I just purchased my daughter her first pair of pink dress up shoes. They were supposed to be saved as a reward for going potty (she’s only 2 years old)…but the moment she saw them she wanted those suckers on her feet. I tried telling her the concept of our new potty reward system, but she either didn’t get it or didn’t care, because she cried for over 40 minutes for those darned plastic, ill-fitting shoes. I attempted the old Bate n Switch, offering up M&Ms, then a movie, but both were a no go. In my busy evening of dinner-making and back-pack-packing, I finally could take the sobs coming from the bathroom where my little girly girl sat on her froggy potty no longer, and gave in. (I know, I know…I broke rule #1 of good parenting, “Don’t give in”…but Rule #2 is “Ya gotta pick your battles,” as all of you parents are aware.)
The thing is, my daughter is still in “instant gratification” mode. Some kids never do get out of that phase, but I can only keep trying to instill in my children a knowledge of the old saying, “Good things come to those who wait.” My dear ol’ hubby just told me about an article he read on this very subject. Psychologists brought children into a room, put a cookie down on the table, and told them not to eat it. The adult in the testing area said she would be back in a bit, and if they waited and did not eat the cookie, they could have two cookies. As you can imagine, most of the test group ended up breaking down and eating the cookie. The company conducting the test followed this group of kids up through college, and found that those who were able to wait and delay their gratification did much better in life and school activities.
Based on that study, my mother should have been a multi-bazillionaire. Talk about waiting for good things to come! She was definitely a save-for-a-rainy-day kind of gal. I have recently had the task of cleaning out her apartment full of 50 years of memories. While dementia takes over her brain and she believes she is living with her parents and giving piano lessons and working in her father’s grocery store, I’m donating most of her precious belongings (not because I want to, but because we have no space to host 50 years worth of her things). One treasure I’ve come across, among all her others, is her pair of pink stilletos. She purchased these in 1959. And never wore them. They remained in the box, the bill of sale on top, destined to never be seen by the public.
Mom always took exemplary care of all she owned, whether it be her stemware or a hand towel. She grew up in the post-depression era, when families were still recovering from being in terrible financial crisis, and where every item was used, re-purposed, and cherished. Luxuries were either non-existent or saved for special occasions.
Her life in that time period must have been so focused on saving that she still did so in most of her daily living decades later. So while the frivolous side of her talked her into buying those darling pink shoes, the practical side made her keep them tucked away to be used only for the ultimate special occasion…which never came.
And this is wear my mother and my daughter differ in their view of delayed gratification. Between the two ways of living, I will side with my daughter. Do not be so consumed with saving everything precious for a rainy day that you never get to enjoy your most adored belongings. Use the good china every once in awhile, just for kicks. Wear the cashmere sweater that cost you two week’s worth of lunches to the office one day. Let your oldest daughter borrow your diamond earrings for a night out with the family. No material possession should be placed so high on a pedestal that you can’t easily get it down. After all, they are just “things.” Make memories with them. They may be the memories you re-live over and over again when your life is nearing it’s end.