I had that typical middle-class adult dilemma this week – is it kitsch that my kids favourite activity is shopping? As soon as I mention it, I see the bright gleam in their eyes, the excitement..the quickening heartbeat and I know it has them in it’s tight, materialistic jaw..
We had to step into the lion’s lair this week to re-stock on socks and pants for school. But I went attempting a new regime..
I told them exactly what I was going to buy. Then anything over had to come out of their pocket money/christmas money/birthday money which they had to have in cash..no loans. Anything big and desirable went on birthday (not long till Charlie’s) or Christmas list.
The hardest thing is that I have to stick to the plan too – there’s lots of stuff I’d love to buy them. But what message does that give? I limited the extra’s to looking for a top for Charlie and a dress for Bella, both for Easter Sunday when we’re seeing relatives.
I know that if I think back through the mists of time, I can still remember that feeling of stepping into the equivalent of a sweetie shop – the seduction of it. And too often, when dealing with kids, you look at a situation through the knowing eyes of an adult, forgetting the journey it took to get there. It can’t be skipped just because you know the answer.
However, both my children have a fair amount to learn..money burns a hole in their pockets and the magpie tendencies are strong..
Though Charlie did boost his cash reserve by eating a clam. Bella refused. But it was their choice.
Naturally, they blew everything they had – Bella on stationary, Charlie on a puzzle toy and a hat..
We found him a brilliant top in Next for Easter – £14.99 and it looks like something by Ralph Lauren, and is beautifully lined in grey marl. He wanted to wear it straight away..the resulting mash-up amply demonstrates the preppy look his mother would love him to embrace..and the secret clubber within..
Bella bought a dress from Marks and Spencer that fluttered her mother’s heart..black with a peter pan collar. I’ll take a picture on Sunday.
Of course now, for the lesson to be fully learnt, having blown all their money, I have to take them shopping again so they can know what it’s like to want something and not be able to buy it. That big gulf between need and want. That special emotion that can be one of the world’s best motivators…you want it, you earn it..you save for it. You spend it on what you really want, not the fluff inbetween..learn the difference between the diamonds and the fools gold…you want more? Find a way..work hard..make it happen.
Laters, Kate x
Inevitably, in Edinburgh we went shopping – not so much for me mind you, but for the kids..and in particular Charlie..
Our first stop was Zara – Eagle-eyed Bella spotted a dress there..and given she’s a girl that never wears dresses it was nothing short of a miracle and a slam dunk purchase; Grandma said she’s buy it for her birthday in October but she was allowed to wear it to the party. Then she spotted a sky blue cardigan and matching hat..I succumbed in a hazy cloud of steam train nostalgia……she looked like something straight out of the Railway Children..
Then Charlie piped up…’But I want a fluffy cardigan too’ ‘Do you really?’ I asked, ‘Shall we check out the boys department?’..’But I want that one’ he said, pointing to a girl’s navy blue version…so I thought, why not?
And he looked so fab! It’s not like he’s effeminate – I couldn’t care if he was – but the truth is he makes these choices (necklaces, rings..and neon pink toe nails this summer complete with gems!) and is still masculine which is part of what really makes me smile..it’s his ability to happily go beyond societies invisible boundaries and just not care.
We walked into another shop – and Charlie made a bee-line for a pink faux fur coat with grey leopard print…there are many times in life where you really have to think about what you want for your kids. My golden rules is I want them to have the confidence, freedom – composure even, to be themselves and follow their own path no matter what..
So I told him to try it on…and hand on heart – he looked edible (I have no picture – I had no batterie left. It’s a regret) – but more men need/should wear faux fur – yet I knew there was an invisible line that would be crossed if we purchased it, and I had to make sure he was up for it – the last thing you want is for your child to be ridiculed, particularly for being such a sparkling treasure….I pointed out the coat had a hood – and the hood had bears ears..was he happy with that? He seriously considered the matter and then said he felt the ears were a bit childish…
Was I relieved? No – because he did look inherently cool – I would’ve bought the coat for him; his little sips of rebellion are like a glowing light. My only real worry is that I have to celebrate this flamboyance now. I’m realistic: Peer pressure and life will do it’s best to temper and conform his eccentricities. My wide-eyed five year old may proudly wear a fluffy girl’s cardigan or a fur coat that my worldly-wise ten year old son might not..
So for now, I’ll revel in the confidence he has to be himself – I’ll treasure his energy: smart and unique with a chameleon mind and no pigeon-holed attitude that I just wish I could bottle forever.
The truth is I can only hope with all my heart he continues to have fun: I can’t care if he sings like a bird of paradise or becomes defiantly average because ultimately it’ll all be his choice…but I’ll always have the memories of the day in Edinburgh when he tried on a girls pink faux fur coat with grey leopard print..and we both clapped with glee…
It makes you think: Just imagine what the world would be like if we weren’t all so afraid…
Laters, Kate x