ALL I WANT. 08/04/13
I have no solid basis for this, but I’m pretty sure that humanity invented the word “Want” about 10 minutes after it invented fire. As soon as people have something, they want something better, be it a bigger cave in a nicer part of the valley, a spear with a sharper point or an iPhone 5. It’s an evolutionary imperative. If we didn’t have wants, we’d all still be living in crappy caves with not enough storage, a lousy view and last years’ style in loin cloths.
However, some of our species seem to have missed that cave painting. Take my son, for instance. He’s a truly great kid with a great future ahead of him. He’s caring, articulate, insightful and thoughtful, all truly commendable qualities in a fully rounded human being, but he has almost no needs.
Let me explain. After we drop his sister off at her riding class, we have just over an hour to ourselves. I ask him what he wants to do, and invariably it is a trip to the bakery for a cookie. Actually, usually two, if they only have the regular sized ones, but given the full run of the store he makes a modest selection and is inordinately happy with his choice.
Birthdays are a case in point. I gave his sister a gift card for the American Girl Doll store for a not insignificant amount which made her very happy. If you’ve seen the catalogue, you will understand just how pricey the stuff is, yet my son had some trouble in even thinking of ideas for gifts and settled eventually on a pair of cordless headphones for his desktop. I felt bad about not getting him something else, but he’s not interested in having things just to have them, so why waste the money? “How very un-American” I hear you say, but that’s how it is.
Whilst in town last week he stopped at the outdoor bargain table of a local store and was very keen on the USB hubs for sale. Long story short, it cost me $1.90 to buy one for him ( and one for me) , and he was delighted. How wonderful to be happy with such a simple thing. To take it down another few levels, after a particularly warm afternoon at the beach with his friends I offered him the choice between Ice Cream and Lemonade as a way to cool off. He chose the latter, and as I didn’t feel like driving for the 15 minutes it would have took us to go to his favourite spot, we headed to my favourite pub. This is how bad a father I am: I didn’t realise that he doesn’t like carbonated drinks, which is all they had. He was happy, and I mean actually happy with a pint of ice water and a pint glass filled with pretzels. I have a kid who is happy with bread and water. How the fuck do you come to terms with that?
This makes it very hard for me to deny his requests on the rare occasions when he does ask for something. When in the store he will make a hesitant request for either Cheezits or Wheat Thins. I know they aren’t exactly the healthiest things in the world, but he could be eating a lot worse. When I say “Yes’, as I invariably do, he picks up a standard size box, even though the larger ones are right along side. Greed is a concept I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand.
None of this is a complaint, I just have difficulty with the polarity of wanting to fulfill all my kids’ material needs when one of them doesn’t really have any.