I have never really been, what one might call “good with money”.
Thankfully, that is one of the many avenues in which my wife excels and helps add to the continuing art of romantic balance that is George & Allison.
However, this lack of thrift has extended to my want to constantly shower my son with gifts that are entirely unnecessary. Of course, children are expensive little hobbies to pursue. They have certain requirements and beyond that there are those items that would (by my parent’s generation) be considered luxuries but also provide some sort of ease to you or him in his upbringing. And beyond that are the items that NO baby will ever need, ever want, or should ever have. I am quite guilty of indulging in the third of those options. By no means to the extreme, there are just certain things I see and I know that Jack would like them. To me that’s the hallmark of knowing your child. I’ve never been guilty of using my son as a projection of my own vanity….errr…unless of course this web comic counts. But, even if it does, there are those that go well beyond that.
I’m sorry, but if your 6 month old is rocking a JUICY COUTURE jumpsuit I am going to summarily put you in the same category as those who bring kids the same age to a PG-13 movie and are then surprised that they don’t sit quietly the entire time, while ear-shattering special effects piped through George Lucas produced sound systems rattle their tiny brain. In short, I get to tell you that you wanted to have an accessory and not a child. Judgmental? Absolutely. Justified? Probably not, but the hell with it. I’m part of a duo that is successfully raising a smart, strong, fast-learning son that I’m confident will not be an asshole when he is older. While I’ll toss a stylish hat on him when it’s sunny, if you ever find that I’ve gotten him a pair of baby UGZ or that he’s wearing a Tommy Hilfiger Infant Suit complete with pocket square….please…PLEASE…slap me across the face and go “No! No! Cut it out.” Well, he does have a Yankees hat, but that’s different. Any good religion will tell you ya gotta start indoctrinating early.
And there goes half my audience.
You also have to be careful with those products that would seemingly provide some ease, as you will be constantly be bombarded with the unsolicited howls of “Oh, Jack, just HAS to have one of these!” I think the one that most people recommended was the Sophie Giraffe teething thing. I was amazed that such an extensive cross-section of my friends and loved ones gave it a huge thumbs up and it ended up becoming a glorified bath toy that Jack hardly ever put in his mouth.
So, you’ve got to accept that you’re going to spend 45 dollars on a Penguin shaped mirror that plays sounds and all he’s gonna wanna do is suck on the strings on top of it. That he’s more interested in the large Amazon.com box that his 200 dollar walker came in than he is in the item. And that, in the end, your grandparents were right when they scoffed at all the money you spend when he’d be just as happy playing with “wooden spoons and Dad’s keys.”
Though, on the flip side of things and the side I tend to embrace, there is one important ideal that I’ve always followed. Tuck in. It’s story time. When I was around 11 I started going to comic book conventions. I remember meeting this man who, at the time, was the age of my father. He wasn’t selling anything. He had rented a space and was simply showcasing his collection of Spider-Man memorabilia. He had every book, action figure, Halloween mask, juice glass, and much much more. It seemed that anything that bore the image of Spider-Man this guy had made it his duty to collect. He looked so happy at this accomplishment that most would consider a waste of time and money. Yet it made him happy. His smile was 10 feet wide under his giant mustache. He had a t-shirt on that just said in big, blue letters:
WHO EVER DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS.
Simplistic and perhaps even a little morbid to some people, but to me it was and remains a way to hold on to a huge piece of your childhood. I still do that. I still marvel at a cool new toy as some guys my age would at a new car or a hunting rifle or a hot stock tip. They’re all toys. So, until Jack figures out what his “toy” is, I consider it my job (and my honor) to provide him with those that I can.