Sraikh from Asaaan put out a really thought provoking post before I went on vacation asking whether people were comfortable saying that they could not afford things.
When my comment turned into a mini-post, I brought it over here, where I normally hatch all my eggs.
Yes, I am more than comfortable saying that I cannot afford something, when I can’t. We both have decent salaries in a country that boasts of an exhorbitant standard of living. A beer will set you back almost 10 dollars. A pedicure? 100 dollars a pop. Go figure. This is why I am constantly dishevelled and grumpy. Yet, if we are sensible and fair, then we have a good standard of living and quality of life.
Yet, just because I can afford something, that doesn’t mean my children will get it and one of my pet peeves is children walking around hand in hand with a sense of entitlement. So not only am I comfortable saying,
We can’t afford this
I’m equally comfortable with:
Yes, we can afford it, but you may not have it. I don’t think its good for you to get everything you point at and unless you can come up with the wonderful way in which this is going to contribute to you as a person, you can forget it.
Yes we can afford it, but you can’t have it unless you figure out how to save up for it.
It is a matter of principle more than anything else. There are birthdays, Christmases, Indian festivals and holidays. They get plenty. Hell, they get Plenty Plus Plus. Our issue is that we think that there is too much stuff. It becomes all about the stuff. Friends are cool or not based on the Wii game they do or don’t have. What? No Singstar at home? L.O.S.E.R. And the bad news? Its endless. You are never going to keep up with the Joneses.
Oh no you didn’t! You didn’t just point to my designer label shoes.
Alright, I am guilty of having splurged on ridiculously expensive pumps – on occasion. And really – I have no sense of guilt whatsoever about that. I work hard for our money (as does any housewife, I need to add), provide for our family and if I want to indulge myself, its my business. As long as my children are not being denied what is necessary to keep body and soul together, I can do this without so much as a twinge. Its quite simple, dear sons – I am earning my Gucci shoes, you are not earning your Pokemon/Bakugan cards. I had to wait till I was gainfully employed to be silly and vain. I expect no less from you.
So, without further ado.
My lovely, lovely sons,
Having new toys or clothes or things (Arvind needs things. He never has enough things according to him) is not a right you have as a child. I work hard for my money and I will make equally hard to make you realise that these things you want are privileges. Why, even this roof over your head or the food on the table is a privilege. Don’t assume that you can diss it. If you do not contribute to this home, by way of chores or duties, you do not get a say in its fiscal policy.
Our love for you and our guidance is a right you have. You also have the right to question our choices, but please come prepared. It is our duty to prepare you for an independent, productive life. If you are getting pretty much all you want on a platter and never earning anything, then we will have done you the greatest disservice.
So feel free to come with a plan as to how you want to save up for your next Super Mario game.
Once you start school, you will have chores. Simple stuff like bringing in the post, taking out garbage and keeping your room in respectable shape. If you are going to bargain for greater power, get comfortable with greater responsibility.
Once you are 15 or thereabouts, hungering for the latest Converse or Nike, snazzy snowboarding equipment or a respectable social life with fun-filled, friend-filled outings, we enter the next charmed stage of life, aka. Its Time To Find Part-time Work.
That’ll be a couple of hours a week, balanced with schoolwork. Exceptions can be made in rare instances like needing to study every minute of the day to get into a tremendously competitive programme, being a member of a enormously promising rock band that needs to practice round the clock, volunteering for the Red Cross and the like. We are open for discussion, but will require serious substantiation as to why we should foot the bill for your fun when Minimum Wage Joy ($10 – 12 in Norway) is all yours for the taking.
We realise this is a bummer. On the bright side, it’ll teach your priorities in your wishlisting come Christmas, birthday and assorted Indian festivals.
Much much love,
Your Unapologetically Biyaatch Parents.
Edited to add: Ultimately, all parents have different sets of priorities. We love travel and I can see us spending a lot of money to travel as a family. I want my children to experience the Indian subcontinent in all its richness. I want to see the Serengeti plains with them, be amazed by Florence, climb the harbour bridge in Sydney. I want to see their faces marvelling at Tsarskoe Selo outside St. Petersburg.
I want them to at least be familiar with their parents’ passion for travel and history.
Whats important to you, dear readers?