At the moment, I’m trying to teach my boys that happiness doesn’t come from ‘things.’ You know, the materialistic things that they are pressured to want via television advertisements, toy marketing companies and their peers. As Christmas is approaching, they have discovered that the one and only thing that they really want, the Skylanders Nintendo DS game, is only available for the 3D console, not the DS Lite or DSi XL that they have (yes, I upgraded them last year, but there is no way I am buying them the 3D console because Nintendo are struggling to sell the 3D version and feel that they may have some success if they issue out limited use games). They don’t seem to be as desperate as they used to be for new games, and are still happy playing on games that they have had for months now. So maybe my teaching is starting to work.
Recently I showed one of the mums from school my house when I had it ready for my open houses ready to sell. She asked me where all the boys’ toys are. I showed her a couple of hiding spots, but as I am not one to keep things when they have stopped playing them, they only have what’s left that they use. And I’m glad that they are at that age where they aren’t interested in big things anymore – just Bey Blades (high-performance spinning tops), DS/Wii games, books, board games and drawing. They have sports equipment, but the real ‘toy’ factor has gone. Which makes me struggle with what to buy them for Christmas.
And this is where I guess we start thinking out of the square. Like adults tend to enjoy, children also enjoy the gift of adventure. Vouchers to theme parks, the movies, indoor amusement parks, ten-pin bowling, rock climbing, even vouchers to outdoor adventure shops to buy themselves Camelbaks, hiking sticks, protein bars (astronaut food!), safety equipment, thermal clothing – anything that makes them look ready to enjoy themselves outside the home.
So I guess that my teaching is that they get more out of the experience of adventure, more happiness out of their spirit of adventure than they do with a collection of ‘things’ that they don’t interest them six months later.
I was looking at some photos of my boys yesterday when we were last at in the States. It was amazing how much their faces lit up, their smiles were not forced but so excited to be in new surrounds doing something completely different. I looked at photos when we went down the coast for the day, and again, their faces are just so much more alive than they are floating around home doing the same old, same old. They are truly happy when it’s the three of us doing things together. They are truly happy when they see me happy.
I’ve told my boys that I don’t want ‘things’ anymore. I’m happy with consumable products and experiences, and they are starting to agree. They will be happy if their Christmas stockings are filled with food, chocolate, socks & undies, bubble bath and passes to their favourite things. They have all they want, they tell me every day. They have a mum who loves them, a brother who ‘likes’ them and are thankful that they have food on the table. They know that these are the things that are most important.