I explained to him that while it might seem harmless now, wait when she's older and expects something every time.

Good Enough Mom said...

My son grabs every catalog that comes in the mail, to see what's in it that he may want for his wish list. Last week, he circled EVERY ITEM in a toy catalog. And it was a pretty hefty catalog. Oy. Feel ya.

Swistle said...

My kids are TEH SAME. The older ones are so much easier to talk to about it.

Amie said...

Adorable. Really, I like Z's way of thinking. This post cracked me up. You obviously are getting through to her. That has to feel good???

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