Just weeks ago, Aya asked me:
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...