ADMISSION: I’m a spoil-aholic, and currently fighting the urge to go on eBay to complete my 7-year-old son’s Minecraft Miniseries collection. It’s bad – and chronic. Ever since he was born, he’s had a designated playroom. In fact, he essentially gets two bedrooms (in both homes), and therefore consumes the most space. This is so ridiculous to me and I don’t even know how it happened. We’re moving into a smaller place in a few weeks so the playroom concept finally has to go. Along with that, a lot of the habits I’ve unintentionally formed are departing.
We all want our children to have more than what we did, but why? I don’t feel cheated out of a childhood, even though we weren’t wealthy and I had to wait for a holiday to get the latest Nintendo game. That wait actually made the game so much more worth it – the anticipation killed me, and I would end up playing it to death. Nowadays, my kid has every video game known to man, and they all get lost in the shuffle – nothing is special to him. So do I really want him to have more than I did? I’m starting to think that’s a bad idea.
As mentioned before, we are moving from a house into a smaller townhome in a month. As a result, I am analyzing every single thing that is going and realizing, in horror, that my son is a hoarder. Perhaps it’s actually me who hoards, and I’ve passed that down to him, which is awful to admit. This past week, we delved deep into his playroom and did a massive weeding out. He was not thrilled to part with most things, and I had to convince him that he doesn’t need seven of the same toy. I explained that there are children who have no or very few toys and he needs to donate some of his immense collection to them. Once he got started, he was unstoppable. I witnessed a complete turnaround and he whittled down his possessions to a manageable amount.
Purging games and toys is like putting a Band-Aid on an awful wound – I have to address the larger issues at hand. First of all, I need to stop trying to constantly buy his affection. And no, I don’t mean I overcompensate, but I definitely just like to give him stuff. If I happen to know of a cool new video game or toy, I usually beat him to the punch and buy it for him before he knows it exists. I’m satisfying my inner child, but spoiling my actual child. From now on I am going to limit any gifts to holidays or very special occasions. Additionally, I will not go apesh*t on those holidays and buy mountains of toys. There is nothing worse than spending an eternity purchasing and wrapping presents and then watching him get bored five gifts in.
Curtailing my spoiling nature is ultimately going to be good for everyone. I will quell my desires to complete every franchise when he asks for one character. For example, I'll just buy him Woody if he wants it, not Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the “Toy Story” gang. This is a child who has been to Disney World five times by the age of 4, so I expect some resistance. In fact, we used to hire Disney tour guides that would allow us to skip lines so he never even had to wait. Several trips to Six Flags this year cured that impatience – he finally became tall enough to ride Superman so he stuck out an hour-long line in the hot summer sun. Gradually, I am helping him down from the pedestal that I once placed him on.
New phrases I’ll use often will include “No,” and “Tough,” and “Maybe for Christmas.” He doesn’t hear them enough and I want him to be better prepared for the real world. I know so many young millennials that are complete mooches because their parents forced silver spoons down their privileged throats. I don’t want my son to exhibit any of that behavior, so I know it starts with me. His generation is already used to consolation trophies and getting everything they want at the touch of a button. My job is to be proactive and teach him better ethics than that. After all, he will be taking care of me one day, so he needs to be on top of his game – because Daddy’s not going to a retirement home.