Rich or poor, living or dead, there’s one thing that all children have in common: they always want stuff they can’t have. I want this. I want that. Buy me this. Buy me that. It’s enough to make me lose my mind. Oh wait, there it is.
My son just needs to see a shiny button and he’s hooked. Doesn’t even matter what it is. Last week we were chasing some joggers through the forest preserve, and he came shambling back to me, grunting.
“Rughughughphtheppphhhh,” he said. (Translation: “I need an MP3 player!”)
“Lhyahhckhackach,” I replied. (“Like you need another hole in the head.”)
“Buhghloghthighghg!” (“The breather-guy who sounded like a police whistle had one, and it looks really cool!”)
“Dhuhyoughtheoksdzzz?” (“Do you even know what it does?”)
Blank stare. Nope, he had no idea. He just wanted one because someone else had one. It turns out that even home-schooled zombie children are not immune to that horrendous infectious disease known as the I-Wants. What happened to the days when he was happy to spend an hour playing with his fingers? Sometimes I’d have to give him a few extra fingers if he got bored, but expensive gadgets never even entered the picture.
My daughter, on the other hand, has her sights set on a cell phone upgrade. She owns a computer with an Internet connection, a digital camera, and a cell phone that is perfectly good at what phones are for—making phone calls—and so far has not been able to explain why I need to fork over more money so she can get all three things in one pocket-sized contraption. But if the neighbors are calling 911 on a fancy smart phone with a touch screen, then she has to have one too.
But I get it. The kids already feel different, being both home-schooled and part of a persecuted minority—the undead. They want to fit in with the rest of the world somehow, even on a superficial level.
As part of our compromise, the kids have agreed to do extra chores to earn money toward their dream-gadgets. This is the best possible solution, because it gives them time to really think about the value of their purchases. Already the daughter is wondering if her money would be better spent on a new game system or a Kevlar outfit. And the son asked me the other day: which costs more, an MP3 player or a slingshot? I think he’s already making plans for our next trip to the forest preserve.