Recently on a shopping trip to one of the popular malls in the UAE, we came across a toy store which had put up a battery operated bubble machine close to its façade. There were beautiful bubbles blowing in all directions and a group of kids eagerly chasing them while their bemused parents looked on.
Before I knew it, Sachi had left my grip and joined the assemblage. Happiness writ large on her beautiful innocent face, I observed her while she jumped around, bursting, blowing, laughing with the bubbles. It was pure unadulterated joy. (Isn’t it endearing how kids find smiles in the tiniest of things. Surely, everything I know about the state of ‘being happy’, I learnt from a child. My child.)
While I looked on at the scene before me, I was overcome with a strong impulse to just buy the bubble machine off. “I can surely afford it, thought I. I can put it up in the house for Sachi and play it on whenever I want to see this delight on her face. Or I could play it when she is ticked off with me. When my forced discipline has had the better of me. It will make her SO happy. It’s like finding joy with just a button. A mood enhancer!”I was excited.
“Maybe I could even set it up when I have one of my brunches. Everyone loves soap bubbles. We are all connected to them remotely through our childhoods… Imagine, being surrounded by people you love, sipping chilled Sangrias and munching Parma ham and melon with beautiful bubbles blowing into your hair and face… It would be magical!” I was getting carried away now.
So I entered the store and asked the girl to pack me one. While she got busy, I brooded…., When we were kids, we valued the little somethings our parents got us on occasions. A pencil with an eraser attached to it, a pastry, a bag of jujubes, glass marbles, cheap kitschy plastic toys…. The rest of our kiddie dreamplans we achieved through imaginations and sharing toys with other kids. Though it would be wrong to compare generations, I just couldn’t help but wonder how children nowadays are just not how we used to be. But then, I am sure my parents and their parents said the same things too. I wondered if my daughter would value this new toy after the first wave of ecstasy had passed. I analysed my own role in this situation. Would I value it ? Would I even care enough for that ‘Delight’ I was hankering after, if I got it so easy? I thought of all the forgotten things in our store room. The surf board, the bicycle, the easel…..
What was wrong with me? I was just giving in to a weak moment , giving in to impulsive materialism. It was fine for me to want to provide everything for my child, but while I did that, was I spending equal amount time instilling the art of understanding value?!
I stood there with my head reeling.”I buy it”… “I buy it not”…”Its just one small thing”… “Its big enough to give out wrong ideas”… “I want to buy her all I can”…”I am just spoiling her”… ” I am a great parent. I am firm with her but just not today”…”I am a terrible parent. A jellywog. I cant even convince myself to put my foot down”… “Ok, this one time I’ll get it…” Sachi stood close to me looking eagerly at my face. She could gather she was about to have a new play thing. I looked into her eyes, melted for one more lousy moment, then gripped her by her arm and marched the stunned lil’ girl away.
On the drive home, I felt terrible while sachi bawled .Yet, happy about being a conscious mother. I had won. Despite of myself.:)
Yes, kids deserve to have all they need but lets be sure they don’t define themselves with what they have and what we provide.
I’ll wait for our next visit to the toy store to find that ‘delight’ again:)