Yesterday my daughter turned three. We had a party where my nearest and dearest, her dad’s nearest and dearest, and her own nearest and dearest all joined together to watch her spin around with four balloons in her arms. It was lovely, really lovely. And EVERYONE was incredibly generous. Art supplies, books, dolls, clothes, cuddly toys, a scooter, games, a big girl bed and fancy bedding for said bed. A veritable haul! She’s three so she had a lovely time opening each thing in a frenzy, winging it to one side (apart from the bed – I didn’t give birth to the Hulk!) and tearing into the next present pulse racing eyes wide. She said thank you, and she has spent her day today playing with her new things. She obviously enjoys and appreciates every gift she was given even if she doesn’t fully understand what was going on. This appreciation of what we have at home, (which is a shit-tonne of stuff – I mean, really. We have a LOT of THINGS. They are everywhere), does not stop her pointing at the next gaudy object in the shop window. And I know that this is mainly because she is three. But I think a lot of it has to do with me.
This little girl who I love not just with every fibre of my being, but every fibre of every being on this earth, might be my only child. I’m not going for the sympathy vote here but I know that with every pregnancy loss I have endured one thing that has helped me feel better is making my daughter happy. When you’re too blue to have a fun-packed day on the beach then maybe a new toy will do. As a society we attach emotions to buying things. I am annoyed at myself for not being stronger, for not tying up my emotions so closely with the act of retail but this is the state of play now.
The rise of the Poundshop Empire has made it easier to spoil kids. If a treat or two a week is only going to cost the same as a small coffee then why wouldn’t you cave in? Is it really so bad? Does it perpetuate the loop? If I buy her things now will she fall into the same trap?
She does hear the word no. I don’t buy her everything she points at. But I buy her a lot. I know as she gets older and her grasp on the world becomes more firm, more mature, then I will teach her that we don’t need everything we see. Everything we want all the time. I will introduce the concept of pocket money – maybe in return for chores – and she will learn what it is to save up for something she likes (I still own the cuddly Lassie dog that cost £19.50 that I saved up for 40 weeks to buy nearly 20 years ago) and I will pass on my super power for gift buying. I want her to learn that carefully choosing or making something for someone you care about is about as satisfying as it gets.
For now though I think I’m in a bit of a spoiling bubble and I’m just going to have to hope that I’m not creating a monster brat. I don’t think I am, but that’s next year’s me’s problem if I am!