On Friday night, my 6 year old son said to me “Can we go to Wal*mart? I want to look for this cool video game Skylanders.” The first thing that crossed my mind was “I would rather clean the bathrooms” and the second was “Why? Christmas was only four weeks ago.” I had expected this request to come up a few weeks earlier as the moms at the bus stop the first week back at school after the holidays had been saying this is what their boys were asking for. So we were a few weeks behind.
I had no idea how much this game would be but given the description that my little guy was giving me “You need the game and the powerpack and the 3 dudes come in the starter pack but I want to buy more than the starter pack.” Oh dear! How much is this going to be I thought.
On the way to the big blue monster of a store which I try to avoid most weekends, I tried to prepare my son by saying “We are going to see how much this thing is. It sounds like it is a lot of money. If it is, then we won’t be buying it.”
“But I will spend my own money.”
While he has been putting his allowance in his piggy bank each week, I also knew that he had dipped into his savings a few times to buy a book or two from the school book orders. I suspected his savings were under $10. Nowhere near enough to buy the simplest video game.
“If the game is a lot of money, we won’t be buying it. So no tears.” I know my son. If I say no way to the price tag as we stand in the aisle, he will harrass me trying to change my mind. There was no way this was going to happen with this situation. He had received enough gifts at Christmas.
Sure enough when we found the game it was just shy of $70.00 without tax. I immediately explained that this was far too much money and he didn’t have enough in his savings. He said in a broken voice “But we could all pay – you, me, big brother and daddy.”
“We will have to go home and talk about it. Time to go.”
He stayed standing in the aisle trying to think of another approach. I walked away. That was when his tantrum began – calling me names, pushing me back to the aisle. Not pretty. I swear this is why they put the games section at the back of the store – so parents like me, can suffer the most abuse from their children in front of strangers and neighbours. I tried to smile and laugh. But all I wanted to do was cry and yell at him. I tried to explain to him in front of the couples buying towels and food, “Money doesn’t grow on trees. You have to save. Not everything can be done instantly.” Finally I picked up this awkward, distraught boy who was still calling me a bad parent and tried to carry him out of the store while he hurled angry words at me. When we got in the car, the tears were streaming down his face with a bitter expression on his mouth. Not fun. All the way home he cried and said he would talk to his daddy.I turned the music up loudly so I couldn’t hear his abuse.
No luck with his dad or his brother. Both knew the price of the game and said no way. Then little guy started to count out his money from his piggy bank. Yup. $10 and change. He was not happy.
Now he is asking for a Walmart gift card for his birthday which is 5 months away and is all ready talking about what he wants to buy his brother for his birthday which is in 4 months. He is strategizing on what he needs to do to save for the game. At least he is thinking about how to add money up with a goal in mind. Knowing my son, he won’t forget and he will put his mind to it. I just hope the grandparents don’t hear about this and little guy does save his money.