Three weeks into the school summer holidays, and at this point, the biggest challenge by far is becoming all too evident: The Boy’s materialism. His greed – for toys, comics, sweets, ice cream, basically, anything that costs money – is relentless, and it’s driving me to the brink of sanity.
Take our day at the Olympics, for example. We bought both The Boy and The Baby a Happy Meal for lunch, and DH also bought The Boy a golden Wenlock mascot. Was that enough? No. Sitting eating our lunch, we practically had to strap The Boy to his chair, such was his desperation to get his hands on his sister’s freebie piece of plastic tat as well as his own.
That was just the tip of the iceberg. A couple of days ago, we went shoe shopping. The Boy needed new trainers, and The Baby needed sandals. The first shop yielded the latter, but not the former – which promptly elicited a minor strop because it ‘wasn’t fair’ that The Baby had new shoes and The Boy didn’t. Shoes, for goodness sake. Then, in the second shop, we found trainers in The Boy’s size, in two different styles and reduced to £6. Given the bargain price, I decided to buy two pairs – one for home, one for school. Cue sheer delight that The Boy now had *twice* as many new shoes as The Baby.
It’s been heading this way for a while, to be honest. We had to bin the Argos catalogue long ago, after The Boy – currently six and a half – had planned out his wish list not just for his seventh birthday, but for every birthday up to the age of 18. And we decided to introduce pocket money – only £1 a week – in an attempt to teach him the value of money.
It hasn’t worked. Every time we leave the house, The Boy expects me to buy something. It’s not always a toy; it’s just as likely to be a packet of Moshi Monsters cards, or a packet of sweets. And it’s almost as if he doesn’t care what it is, as long as I’ve spent cold, hard cash on it. Case in point: last week at the farm, he whinged for a good half-hour because I wouldn’t buy him a fizzy drink, regardless of the fact that I’d brought a carton of Ribena from home. Are all six-year-olds like this, or is it just mine?
In an attempt to stamp on his greed, The Boy and I agreed last week that there would be no more ‘just because’ presents until his birthday, in November. I told him I’d buy things that he needed (clothes, school stuff, food), but that everything else would either have to come from his pocket money or go on his birthday list. In principle, at least, he concurred that this was fair. Money doesn’t grow on trees, after all, and with work on the quiet side at the moment, the odd few pounds here and there all adds up.
But then, this weekend, we saw both sets of grandparents. Needless to say The Boy didn’t go home empty-handed: there was a mask-making set from one side, and a Tintin book, Olympics posters and stickers from the others. ‘I wasn’t meant to be having anything new until my birthday,” he told me, with palpable glee, “but I’ve got *six* new things already!’
So, we’re off to a good start, then. But while I’m happy for other people to give my son an occasional treat, I’m determined to stick to my guns in an attempt to stop him becoming (more of a) spoilt brat. No new stuff from me until November.
I don’t hold out much hope, though. The other day, he sat down to make a packing list for our upcoming holiday. The first item on the list? ‘Money to buy sooveneers (sic).’