What Children Really Want
Lets not beat around the bush. Kids want stuff, don’t they? They want more toys – the more expensive the better – and they want treats. Children want lots of treats. In fact, children fervently follow the belief that more is best. Which, despite our finest efforts, is hard to argue. Having an inexhaustible supply of energy and wanting, children can “out want” us to distraction. So many a parent caves in, concedes, and collapses.
Just wander down any old aisle in a supermarket and watch the whimpering, begging, and crying (And that’s just the husbands wanting to push the trolley!).
But children know this stuff like the back of a candy bar wrapper. Every nuance is studied and practiced with precision. So when you glide slightly faster past the candies and treats, children know exactly when to put their plan into action. With A Team timing, they press the “Pleeeez!” button, pushing their heels down hard to slow down the trolley, and begin begging.
“You’ve got to give me this. I never get anything! All the other children do. You don’t love me. Look how cheap it is. I won’t ask for anything else (with a quick check behind their back revealing crossed fingers) and I promise to be good.”
If you relent to this onslaught you will be met with prodigious grovelling that lasts for about 30 seconds. Though this shrinks down to nanoseconds in inverse proportion to the amount of times you’ve surrendered before. Flourishes of, “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. You are the world’s best/greatest/kindest person ever, ever there is. May goats forever graze and grow fat in your fields and may laughter eternally tinkle in your tents as you greet the Saharan dawn with radiant beauty and a good factor 30 sunscreen.”
All right, I know I’m taking it too far. But you know what I mean. The emotional intensity of this “after grovel” is meant to reinforce that, really, you are nice to children after all. So that previous crack they made saying you’re a witch who eats children for breakfast was just a joke.
But as good as goodies are, children know they’re not good enough. So they like to remind you that events count too. I’m talking movies, meals, friends, and activities. Everything is possible on one condition: so long as it’s fun.
Polite children will hold back on many of these demands and even resist supplying a ransom note. Whereas, more brat-like beasts will insist you get them an “Oompah Loompah” now, and you better be quick.
But I’d be selling children short if I implied that that’s all they want. Sure, they desire these things because we’ve made them to be craved. If there were no treats and expensive toys there’d be none to demand or harangue for. So in a way, we grown ups have created a monster from indulgence. Not just as parents, but as a society that pushes products at children and treats them as little consumers. We have pulled the chocks away from the wheels of a squadron of sky-high wants, and children have been only to happy to oblige by letting their expectations fly.
And yet, being a believer in children, I know they want more than all we can buy or supply. Though at times they don’t know it, what children really want but find so hard to express is their profound need to be together with and loved by parents who care. That is children’s ultimate hunger; whether they appear to want them or not.
As a parent you know your children want you to be their guide, protector, and sometimes, your friend. They want your comforting love and acceptance, to make sense of this sometimes crazy world, and find their own feet (even when their feet don’t reach). Knowing that wanting has gotten out of hand we can’t blame our children for it. The problem lies with the cat of consumerism and that has well and truly been let out of the bag.
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