My kids rarely want anything.
Of course, this is what I think because of all the time I've spent languishing in department store aisles waiting for one (or both) of my children to make a decision. I swear I've seen my own hair turn grey in those shiny plastic stickers that pass for mirrors.
But the truth is they want a lot of things. And once they've collected all the goodwill and birthday money they can muster, they don't want to be blinded by all the fancy packaging. The tragedy of tragedies would be making the mistake of schlepping home a box of colorful dirt or a fuzzy orange worm with googly eyes.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time ..."
Yet, I know every minute they spend mulling the options adds only a second or two to the item's longevity ... not counting temporary abandonments and what will happen if the dog goes and retrieves it before the kids do.
This time was different, though.
He'd been asking for this Xbox thing for years. Every birthday. Every Christmas. Every Fourth of July. Didn't matter that we already have a video game console. Or that he never played with it. It didn't matter he wanted to play a game on this device that he was already playing on three other computers in our household. And it certainly didn't matter that his parents had always said “No.”
"We are not buying an Xbox."
It was always on his mind: He put a giant X on his list. He stalked it at the store. He waited for a special occasion, and then he pounced.
Turns out he'd also been saving his Christmas, birthday and tooth fairy money for just such an occasion – a sale.
With a fist full of crumpled dollars and a check for $100 made out to him, he bounced around the living room like a rubber ball. “I have enough money for the Xbox, the game and the tax!” he said with exuberance. “Can you take me to the store?”
Of course I wanted to say “No.”
Every fiber of my being told me I'd be well within my mission as a parent in the legislative branch of this family to veto any and all house spending that could be considered “pork." And the look from my husband indicated he wouldn't filibuster that decision.
But I wanted my son to have some independence. I wanted him to sacrifice something, however, intangible as money is to a newly-minted eight-year-old, it was his birthday loot to blow.
Sure … the acquisition would necessitate some new laws.
Taxes would have to be paid . …
Allowances might need to be garnished. ...
He'd have to hook into our electricity and internet. And no doubt, he'd be mindlessly consuming our junk fuel by the fistful as he sat in the living room building imaginary cities and fighting imaginary foes inside of our television.
He's not the only one who wants to use it, after all.
There are other foes that must be dealt with … like the teenage drones his sister wants to watch on Netflix … or the three English blokes, who talk about cars and race reasonably-priced sedans through continents, of whom his father is so fond.
But this is not a democracy.
Not even a representative one.
Sometimes it feels just a little corrupt.
But then I feel I would be foolish not to get something out of it.
So, in order to cash his check, get to the store and purchase his luxury item, he has some chores to do. He's got school work to shore up, pets to feed and an entire room to clean up.
And, since he's agreed to the small print, I've agreed to bring him shopping.
After all, we're just one family with a universal remote.