A Story about Simon
Simon is growing up so fast that sometimes I forget how much he still has to learn. Being the youngest means he is constantly trying to keep up with the older three. In fact, even though he is almost eight, he has just discovered all the Disney movies. He fell in love with Mary Poppins (and Bert) only a month ago and is watching it on repeat like a toddler. He is making up for the fact that while he was a toddler he was watching Lord of the Rings and Star Wars because he was into whatever his big brothers were into.
More and more he is making room for being his own person, but he still joins in the big kids’ obsessions in full force. The latest of these is Doctor Who. Ben brought Doctor Who into our house but everyone else has embraced him. Creepy pictures of monsters and aliens from the show line the wall above Simon’s bed.
And while no one does obsessive phases quite like Cole did as a child (lawn mowers, jedi knights, football), Simon can get pretty worked up over some officially licensed merchandise.
About three times a week, Simon accompanies me to our local grocery store, since I cannot be bothered to buy more than one or two bags of groceries at a time. I usually agree to a walk through the magazines/books/toys section of the market with the caveat that we are not buying anything today. Just. Looking.
Inevitably, Simon finds something on these excursions that he has to have. Last week it was a Doctor Who book.
“Please Mama, can I have this? “
“Nope, remember, we are just looking.”
“I have enough money at home. Please, please let me get it.”
“Why don’t you just look at it for a minute? Then we need to move on to getting our groceries.”
“I waaaaaaaannnt it!”
“You are wasting your time that you could be spending looking at it.”
He put the book back on the shelf and crossed his arms. Mad face.
“Simon, I told you we were not buying any books or toys today. If you still want that book in a week, you can bring your money back and buy it. Remember though, you told me you were saving your money for a new Chima Lego book.”
“I don’t want that book. I want THIS book.”
We moved on through the store, collecting as many items as we could carry plus one or two more, because apparently I love shoulder pain. Then we walked home, Simon sulking the whole way.
Soon after we got home, the big kids came in and I thought he would forget about the incident at the grocery store. He did not. He stayed mad for most of the afternoon.
I began to think that maybe he really wanted that book.
I’m quick like that.
But actually, I have a thing about buying something, anything the first time we see it. I so desperately want my kids to learn the art of delayed gratification. Simon knows that I am not going to buy something the first time we see it, but that does not keep him from trying. I just feel like he needs to want it for longer than ten minutes to know that he really wants it. To be sure.
The fight against being (and raising) an impulse buyer is hard wrought. And I’m not sure that the lesson I’ve been preaching for years has stuck with any of my kids. Only time will tell. But like I said, I have to remind myself that Simon is still really young. He may talk a big talk but he is still smack dab in the middle of those character-shaping years.
A week later, the grocery store book was long forgotten as I helped Simon place an order for the book he really wanted, the one he had been saving for in ten pence increments. Before we hit the “buy it now” button, I asked Simon, “What about that book at the grocery store? Are you sure you don’t want that one instead?”
“Nope, Mama. This is the one I really want.”
He did not say, “Mom, thank you so much for not letting me waste my money on an impulse purchase.”
But I’m sure that’s what he was thinking.