Each September, since before the boy was born, the hubs and I go on a 'camping' vacation to my sister-in-laws trailer, which is equipped with all the necessities and many luxuries including a full canopy cover and both an indoor and an outdoor TV.
Although in the past its always been dreary and wet, this year we have been blessed with an Indian Summer and bountiful sunshine. So much that by the late afternoon the boy isn't interested in playing in the park, he'd rather sit in the air conditioned trailer and relax with his new friend 'Diego'.
The few other kids around the trailer park are constantly asking if the boy can come and play, but given that the boy is much younger than these kids, generally dislikes playing with other kids and doesn't particularly like people in his personal space this seemed a bit surprising. That is until my mother-in-law pointed out the obvious. These kids aged anywhere from five to thirteen don't want to play with my two and a half year old son, they want to play with the toys he brings to the park.
One little boy remarked 'wow, he has a lot of toys' when he brought a bucket, a shovel and 3 cars to the park. This made me wonder how few toys this little five year old actually had. But when his eight year old sister explained to me that you can get money for returning pop bottles and cans and that their family was collecting all the cans they could because money was tight, I felt bad about taking the toys away from them when we left the park.
Situations like this leave me sad and a little confused; I'm sad because I wish that all children could live a life without struggle, where all their needs are easily met. I want my children to have everything they need and some of the things they want, but without the sense of entitlement that often accompanies affluence. That being said, I grew up poor and I truly believe that I am better off because of it; that I understand the value of money, the cost of food and the difference between what I want and need. All things I want for my children.
So I'm left wondering, how exactly do we walk the line between desire and survival, effectively teaching our children to value what they have and to work for what they want?