“MOM! Brittany’s got a gaming system!” Declan came running into the room. Here’s the part in the conversation where I’m supposed to be indignant.
“Yeah. She has a gaming system.”
“Why don’t I have a gaming system?”
“This is America, kid. You want to keep up with the neighbors, get a job and buy one.” There’s a Soviet joke that says that in America, you work hard to keep up w the Jones. If the Jones get a Caddy, you work hard and buy one. Equality.
In the Soviet Union if you want to stay on par with the Ivanovs and they get a Caddy, you sneak over and smash it. Voila. Equality.
I think the boy’s missing the essence of my political allegory, though.
“Brittany’s older than you. She can have a gaming system.” Actually, I’m considering getting a gaming system for Christmas. There are several reasons for this, the first of which is that Declan keeps asking for things I don’t want in the house. He wants videos of which I don’t approve–cartoons that make kids fresh. He also wants a cat, of which I do approve. The dog disagrees.
“Too bad for YOU, Mommy. I’m skipping you. I’m asking Santa.” He wiggles his face and rear end in what I detect to be the touchdown dance of a kid who’s never watched football. I say that Santa passes his checklist by me. The boy doesn’t believe this. Santa is magic. He overrules moms and dogs.
The real reason I want to get a gaming system is that it’s something really cool I can take away. I’m running out of things that get his attention when I’m mad.
I’ve never had a gaming system. My dad got pong off the back of a truck, but I never had an Atari or Nintendo like my brother. When my mom punished me, she sent me to my room. I loved my room. All I wanted to do was read anyway. It was a victory. You can’t take literacy away from a kid. That’s why it’s important to embrace commercialism that can removed in the unfortunate case of punishment.
Last night, I discovered that Declan didn’t just make a pen mustache. “Mom, it’s my favorite pen mustache. I’m a man.” He also used the Bic pen to draw his favorite alphabet letters across the screen of my iMac.
“Why did you do that?” Apparently, he “needed to write the letter F.”
“Big boys don’t write the letter F on things!” Except various walls, bathrooms, and subway stations. “You’re not big enough to share my computer!” I took it away. Already, he’s found other things to do. He’s not suffering enough. He’s happy as a clam ignoring my instructions to please pick up his puzzle pieces. So, I have to dig deeper for a punishment. Today, I might go to the farm without him. But if I had a gaming system to take away…that would be magic. Threatening to change the password on the computer worked for two months of behavior inspiration.
That is why I’m considering abandoning my attempts reduce material goods and joining the rest of the hypercommercialized West in buying everything the kid wants. I think it’s a great parenting strategy. I won’t have to teach about love, respect, deliberateness, and listening the first time, and I’ll no longer wonder if he needs ADHD meds. I’ll simply have more stuff to take away.