Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Would your child choose friendship over possessions?

This time last year I gave my son a dilemma.

His sixth birthday was coming up, and I gave him the choice of choosing between a party for his school friends, or an extended budget for his birthday presents.

He chose more presents.

This decision left me both pleased and, every parent’s favourite-sombre-tool-of-child-chastisement, disappointed.

There was delight that I didn’t have to arrange a party, and sadness at the prospect of raising a beast more interested in prize than relationships.

Still, I’d chosen to give him, err, the choice, and he’d made his bed. Well, he hadn’t, he never does, blimey not only am I raising a materialist I’m raising an unkempt one.

I duly stuck to my word - and end of the bargain - and his present budget was increased. Effectively it meant he got a Nintendo Wii rather than a two-hour get-together with his school chums.

Which hasn’t all been bad, as the Nintendo is something he doesn’t enjoy playing with on his own, Wii gaming is always a very social experience in our home.

And I wasn’t a total scrooge we did have a family and friends bash/get-together/party-type-thing. He got a cake and everything.

This year I offered him the same choice.

And this time he has chosen to party-on with his classmates. Shame none of them are called Wayne or Garth.

I don’t know if this means he has learnt a greater value of friendship, or if there isn’t anything else he fancies from the Argos catalogue.

Fingers crossed for the former.

Guess one thing this does inadvertently teach – told you I was good at that type of teaching - is that things have a value, a price, a cost, and that there is pretty much always a choice, or a sacrifice – however frivolous – to make each time we NEED or WANT something.

Not sure I’m right to be introducing my seven year-old to financial realities rather than protecting him with a world of wonder and without restriction.

However instead of getting all confused over that, and grumpy about having to remember all his school friends’ names, send invites out, chase replies, book the party venue, advise all the food choices and special requirements, arrange a cake, party bags et al. I chose to focus on creating a spreadsheet to organise it all.

It’s a beautiful little thing.

Is that a silver lining?

Or would that lining be better made from the fabric of friendship?