It made me so happy to see her happy. Who wouldn't be happy with the happiness of their child? But I am horrified to realise that I have raised a spoiled brat. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating… But it’s true. I believe kids going around in nature with little stuff and a gang to play with as in Africa are much happier and more likely to be happier. Certainly, I’m excluding the lack of food or the lack of basic needs of life. But apart from those, we really need so little in life.
“Am I raising a spoiled brat?”
Let me tell you what made me ask this question:
I go to the market on Thursdays. And most often times, I come back with a lot of new things for Lara. There are dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, t-shirts, sweaters and jumpers for 1 Euro. I buy large sizes thinking she will be using as she grows up. We also have the cousin and friends who could use them too. They’re 1 Euro after all. The price of a cup of coffee I don’t drink. So now, I have a wardrobe for her until she turns 15 or so, and then she can use my wardrobe. We don’t really need to go shopping anymore.
Anyway… Today I didn’t buy anything. I set myself a challenge. “Only 3 pieces and/or 3 Euros.” As Lara had been wearing the same sweater all week, and as I had been arranging the drawers, I realised she had too much. I also remembered that we actually need so very little, we can use so very little in life.
This buying thing is a habit. The urge to buy is a mindset. It is a matter of ignoring the social and media pressure to own. I had gained immunity to all that. Then, living in Italy, being together with an Italian man, I changed back. My buying habits changed, but it's very difficult to change the nature of a person. I personally do not care what I put on. I can go around with the same pijama on for days if I'm not going out. Changing clothes every day is a chore for me. Even if I did that, I guess I couldn’t finish everything in my wardrobe in a year. So this week,
I didn’t buy anything.
When Lara came back, I was telling her, “You know I went to the market today, I didn’t buy anything…”
She thought I said I bought something for her, because that’s the usual scenario, and she started running joyfully saying “I run if you have bought new things for me…”
I repeated: “But I didn’t buy anything for you.”
She stopped in her tracks. I felt mean for saying that. It wasn’t nice to see a child be disappointed, changing from happy to sad in an instant. She started a shrieky cry.
I tried to explain her. “But you always wear the same dress. What are you going to do with new things?”
Of course, she cannot reason. A child is not a logical creature. It’s disputable how logical we adults are when it comes to greed and habits too, but let’s not get into that now.
She calmed down after a while and became her normal self. I didn’t blame her. I questioned myself. After all, I am the one who got her used to all this. I am the one who has been buying stuff and exhibiting them every week on the couch for her and for papa to see when they come back home. It’s good to be able to provide your child with nice things, but is it really good to do more than necessary?
My daughter is not really spoilt. Even if she was, she does not deserve to be called a spoiled brat. I am the one who would be guilty of spoiling her.
She has so many toys too. A big cupboard and boxes full of toys. I tell people not to bring presents but to make a donation to an orphanage instead, people still buy stuff. There is no getting away from it in our modern society. That’s why I have made a point to avoid Christmas and birthdays away from family even though I like the family dinners and getting together.
As for the things I have accumulated… I guess I’m not giving up my things as Lara will be using them one day, hopefully. But I started making a big package of what Lara doesn’t use, doesn't play with, put them away. I'll be taking them to an orphanage and make her give away. So that she learns giving too.
And maybe… We might even go to Africa together after all. Maybe it’s better she experiences and witnesses poverty first-hand. Because my telling her stories of hungry, homeless children or showing pictures is not enough.
Yes, perhaps there just may be another reason for me to travel to every country in the world.