Little Materialists

The other evening, I had a call from a headhunter. As I hung up, my six-year-old son walked in. So I asked him jokingly whether I should take another job. He asked,

“Does it mean you will get to come home earlier?”

I was mighty pleased that he liked to have me around at home, but I said,

“No, little fellow, I may have to work much longer hours. I will make a lot more money though. Do you think I should take it?”

I was certain that he would say, no, forget money, spend time at home. After all, he is quite close to me, and tries to hang out with me as much as he can. But, faced with this choice, he was quiet for a while. So I pressed him,

“Well, what do you think?”

To my dismay, he asked,

“How late?”

I decided to play along and said,

“I would probably get home only after you go to bed.”

He still seemed to hesitate. I persisted,

“Well, what do you think?”

My six-year-old said,

“If you have more money, you can buy me more stuff!”

Crestfallen as I was at this patently materialistic line of thinking (not to say anything about the blow to my parental ego), I had to get philosophical at this point. Why would a modern child value “stuff” more than his time with his parent?

I thought back about my younger days to imagine how I would have responded. I would have probably felt the same way. But then, this comparison is not quite fair. We were a lot poorer then, and my dad bringing in more money (and “stuff”) would have been nice. But lack of money has never been a reason for my not getting my kids the much sought after stuff of theirs. I could get them anything they could possibly want and then some. It is just that I have been trying to get them off “stuff” with environmental arguments. You know, with the help of Wall-E, and my threats that they will end up living in a world full of garbage. Clearly, it did not work.

May be we are not doing it right. We cannot expect our kids to do as we say, and not as we do. What is the use of telling them to value “stuff” less when we cannot stop dreaming of bigger houses and fancier cars? Perhaps the message of Wall-E loses a bit of its authenticity when played on the seventh DVD player and watched on the second big screen TV.

It is our materialism that is reflected in our kids’ priorities.


One thought on “Little Materialists”

Comments are closed.