Conspicuous Consumption

Can anyone tell me what happened to the days when kids were happy with a small wading pool in the backyard, or to run through a garden sprinkler on a hot day?

A few weeks ago, I was thinking it would be nice to have a wading pool for those days I don’t feel like schlepping three kids to the swim club, so the girls and I took a trip to Target.

C was SO excited.  We spent a few minutes comparing the different options, and twenty-five dollars later, we came home with “the pink one.” Because evidently if something’s not pink, it isn’t worth having, at least in the eyes of a certain four-year-old little girl who lives in my house.

All the way home, she talked! in! exclamation! points! about all the fun! things! she was going to do in her new pool.  And she asked me eleventy-jillion times if we could set it up as soon as we got home.

Thanks to the kindness of a neighbor, within an hour of arriving home, the pool was inflated and full of water, and two little girls were “swimming”.  When their big brother got home from school, he and the neighborhood kids joined in the fun.  Isn’t it great when simple things provide so much entertainment?

The next day was Saturday, and we went out for breakfast.  On our way home, all the kids could talk about was getting into their pool.  Husband and I were thrilled with this plan because we knew we would be spending all afternoon working in the yard, and the pool would keep the children both occupied and safe from heatstroke.

Well.  We pulled into our driveway to find that our neighbors had just purchased this, making them the sixth family in our neighborhood and the third on our block to own one of these monstrosities.

D and C immediately started begging to go play on the waterslide, the excitement and anticipation of swimming in their measly little wading pool long forgotten.  And really, who can blame them?  I mean, who would choose to play in this if you could play in THIS?

Have you SEEN one of these water slides in real life?  They are out of control.  Now, don’t get me wrong; the waterslides ARE fun.  And when they set them up, my neighbors are all very generous about making them open to anyone who wants to play.  My issue isn’t about jealousy or the neighbors “one-upping” me or anything of the sort.

My issue is with how everything keeps getting bigger and better all the time, thus breeding the discontent and sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in our society today.  It’s like this in every sphere of our lives.  The waterslide is just a small example.

As soon as we purchase something, “they” come out with a newer and better model, and on and on the cycle goes.  It is becoming harder and harder to find satisfaction in the simple things in life.

I want to be content with what I have.  I want my children to be content with what they have.  We have so much.  It seems like we Americans are inundated with stuff.  And the more we get, the more we want.  I know I do.

So how can we learn to enjoy the things we have without coveting the next bigger, better, newer thing?

And how can we instill that contentment and a spirit of thankfulness in the hearts of our children?

The kids were perfectly happy in our little $25 wading pool.  So why do we feel the need to go out and buy a $400 waterslide?

Well, not we.  We won’t be getting a waterslide anytime soon.

I mean, why should we when we have three neighbors who are perfectly willing to share?  You can bet that we’re not going to be declining the invitation.

But really, the kids would have been just as happy with a sprinkler.