I’m going to buy all five of my kids brand new cars the day they turn 16.
OK, so I won’t actually end up buying them new cars, but I really do have the innate desire to get them the best of everything at every juncture. I would very much enjoy running out right now and buying my 6-year-old daughter every DS game they have in the display case at Target. She loves her DS games and always has one on her mind that she wants next. I want to buy them for her, each and every one.
But, I can’t.
Putting aside the financial aspects of giving my kids everything they want or need or could dream of, I have to restrain myself from spoiling them. Spoiling them would feel so fantastic but I realize that it wouldn’t be good for them or their future. This is a constant challenge that I struggle against every single day.
I like to imagine the ideal world where I had the resources to give them everything they could possibly ask for. We’d have bedrooms with jump-house floors and marshmallow beds. The ponies and horses would prance through the backyard with the unicorns around the go-kart track that circled the fruit punch wave pool. We’d have gummy bears for dinner with milkshakes to drink. They would play their Playstations and DS with a library of games from the floor to the ceiling shelves full of every game made. They’d stay up till 3 a.m. watching cartoons and eating cotton candy we just made in the ball pit room.
But not only is that unrealistic, it wouldn’t be good for them. They’d have cavities, weak bones, and gout. They’d sleep through school, never read books, and be exceptionally rotund form sitting in their Skittles-filled beanbags instead of outside playing tag. They’d still fight with each other over who was playing which game at what time.
To me, the most important thing that I’m not willing to sacrifice by giving them everything is the exceptionally valuable understanding of appreciation. If I deliver to them their complete wish list of toys, they will never understand what it is to be thankful, to be excited to have something they have wanted, to be grateful that someone spend the time and money to give them something nice.
From high school I’ve known those kids who wouldn’t have said much more than a mumbled “thanks” if their parents handed them the keys to a brand new convertible. The kids whose whims were indulged and had the best of every single thing they had wished for. They didn’t turn out to be very hard working adults, disillusioned about how easily nice things come into their lives. Adults who feel that the world has turned and is not out to get them. Wage workers floating from job to job, not willing to put in a full day of hard work and being let go mere weeks into their hourly employment. They barely grew up at all, resenting how real life is and never quite understanding why things weren’t turning out their way.
So, my kids won’t have brand new cars the day they turn 16. They will probably have clunkers that they worked and saved their money to contribute towards. They will call us from the side of the road when they overheat.
They won’t thank us for this. But they will be better people because of it.