I needed to go to Wal-Mart for some bulk shopping. Our home was bare, which happens every time I am deep in the throes of writing another novel. I needed to replenish just about everything. Toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, detergent, cleaning supplies, not to mention bulk food items. As usual I was on a tight schedule so I told my 9 year old and 11 year old, who I was dragging with me to the store, that we were not stopping to look at clothing, toys, video games, books or anything else remotely exciting. We were on a mission. Get in, get what was on Mommy’s list and get out…quickly. The key word: Quickly! As we walked toward the front doors I reiterated, “we are only buying what is on my list and nothing else.” The underlying message in that sentence was: DON’T ASK ME TO BUY YOU ANYTHING!
We entered the store and my 11 year old daughter made an immediate beeline for a blouse, meanwhile my son jetted off toward the chocolate chip Poptarts and the begging began. “Pleeeeaaase?” Their eyelashes bat and the pouty lip came out. “I neeeeeed it!” They said in unison. I re-stated my original stance that we were in a hurry and NOT looking at things that weren’t on my list. The begging continued. “Well, if I can’t have pop tarts, can I have an action figure?” Negotiated my 9 year old son.
By the time we made it out of the store, I was flushed with frustration and anger; convinced that I had raised the most spoiled children on the planet. Driving home I resolved to fix my poor childrearing skills by giving them the spiel every mother gives on how there are other children in the world without toys and video games and who have never tasted a pop tart; and how they should be thankful for all they have.
As we pulled into the garage I turned to my children and announced they were grounded for the next thirty minutes, during which time they would each go to their rooms and write me a one page essay on the difference between needs and wants; and they would write about how richly they have been blessed.
I lectured them on how, as their mom, it was my job to provide for their needs, namely to give them food, water, clothing, shelter and to let them know they are loved and cherished, to support their dreams and help them achieve their goals. It was NOT my job to buy them everything they wanted every time they wanted it.
Thirty minutes of writing didn't un-spoil my children, but it did give me a half an hour of peace and quiet; not to mention two adorable little letters I have tucked away to use one day as instruments of blackmail, or at the very least, for a good laugh. :)