Ma, pwede mo po akong ibili ng cell phone? (Ma, can you please buy me a cell phone?)
I was actually expecting her to ask me this question anytime soon, because I'm seeing more and more kids with their gadgets like these cute cell phones tied around their necks. Sometimes I get confused if they're real or just toys--they get smaller by the day!
Anyway, I simply asked her back:
"Could you give me 10 reasons why I should give you a cell phone?"
Her response didn't really surprise me much. She just lost the puppy-eyes stare with the grin in her lips, and sighed before dropping back to her seat. I feel she was devastated. I could hear her talking to herself "Ten reasons...hmmmm..." Then a very long pause. She stood up again, and faced me once more.
"Yup. Ten. I need you to tell me 10 reasons why you NEED a cell phone. I said NEED, ha, Ate? Once you come up with the 10, and they're all valid, then I'll consider giving you a cell phone. Clear?"
"Yes, Ma... Clear po."
As of now, she hasn't given me any valid reasons yet. (Unless you'll consider "Some of my classmates have their own cell phones now...") Although at times, she still tries to insist that she needs one because she says she misses me so much that she couldn't wait for me to call her up. She wants to be the one to call me up. (My heart almost broke when she said this, honestly.) But no matter how much I'd really want to give in to this request, I still try to explain to her that she still does NOT need a cellphone because every one else at home already has one. And that I still could not afford to give her one because it's NOT in our budget. End of discussion.
I just feel so proud of her when she responds, "Okay, Ma. Naiintindihan ko po... Pag laki ko na lang po." (Okay, Ma. I understand. Perhaps when I'm grown up...).
I know as a parent that I'm supposed to give all the best to my kids, and have them experience the best things that life has got to offer... But I think it's actually more disturbing if we don't let them experience these "times of scarcity/deprivation" because they'll never learn to appreciate what they have, unless you create the anticipation in them. This would also help them distinguish their requests from being a need or just simply a want.
I believe it's important to teach them not just the value of money, but also the fact that, like money, we need to be able to work to get paid, or gain something. Again, I told her the importance of delaying one's gratification by means of saving for something you want. So I encouraged her: If she wants to have her own cellphone, she must save up for it so she could buy it.
Unfortunately, though, I think that cell phone will have to wait for some more time because she's still saving up for her own bicycle...
"Make the regular feel special!"
This was what the seminar facilitator responded when during the open forum part of the seminar I asked, "What is the best way to explain to my regular 6-year-old daughter the special condition of her sister without making her feel un-special, because she would always ask me--Mama, do you love ME?"
It actually made sense when he further added, "go out and do some bonding activities na kayong dalawa lang, like watch a movie, or eat somewhere she really loves-- of course, without staying out of your budget."
He said I should watch out, though, not to give the invitation to take her out after having an argument regarding her younger sibling; otherwise, she'll think of the invitation as a bribe to be nice to her sister. The invitation must come "randomly," that it seemed to have been just a spur-of-the-moment kind of invitation that I just really wanted to go out and take her with me.
--And so that's what I did soon as I fetched her from school. After attending the said parenting seminar, I invited her out to the mall and asked her if she would be interested to watch a movie. Of course, she said yes, she couldn't make up her mind between Harry Potter6 and Transformers2, until we finally chose Harry Potter, because the other film was not for kids below 13.
Indeed, we had a great time while watching the movie. The only thing that bothered her was that she was so light and thin that her seat would fold up when she sat on the cinema chair. ...we actually both laughed hard when she almost fell; but I assuringly told her I'll just extend my leg to keep the seat from folding up so she could watch comfortably.
Laughing with her that time was a great moment for us both. Seeing her being able to laugh at herself without feeling ashamed or embarrassed made me feel proud of her. And there I saw that she wasn't really angry at her sister when she complained that I always favored Jamie over her, I felt that she was just looking for some attention that's really meant for her.
After watching the movie, we passed by the mall studio and took a pic, showing off our necklaces which I made especially for us both. Then bought something before going home. I was so touched when she insisted that we buy something, a pasalubong, for her sister Jamie. More so, I was surprised when during our walk to the terminal, she said,
"Ma, I really enjoyed what we did today. I'm sorry I've been bad at times, especially when I'm fighting with Jamie. I promise I won't fight with her again because I know you love me, too."
I almost cried when she said that. I can't thank God enough for hearing those words... my heart is all-praises and songs that time until we got to bed that night.
For sure, that won't be the last time we're going out to have our special bonding session...
I'm actually saving up for our next trip -- to the spa :)
I bluntly told her, "Yes, but not until your 10th birthday."
"Why?" She curiously asked, and even started counting on her fingers, "...7...8...9...10," then gave me that puzzled look.
"Most likely by that time, you're going to understand how to take care of your pet. And by that time, you'll be more responsible in feeding it and cleaning it all by yourself. You see, it's like having your own baby. You have seen me take care of Ading Mica, right?"
"You have seen me feed her whenever she's hungry and bathe her every day, don't you?"
"And clean up her mess, whenever she spills her food on the table and soil her clothes?"
"Those are just some of the stuff you need to learn to do on your own to become a responsible pet-owner."
"Ummm... okay. "
Since then, I never heard her insist on having a pet again. Instead, she would always remind me that she will finally get her pet on her 10th birthday.
Sometimes, she tries to negotiate ("How about when I turn 9, Ma?"), but I stood firmly with my previous statement. There was an article I read online regarding when is the right time to get your child a pet from babycenter, and I'm glad I did.
Setting: Inside the Department Store
Situation: Ate Aya insists she wants Mama Chee to buy the dress she saw within the store
(Everything's translated to English for easier reading)
Ate Aya: Ma, could we buy this dress? It's such a pretty dress, isn't it?
Mama Chee: Yes, ate, it's very pretty, but no, I'm sorry we can't buy that right now.
Ate Aya: Why not?
Mama Chee: (Pause) Okay. You choose. We could buy this dress right now, but we will have to go straight home right after.
Ate Aya: But I thought we're going to the grocery from here to buy food?
Mama Chee: How could we go to the grocery if we've already spent the money to get you this dress?
(Very long silence)
Ate Aya: Okay, Ma, let's just go to the grocery now. But... when you have extra money, could we go and buy that dress?
Mama Chee: Yes, ate, we could go back and buy you that dress, once mama has extra money. And if you continue to save the money I give you, we could even buy you shoes that would match that dress! What do you think?
Ate Aya: That’s super! Yes, ma, I’ll do just that. I won’t buy anymore Stick-O’s so we could buy my shoes for the dress!
Mama Chee: Now, that’s great! I’m so proud of you, Ate Aya.
Ate Aya: Thanks, ma. ‘love you Mama!
Mama Chee: I love you, too, Ate Aya.
Aya and I always have this type of conversation, not only when we go to the mall, but even when we're just home, or when she comes with me to the office. She would often see some things that she urges me to buy, then I would tell her that we’re only buying what we really need, and that those things are not necessary, and we could buy them only when we have excess money for them.
I think I’ve done a good job so far, as I would often hear Aya ask me this question:
"Ma, when we have extra money, could we get this item, please?"
I actually appreciate my friends and colleagues complimenting me when they hear Aya speaking and asking me that way, because they would often remark how their child would insist on buying the toys and other stuff that aren’t very important, and even throw tantrums in the mall.
I’m very thankful Aya is learning the value of knowing the difference between the needs and the wants and prioritizing one over the other. Another thing I’m really glad Aya is absorbing is the attitude of delaying one's gratification. This concept is one of the important things I have learned from all the marketing gurus I’ve listened to. It teaches us to temporarily let go of an item that we badly want, save up the money we’re supposed to spend on that item, and once we believe that we’ve saved more than enough, we could finally go back to that item we’re dying to buy, and finally buy it! It’s us not saying, “No, we can't buy it.” It’s us merely saying, “Huwag muna ngayon.”
I hope you learned a thing or two from it. God bless!
mommy chee: hmm. you're asking a tough question, dear. (long pause) let me put it this way. before mommies can have babies, first, mommy should get married with daddy before Papa Jesus sends them a baby.
aya: how about you? how come you and papap weren't married, but Papa Jesus sent you babies?
mommy chee: ate aya, it was mommy chee's mistake of asking Papa Jesus for babies before getting married because i thought it was okay. but now that i know better, the next time i ask for a baby from Papa Jesus, i know what to do. so mommy chee must get married first before we ask for a baby brother. do you understand?
aya: yes, ma.
mommy chee: you keep that in mind, okay? mommy made a mistake, so when you grow up and decide that you want to become a mommy too, what should you do first?
aya: i should get married first.
mommy chee: very good. but before you get married, what must you do first?
aya: finish my studies, build my own store, and buy the things that i want!** (said with much gusto)
mommy chee: very good, ate aya.
i won't forget this question from aya where i was really caught offguard especially when she asked "how about you? how come you and papap weren't married, but Papa Jesus sent you babies?" i knew that i was not talking to an ordinary child, and so i decided to give her a straightforward answer she would learn something from, rather than beat around the bush. hence, admitting to the mistake that i have done. i also wanted to make sure that i gave the emphasis that i was the one who made the mistake, and i was sorry, that i will do the right thing next time; and not give her the idea that they were the mistake.
i'm so proud of my daughter. i just feel sorry that sometimes, she would tell me how she wished we had a "father" in the family to complete the picture. ...but she makes me even more proud when she tells me that she has the best family in the world.
single parenting is not easy, but i'm really glad i'm surrounded by angels who help me through, and i always tell aya to count the blessings God is giving us and be thankful for them, instead of counting the things that we did not have, and pray for the people who are not with us.
**i don't really intend for my daughter to be materialistic when she said her last statement, but at her young age, based on my experience with her whenever we were together at the mall, there were a lot of things that she wanted to buy, and very often, i said no. i said "No" not because i didn't want her to have that item, but because we couldn't afford it right now. i was trying to stress to her the importance of prioritizing, that we should buy the necessities (needs) first, and then the wants should be bought, only if we have excess/extra money to buy them.
i also shared with her my stories of how i enjoyed buying stuff for myself when i started to work after school, and i saw that she was inspired by them. i hope she will picture herself doing the same thing--enjoying her single life as an adult--and one way is being independent and able to buy what she needs and wants, and even being able to share them to people.
i'm confident that with God's guidance, aya, and also jamie, will both grow up the way every mother wants their daughters to be. God-fearing, responsible, and loving.
I'm Mommy Chee, and welcome to my blog, "Aya Asks." I named it so because I'm starting to get amazed (and often times amused) with the questions my 6-year-old daughter Aya has been asking me these past few weeks, and I feel it would be very nice to share them together with my answers as well.
Please feel free to comment on my responses, as it honestly feels like an impromptu speech exam way back from my senior year in high school whenever she stops to ask me something!