For days, the kids have been asking to go shopping, specifically to the Dollar Spot at Target. This is not because they need anything, but because this is their happy place. They are absolutely giddy about the idea of sifting through cheap clutter, looking for a treasure.
I’m afraid I taught him this. When you’re feeling less than, head over to Target and buy crap. When you’re a little empty or needy for love, fill that hole (and your cart) with plastic thingamajigs you’ll throw away in a few months. When you’re emotions are too intense, distract and numb yourself with bright pencils, clever erasers, and silly stickers.
As an adult, I’m savvier about consuming. I don’t skip into Target the way my kids do, but I still have a list full of more wants than needs. I don’t buy completely worthless crap, but I do find myself justifying why I need another pair of sunglasses or to upgrade my cell phone. I don’t cry when it’s time to leave, but I do have spending hangovers after buying too much.
Now I see all these same habits in my kids. They are giddy to consume and are let down when the stuff they bought doesn’t deliver. When they’re restless, they always believe the answer is at Target’s Spot.
So, we’re talking about all this and trying to change our family’s attitude toward spending. Mike and I have taken a hard look at our finances and have cancelled cable and our health club membership to cut out some of the overspending. We are trying to quit the cycle of splurging and purging in our own lives.
We’re also talking to our kids about spending. We’re asking them to make lists of wants and needs before we go to the store. We’re doing a little better about teaching them to give generously instead of just spending voraciously. We’re trying to take some of the emotion out of shopping.
But even with all these lessons about stewardship, we sometimes find ourselves in a bad place. We find ourselves with an empty morning on our hands, and we impulsively swing by Target. Everyone piles out of the minivan with loud ecstatic shouts. We race inside to buy the ugly metal watering cans and bug-eyed stuffed dogs.
And here we are again. We forgot to have the talks about stewardship, we forgot to discuss needs and wants, and we’re back at the exact same Spot we’ve been before.