Tonight I had an important conversation with my oldest daughter. She’d been nagging me all weekend about going to The Red Apple, one of the little department stores in our hometown (formerly known as The Bargain Shop). She’s apparently DYING to get an LOL pet. This is the girl who has $10 (maybe less) to her name. I told her flat out tonight that I didn’t take her shopping because I hate shopping. I HATE that it makes me think I want things that I actually really don’t want or need. And I HATE the waste associated with it. And I HATE how the things that we buy pile up in our home, and I HATE how NO ONE PLAYS WITH THE CRAP THEY BUY!
When challenging her to reflect on her recent purchases (it’s only being a couple of weeks since her last shopping trip), I asked her how long she actually played with the little squishy toy that she insisted she needed. A day? Maybe two?
“But, Mom, the keychain part broke off.”
I responded with a quick, “Well, maybe that’s another important lesson about these cheap little toys you insist on buying. They’re garbage.”
She was listening, and as I pushed her further, I think she may have even agreed with me that the exhilaration and excitement that we feel when we purchase something (or even for a day or so afterwards), quickly wanes. We no longer feel that “high” that we did at the time of purchase. In fact, we may even be filled with feelings of regret or remorse for having wasted our money on such a silly item.
Beyond the LOL pet, my daughter also thought she might like to shop for some new baby clothes for her reborn doll.
Again, I challenged her … “When was the last time you played with your doll?”
“I’m bored of all the things I have for her,” she protested, “the clothes, the toys, the blankets. I want something new.”
“How many times have we bought (and later donated or sold) your doll new clothes since you got her at Christmas time?”
Again, I encouraged her to think about how something is super exciting when we first get it, but our excitement quickly mellows, then eventually disappears altogether. I was desperately trying to get my daughter to realize that STUFF doesn’t make us happy (something I wish I had learned at her age)! Our happiness has to come from somewhere else, and our “highs” have to come from something else OTHER THAN shopping.
“Like what?” she asked.
“How about experiences? How about doing things we enjoy? How about spending time with people, building relationships? How about creating something? These are the things that last. These are the things with the most meaning. There is NOTHING that ANY OF US can purchase at The Red Apple (or any other store for that matter) that is going to give us the continuous and repeated joy you [WE] are craving.” (These words are not just for my daughter, folks. They are for YOU too!)
And just like that our chat was over (but not before she reminded me that you have to spend money on SOME things, like the house we’re living in). Of course, my dear, money does still need to be spent sometimes. Having a comfortable place to call home is definitely money well spent. A LOL pet? Or new doll clothes? Questionable.
Today is only the beginning of me imparting my wisdom regarding consumption upon my daughter (it’s taken me years to get here). More on this topic later 🙂
While you’re kicking around my website, I encourage you to check out a post somewhat related to this that I wrote back in March 2014, entitled “Enriched.” Here’s the link: https://ourlifewelllivedleannehintz.com/2014/03/30/enriched/