Mummy, I want…

Mummy I want

Claire J wonders if there’s any limit to what children want.

So my niece turns 10 this week. God knows what she is going to get for her birthday because she already seems to have absolutely everything she could possibly want. An iPhone, an iPod of some sort, a television and DVD player, a Wii, a Nintendo 3DS and various other gadgets and gizmos I haven’t even heard of.

She’s a lovely girl, and I’m not claiming that she’s spoilt in any way…she’s no different, it seems, from every other 10 year old. She tells me that some of her classmates get picked on because they don’t have a “cool” mobile. 10 year old girls in 2012 wear makeup to parties, straighten their hair, lust after expensive labels like Hollister and Jack Wills, and are often more tech savvy than their parents. How did this happen? When I was 10 (1988, if you must know) my friends and I still played with Barbie, went to bed at 8pm and genuinely believed in Santa Claus (no, it wasn’t just me!).

You can’t blame the kids. They’re encouraged to use computers in school (which I accept is a positive thing), and you’d be hard pushed to find an 8 year old who can’t bring up the Google search box and type the words “is Santa real?” They only have to wait 0.16 seconds for the answer (about 343,000,000 answers, actually). The big, bad, expensive world is right at their fingertips.

So who is to blame? The parents? Maybe. I’m in no position to point the finger. My children haven’t even started school yet, so I have no idea what it’s like to be a mother of a tween who is pleading for all the latest must-haves and crying because she can’t celebrate her birthday in a pink stretch limo. But I’m already thinking about it, because one day I will be that mother. What will the world be like when my 17 month old daughter turns 10? Will kids expect a birthday party on the moon in 2020? Their own personal assistant? Simply because everybody else has one? If everyone else has one, how can a parent look their child in the eyes and say “I’m sorry, but you’re not getting it”, when this leaves them open to ridicule and possibly even bullying? Peer pressure and bullying are not modern behaviours by any means, but I think the materialistic undercurrent is.

What has caused this massive change in society, where 10 year old kids get £200 phones for their birthdays and their parties cost the same as a week-long package holiday? Has the world become more greedy and materialistic in general?

I don’t want my children to miss out, and I accept that the the birthday present bar has been raised ten-fold since I was a child. It’s not just about the money – it’s the fact that so many of them seem to expect so much. I recently blogged about the books I loved to read as a child – perhaps this has got me reminiscing about those times and making comparisons between then and now. Things seemed so much simpler back then.

When I started thinking about all those Enid Blyton treasures, I couldn’t stop. So I’ve been searching the internet for the exact editions that I adored as a child (I salute you, eBay!). I’m like a child on Christmas morning every time a small, slim package drops through my letterbox. Except I’m ripping open a parcel containing a dog-eared, 1985 edition of a 60-year old children’s book, not a shiny, expensive gadget.

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  • Icklebabe

    Such a thought provoking post, it’s so hard to strike the right balance. With a teen and a twelve yr old as well as a toddler I can really relate. Christmas is always a mine field of guilt if you dont … or guilt plus dept if you do splash out.
    My eldest got a SLR camera for her birthday, it cost over £500 , but she did except she would get nothing for Christmas . She loves it, and wants to pursue photography in the future.
    I think it’s hard because there is so much more gadgetry available now, and of course the kids want it, they are the only ones who really know how to use it all too, but i do so wish it was different, but we cant go back, can we? x

  • http://www.amummytoo.co.uk Emily

    We got Joel two presents this Christmas plus one “from Santa” – no expensive gadgets, he just wanted Lego! But his extended family all went crazy with presents and he ended up with literally dozens and dozens. It was really, really lovely of them, of course, but you could see he was losing any sense of value. It was just a case of rip of the wrapping and on to the next one. We’re going to set some rules next year – one present per person with a £10 limit – he’ll still get loads even on that basis!

  • Anonymous

    No I really agree with you it is scary and kids are generally so spoilt as it’s the norm. I have tries not to spoil my children but you are right you don’t want your kids to be picked on because they don’t have the best things. Maybe the economic downturn will have an effect, we certainly don’t have the money to buy all of ours all the must have gadgets. A really great post!

  • Lauren-lloyd

    Brilliant blog – I was also 10 in 1988 ; )  and am definitely trying to recreate the simpler kind of childhood I recall, for my own children.  I am adamant at the moment that my daughter won’t have all the gadgets her friends have because she will be otherwise occupied with extra curricular activities etc.  However – I know that my determined ideals will no doubt be chipped away so that by the time she is 10, I will do anything to avoid her being picked on and bullied like you said. It’s me, and other parents like me, who are subjected to peer pressure and very often give in.