So today I’m going to write about two incidents that happened within the past two weeks.
Peer pressure has hit the critters, guys. And it has hit hard.
One of the things we did when we were in Malacca the weekend before was do the usual touristy Jonker Walk jaunt. We happened to pass by a stall selling cheap plastic watches for children. Fighter loves all gadgets and things with buttons and immediately set his sights on a bright blue rickety looking wrist watch.
I didn’t want to buy it for him because the thing looked like it would just die the next day and we’d be left with more trash on our hands. Besides he and Penny already had a bunch of these broken kids watches lying around at home.
Mummy Ooi promised she would go back to KL and find a less flimsy watch for him and he reluctantly agreed. I still wasn’t too keen cos I’ve seriously never seen any kid’s watch last beyond two weeks but who am I to deny a grandma’s love?
So the next day we came home from Malacca and it was a Sunday. It was evening and I was washing Penny up for bed, and Fatty came up to me and told me that Fighter was refusing to go to school unless he had a new watch.
I think my blood pressure doubled then. My heart pounded cos I was so mad hearing that! I went to talk to Fighter and found out that he’d started off by telling Daddy, “Daddy you know, in school I’m very bored. If I had my watch I could look at it and not be bored.” Which then escalated to “I don’t want to go unless I have a watch.”
My worst fear had come true. I had an entitled child.
Entitlement is one of the negative traits associated with millenials (and I’m considered a millenial myself wtf). I do encounter it occasionally, and it drives me crazy. I realize that our lifestyle is pretty privileged so I thought I’ve been pretty aware that I don’t raise children who feel they’re entitled to special privileges or opportunities for no reason. Not aware enough apparently.
I was so angry I wanted to scold him there and then. But I wanted to handle it right so he would understand. So I took hold of his hands and asked him, why do you want a watch so much? (because I like it) Do any of your friends wear watches to school? (yes, A does) You want one cos A has one? (yes…)
I continued to ask, does Chase have a watch? Does YS (his other best friend)? Does SY (his ‘girlfriend’)? None of them have watches.
I tried on a gentle but hopefully firm tone. “Fighter, you know what my job is as your mommy? It’s to feed and clothe you and send you to school. And to love you and take care of you. That’s all. My job is not to buy you presents whenever you feel like it. Grandma promised you a watch but now I think I’m going to ask her not to get it for you. Because you cannot think that every time you want something, we have to get it for you.”
He’s sobbing at this point.
“Do you understand what I’m saying?”
He nods but honestly I’m not sure he entirely does.
So I told him, “If I buy a present for you every time you want it you’re not going to appreciate it. So I’m telling Grandma not to buy you a watch. If you still want it, you have two options. One, you get all correct for your next three spelling tests (they have a weekly spelling test either in Malay, English or Chinese) and I’ll buy you a watch. Two, you can save up your allowance and buy the watch yourself. Which one do you want to do?”
Sniffling, he said he wanted to do the spelling option.
So that’s where we’re at now. Fighter has gotten the two tests after that all correct. Peer pressure – wanting something that his friend has, and wanting to show if off I suspect – started it but entitlement escalated it. What I did is probably not enough – it will take years of teaching – but I hope it’s at least a step in the right direction. T3T
The next incident occurred with Penny.
We were having dinner at a Korean restaurant one day, and a Blackpink song came on. The critters love Blackpink, and Penny says her favorite is Rose.
Penny grabbed my arm and breathlessly said, “Mommy, my favorite is Rose!”
“I know, you told me,” I said, smiling. “But why is Rose your favorite?”
“Because she’s so skinny.”
My eyes wanted to pop out lo wtf. “Baby! Skinny doesn’t mean nice or pretty! You’re not skinny.”
“No I fat.”
OMG. “No Penny you’re perfect! I don’t want you to be skinny ok? I want you to be like this. This Penny now. Don’t think of losing weight or wanting to be skinny ok? You don’t have to be skinny to be pretty. Everyone looks different but doesn’t mean skinny only is pretty.”
She nodded and went on with her usual four year old antics but I was pretty disturbed. She’s only four and she’s somehow absorbed that society views thin as beautiful and that being skinny could be something to aspire to. The world has caught up with my children and is pushing onto them values that I don’t agree with. This is something I will have to watch for and guide them accordingly.
And they say the baby age is hard. This – mental and emotional growth and wellbeing – is so much harder!