Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Off Topic Tuesday - Childhood Obsession

It seems to me that in typical American family situations when a child shows an interest in a certain cartoon iconic figure some switch goes off in their brain that ignites consumerism at its best (or worst as the case may really be in my opinion).

Around 18-20 months I let Chicken Little watch TV for the first time. I was pregnant, had mega morning sickness, and was recovering from a broken knee cap... it was bound to happen. Just so happened that he woke up at 8am, and on PBS at that time was Curious George. I would let him watch a 15 minute segment. He really enjoyed it and would light up every time it came on. We happened to have a hand-me-down shirt with Curious George on it, and he would always get excited to wear it.

I started peeking online shopping for Curious George books, videos, clothing, toys, etc. Then I took a moment to stand back and think about what I was starting to do. I was going to develop and encourage an unhealthy obsession of Curious George with my child. Did I really want to do that?

No, I did not want to do that. There is a fine line between encouraging the love of a child with a television character and being a collector of every POS with a smiling monkey on it.

I recalled babysitting as a teenager and dealing with children fighting over certain plates at meal time, "I want the strawberry shortcake bowl!" ... "No, I want it!" ... Hysterical fit of screaming sisters follow by time outs and a stressed out babysitter. Ugh.... really? It's something you EAT on.

I know picky children is something you can't truly avoid, but I'm going to do myself a favor and not feed into the frenzy. I'm not going to go out of my way to buy a particular character. Sure, we have a few items around... but I feel that by not buying into the madhouse of one particular character it's going to cut down on the possessive nature that happens when a child idolizes something. It doesn't always have to be a character either. I've found myself hiding certain toys during playdates that I have noted to be a hot button toy. Things like trucks or trains will get put away before other children come over because it seems like every time there are children battling over it senselessly; pushing, crying, screaming, stealing, and ultimately raising blood pressures of the parents who are here to get a little socialization of their own. Oddly enough, it has never been my child doing the scream/pushing/crying. Not sure if it is because that's just his nature, or if it is because he hasn't had opportunity to raise a particular item/character to iconic level. We'll see how well this goes over with child number two before I go patting myself on the back about it.

Am I mean? Probably. But the other thing to think about is the carbon foot print. Sure, I could make my son the ultimate Curious George bedroom... but what happens a few years from now when he no longer likes it? Sell it? Throw it all away and buy the next fad? Or... how about if I just have a relaxing neutral toned bedroom instead... because that is what a bedroom is for... relaxing and sleeping. I'd rather buy some nice USA made bedding that will last until it falls apart before we need to buy something else, not something that is disposable simply because he has grown out of love with it.

I want my child to actually like something because it is good quality for the price and has the smallest carbon footprint to boot - not because it has a smiling monkey on it. We're too practical in this house for that kind of business.


  1. We like to buy toothbrushes that are their favorite characters, in 6 months they get thrown out anyways and the kids can choose again.

  2. I got my daughter crap loads of EVERYTHING princess... she has tons of barbies, and posters, and bedding, and movies, etc... She LOVES her disney princess... It was probably a bad Idea, but having her young, she is (and will always be) mommy's little princess.
    I admire you for holding back. I have learned that I cannot spend tons of money on her. and when we go to the store, she is not allowed to say "I want.." or "I need.." it's always "this would be nice to have", I feel that by using this instead of saying want or need, she will learn that not everything in life is a "have to have" item, rather something that is just nice to have. I don't know though. Like I said, Having her so young has kind of poisoned my brain. haha.