Monday, December 16, 2013

Ain't Nobody Got Cash For That

Hark, winter is upon us in all her majestic frostiness!

 If you have a kid of the age that still believes in magical Christmas then this time of year is once again fun for you. And it is every bit as exciting seeing it through the light of their sparkling eyes, until the part where you actually have to pay for presents. So extra congratulations to you if your child is currently in the even shorter age group where magical excitement and inexpensive taste coincide. Live it up while it lasts. And by live it up I mean buy them stuff from the dollar store. (Just don't let them put any of it in their mouths, because...China and lead.)

Luckily for us, J falls in this short-lived blissfully cheap category. He is just as excited about a new $1 Hot Wheel car as he is about a $25 remote control race car. When it comes to Christmas he's equally excited by the tree, the Abominable Snowman, and all the lights around town as he is the presents. He does have a "Christmas List" he will tell you about if you ask him. Here's a thrilling video just so you get a clear idea of the depth of his enthusiasm people.

So what he wants for Christmas is a basketball hoop for his bedroom (how he knows these exist or that we got him one a week ago and it is hidden in the basement, I do not know) a ball and two balloons. About every other day he'll add that he wants a race car with really big eyes to the list. Done and done on the cheap.

I've been to Toys R' Us one time since the holiday madness descended upon us in September (?) this year. J is growing like a beanstalk. Since we had gift card from his birthday I went there in search of pants. Clearance pants to be specific, because that's how I roll; I roll my cart straight to clearance in any store in which I step foot. Alas, they didn't have anything in his size. What they did have were half-crazed relations of children with very expensive toy habits. Have you seen the cost of the "Hottest New Toys!?!" Everything on those lists are upwards of $50 bucks. EVERYTHING.

Let me tell you the only time the words "HOT" and "NEW" excitement me is if you are talking about Krispy Kreme donuts. "HOT and NEW!"? No thanks. I'll take "FUN and DURABLE!" Or even better "GUARANTEED TO GIVE YOU FIFTEEN UNINTERRUPTED MINUTES OF PEACE WHILE YOUR CHILD PLAYS QUIETLY CLEARANCE!" Where is that aisle at Toys R' Us?

All this crazed damn-the-cost toy grabbing got me thinking about how to steer my kiddos away from extra expensive toys for the remainder of their childhood. Kids latch onto the most ridiculously priced things and for my liking there are way too many years between likes expensive toys and understands the value of a dollar. So here's my completely unrealistic masterplan to halt the development of expensive toy habits:

1. Never allow a child to play video games, because we'd have to sell a car to afford a new gaming system. Literally, most of us have owned cars worth less than the new Xbox thingamajig.

2. Similarly never allow a child to play with Legos. What begins as an innocent little Lego addiction inevitably grows and grows until they want this:

 Or God help you if your Lego lover ever finds out about this: 

3. Never ever allow a child to play with a Leap Frog Device. In fact, discourage technology all together...the Luddites were on to something. A one hour a week exposure to Oregon Trail can begin at about 10 years of age. This should be sufficient technology use until about 8th grade, then dig the TI-84 Scientific Calculator out from the box in your parent's basement, because an abacus just won't cut it these days.

4. Never allow a little one to have play dates with kids that have older siblings. Those little buggers know too much. You are risking exposure to very costly things, like technology (see #3).

5. Some parents ask potential playdate moms and dads about household guns or smoking, you ask potential playdate parents whether they own a Thomas the Train Table. Listen carefully, your little one must never be allowed to imagine these table exist outside of toy or book stores.

6. Never encourage children to play real hockey. Equipment and league fees will leave you poorer than a church mouse and...4AM ice times.

7. Read all books approximately 40 times before allowing into the home permanently. This has nothing to do with money except that therapy is expensive. Children do not tire of reading the same story over and over. THEY NEVER TIRE OF IT. You must make sure that cute innocent little story won't drive you into therapy when read 4000 times. Whomever blessed us with "A Crack in the Track" I could kill you with my bare hands. Not really, but almost.

8. Carefully cultivate your child's imagination, a love for the library and the great outdoors (as in just wandering around outside, not as in skiing, snowboarding, hunting or other expensive past times.) These things have only one thing in common...FREE!

9. Do not let a child watch commercials. DVR everything and fast foward through all advertising. Also in an effort to avoid advertisement exposure, immediately discard all junk mail.

Following these nine simple steps should ensure our boys remain oblivious to all expensive toys. In case of the small but significant chance that this masterplan fails and my children begin begging me for astronomically priced toys, fashions, or technologies. I have a back up plan. Here it is in six simple words,
"Ain't Nobody Got Cash For That!"
Yes sir, it's as simple as that. I heard  (a version of) it often enough growing up to make me aware of the value of a dollar. I grew up somewhere on the lower middle class end of the spectrum. There was money for food, sports, and clearance clothes. There is a reason I'm a bargain shopper. I got it from my mama.

I'm sure I bothered my parents at one point or another for things we couldn't afford. It wasn't that often though, because early on I realized there was no point to it. So just as soon as I could make money, I got busy making it. I worked my way through high school and college. It wasn't always fun but it was educational.

Living modestly is an excellent lesson to teach your kids even when your financial circumstances allow for more indulgence (ours doesn't). It is never a bad thing to know how to live inexpensively. Being upfront and honest about your family's financial circumstances helps show your children the things you truly value. There is no shame in being unable to afford material things. NO SHAME PEOPLE. Your children will adapt well to any financial circumstance so long as they are safe, well-fed, and attention is paid to them. Most of the people we look up to in this world started with very little. Many of them died with very little.
That being said J is getting three (smallish) presents from us for Christmas. Santa is bringing one big awesome castle set. But truthfully, Santa is being bankrolled by J's birthday gift cards. Whoever gave him the Amazon card last month, practice your HO HO HO because this year you a Yeager child's Santa. As for my other oh so adorable child? Well he's five months old. He is oblivious to the holiday madness, and he isn't getting jack from us for Christmas cause ain't nobody got cash for that!

Merry Christmas to you all and to quote the great Clark Griswald, when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down your chimney I hope he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!