I come from a middle class family – where dad worked for HAL and mom was a teacher. Sister and I were not pampered children, we got our basic essentials and anything more was a bonus. Be it toys or accessories or clothes. We saw mom and dad work very hard. Mom woke up at 4.00 am every morning to pack our lunches and do the chores , before rushing off to teach at school. We saw our dad do overtime shifts and get back home at midnight though he left for work at 5.30am. Knowingly or unknowingly the value of money and spending and saving was induced into our tiny minds.
J comes from a middle class family as well. J and his 3 sisters – with Dad being the only working member had his share of “valuing money” lessons in life. Dad was involved with electronics business and later got an opportunity in the middle east , which helped and they waded through. Ofcourse, J got his most valued bi-cycle as a teenager after several tantrums and requests.
We grew up with lessons , life taught us in valuing money and materials.
With M, I have always been scared that he would be a spoilt child , who would not realise the value of money or materials. For this reason, I consciously ensure that I refuse his requests for everything he asks for at the super market. For ex. If M picks one chocolate item – I let him have it. While at the counter he sees lined up sweet bags and asks for one of them too, then I ask him to choose if he wants the chocolate that he earlier picked up or does he want the sweet bag. I tell him , we cannot afford everything he likes. J and I , follow this pattern everywhere in toy shops, clothes, shoes. I am not sure if this helps, but at the least we thought, he would get an understanding that he cannot have it all in his life.
Now, this strategy has been working for quiet sometime. M being the easy child he is, has understood. Even when he was a toddler, we explained this concept saying ” we don’t have money”.
I am not sure , if we made this grave mistake of inducing into his head that we have no money and that we are poor. It hit me when the other day M mentioned ” Mummy, we are poor , Right ?. I replied saying No beta , we are not poor, we do have money with us. It’s just that we have to spend sensibly and should no indulge all the time. I convinced myself that he understood. Until.
An evening this week, M came to the kitchen – while I was whisking up dinner. M was explaining something and I was involved near the stove yet still listened. He said, Mummy, We will fold a blanket and keep it in the hot-wheels bag (stroller bag he uses while travelling). We will take a music system with us. We will go to a nice place – where there are lots of people. Now, this induced my interest. I was wondering if my child is so tired of being in the holiday club wants a vacation very badly.
What he said next, cracked me up.
Mummy, We will play the music. We will remove the blanket from the hot-wheels bag and spread it on the floor. When the music plays I will do my groovy moves (dance moves that he learnt for a recent concert in school – for lego movie song “everything is awesome”). All the people watching will throw money in the blanket.
I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Holding back my tears induced by laughing, I asked. What do you need the money for M. For which , prompt came the answer ” To buy Toys”.
Dad’s a design engineer in the semiconductor sector and mom is in the banking field (just joined), who live in the UK. No, don’t take me wrong – I’m not blowing my own trumpet. It’s just that I wonder why my 5 year old child wants to beg.
Have we messed up Money matters in M’s mind ? I wonder .