Sunday, October 20, 2013

Shopping Gene Frustrates Mom

Is Shopping Genetic?

You now what's so darn frustrating about kids? Well, beside the fact that they lick their snot, pee where they sleep and have the ability to make mealtime feel like a food fight in a junior high cafeteria? Their tenacity. 

And it's at every stage too; infants cry incessantly, toddlers scream throughout the grocery store, adolescents disobey and teenagers refuse to honor curfew.

It's as if at every developmental phase children are innately incapable of being agreeable. When they want something, they want it now. Not later. Not when you get off the phone. Not in five minutes. Not when you get paid. Now.

And that's just the typical kid. If you have a strong-willed child you experience everything I’ve just mentioned in greater intensity. It’s enough to make you want to give in just to get some peace and quiet.
I know because I have a kid who, at a surprisingly young age, is hyper aware of the good feeling one gets when an outfit is put well together. Because of this cognizance she incessantly dialogues with me about new bags, shoes, headbands, outfits and skinny jeans. 

In order to acquire all the new things she wants my daughter regularly, and without fail, asks me everyday to take her shopping. This, my friends, must be a genetic disposition because I, nor her father, enjoys shopping. 

In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I've taken my kids to the store. Throughout my entire parenting career, if my kids have needed something I picked it up for them. And they liked it. They had to because the alternative would be to take all five of them to the store at the same time. Which, let’s be honest, is just insane.

Plus, we don't live near stores, malls or retail outlets. Shopping for us is more like a field trip than a quick errand. My latest remedy for this problem? The blessed Internet and its next day, free delivery.

Contrary to my aversion-to-shopping attitude my daughter wants stuff. Constantly. In fact, some days, she goes through her sister's belongings scavenging for anything she's outgrown. 
I'm not even kidding. 

Thank goodness my little fashionista is not opposed to hand me downs. In fact, we have a very generous neighbor who regularly shares her daughters' clothes. I store them until I can't fend my shopaholic daughter off any longer. I make a big deal about bringing out the boxes, calling it attic shopping. It is ridiculous how happy it makes her. 
But alas, with the preteen years sneaking up on us I am beginning to sense that the attic is beginning to loose its appeal. I think it is the new kid’s fault. Recently my daughter reported a new student at her school has "cool clothes". 

First, I'm trying to teach her that she doesn't get whatever she wants when she wants it, that sometimes waiting is good for your soul and that mommy's budget doesn't allow for spending sprees. Now I have to teach her that what she wears doesn't define her awesomeness while she feverishly pleads with me, batting those adorable, yet tenacious, big brown eyes?

This parenting stuff is hard.

The problem is that I want to make my kid happy. I love that feeling I get when I give her what she wants. She hugs me, squeals with delight and declares her love for me. I like that. A lot. And while that would make me happy, parenting isn’t really about me is it? It’s about raising up my kids to be strong, thoughtful, mature individuals who will be good leaders and community members.

Is there anything wrong with shopping? No, of course not. But I have a strong sense that my daughter doesn’t need more things as much as she needs to learn to appreciate what she does have. If only I can stay strong enough to teach her patience, gratitude and, because she’s going to need it, budgeting skills. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!

(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Review Atlas. Ironically, the day this article published I took my girls to the local thrift shop to look for Halloween costumes. We left we new sweaters, pj pants, a jacket and the costume pieces we were looking for. All for $9.60!! My daughter was estatic. In fact, right this moment she is wearing a 'new' sweater.)

Q. Am I the only one with a kid who loves to shop? How do you deal with the begging?

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