We were the last family to get a microwave, the last family to get a colored TV, the last family to get a VCR, and the last family to get a cordless phone and answering machine. Notice the trend? I’m repeating the cycle of being technologically deprived with my own children. They do not own any gaming systems, portable or otherwise, and neither of their parents owns an iPhone.
At church, the other day, I sat behind a mom roughly my age with young children. Our families have many parallels, but then she stood to sing and out of her coat pocket fell her iPhone. I smiled to myself wondering when I would get one, someday, I guess. It’s a little inevitable.
But for now, I am appearing very archaic and old-fashioned. I got made fun of at a school board meeting when I pulled out my paper calendar to write down an important date. My husband pointed out that my lack of electronics is equal to having a parent with a fanny pack. I think he might be right.
One major reason we aren’t keeping us is money. We live on a pretty strict budget. However, I know other people who live on tight budgets who do have these gadgets. So, that is not entirely it. I’m sure if it was more of a priority we’d have them.
My parents did an excellent job of modeling want and need, maybe to the extreme. My sister and I often laugh at these childhood memories. When we took vacations, we skipped meals. Visiting the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock is still as vivid to me now as it was in 1988. Why? Because I was hungry, starving. We had breakfast and had been hitting the significant East Coast historical sites at a vicious pace. It was about 2 o’clock and we were all hungry, although not complaining. Then I saw it, the ice cream cart. I knew my father’s weakness for ice cream and knew this was our big chance. He caved and later admitted that his stomach was growling too.
When my sister and I ran track, my mother would give us five dollars to split after our meets for food. Even in the early 90’s five dollars didn’t go very far. But we were clever girls and were able to get what we needed by using a little savvy and strategy.
Hans and I recently took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge. (Our children are hardly deprived and neither were my sister and I.) I often tell the boys, “Well, we could spend our money on that, but then we would not be able to do….” And when we do chose to do something extra I say, “We are doing this because we planned and saved for it.
It was a good mini-vacation. We enjoyed the water park. We did not enjoy the consumerism that surrounded us. This place was designed to get you to spend money. Just the way the halls and stores within the lodge were designed tempted children to say, “Please, mom, please. Can I have those wolf ears?” At the evening story time I noticed that my boys were the only children not wearing the signature wolf-ear-headbands. They seemed just as happy. They also seemed to be the only children not being photographed during the story hour. The mom beside me spent the whole story time editing one shot she took of her wolf clad child with her phone, zooming in and out, cropping, and then posting the shot to FB as soon as her picture was perfect for social viewing.
My oldest is playing basketball and loving it. Last night were his team pictures. I was the only parent who had not purchased a photo package. I did feel a bit embarrassed as I asked, after the professional was through with the team, if I could get a team shot with the camera I had brought from home. Everyone cooperated. I even got a solo shot of Bren holding his treasured basketball. He beamed and smiled.
On our drive home I started to regret my choice, “Honey, was that embarrassing for you? Were you OK that I brought my own camera and took a picture of you?”
He nodded and smiled, “No that was just fine. You know, sometimes if you buy certain things then you can’t buy other things like toilet paper.”
I’m sure there will come a time when I can’t get away with all this frugality, but I think the lesson is being learned and a healthy foundation is being laid within my boys. And when the time is right, one of these Christmases, they’ll be an Xbox under the Christmas tree and iPhone in my hands to document the much anticipated moment.