To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to let my daughter buy it herself.

My 15-year-old daughter and I are at one of our favorite thrift stores. It is 25 miles away, open on Sundays and at each visit we spend a minimum of one hour perusing the always-eclectic merchandise. We’d been there about 10 minutes when she appears to me, holding up a muted lime green ski jacket and sporting a hopeful grin on her face.

I mentally note that the jacket is clean, about her size and says Gortex at the bottom hem. These are all good indicators. But in my mind, I can see the nearly-new Columbia ski parka I bought for her (for $15) two years ago.

She says, “Its $30. It’s a Marker!” Unfortunately, the significance of the latter eludes me.

“Can you explain to me why you need another winter coat?” I ask, giving her the opportunity to convince me.

Then, from two racks over, I hear, “Because I am a teenage girl and I want everything.”

I look to see a smiling shopper, about my age and apparently a mother herself. I offer her a mouth-only smile in return, then look back to the green coat for my daughter’s response.

“Aaah, because I want one?”

I sweetly ask, “Why should I buy you a coat that you don’t really need?”

Again, I hear the voice, “Because you’re the mom and that’s your job.”

I look over at her again. This time I add an audible sigh to the smile.

My daughter and I look over the coat. Clearly, it is a quality item and in good shape. She tries it on. It looks short in the waist but the sleeves are perfect. Still, I can’t bring myself to make this flamingly frivolous purchase. I tell her if she wants this coat, she will have to buy it herself. She is a bit disappointed but knows me well enough not to be surprised. She goes off to wander the store and think about this purchase.

Meanwhile, I slip between the racks to amiably address my “mother’s helper.” I attempt to explain to her my theory of not buying my children stuff just because they want it – even if the price is negligible. She is good enough to support my theory, then goes on to rave about how great this store is. To this point there is no disagreement and we end on a friendly note.

I continue to meander the store. I find two matching coffee cups that are the exact colors of my sister’s kitchen; no chips; seventy-five cents each. I take those. I turn down the aisle and see my daughter talking on her cell phone. I learn that she has called her father, who is also a skier, to counsel her on this purchase. He reminds her to check the features she needs to be comfortable on the slopes and nothing more.

In the end, we go home with only the two coffee cups. My daughter is at peace as we leave the store.  This experience has given me two gifts. One is witnessing my daughter deliberate the decision of materialism versus true value for herself. The other is my fellow shopper, for giving me the opportunity to clarify my own values.

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3 Responses to “To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question”

  1. Coffee cup sister Says:

    I didn’t think I really needed those big coffee cups, but now that I have them, I can sit at the computer and read this blog without having to get up and get a second cup. AND they do match my kitchen perfectly. 🙂 Keep up the good writing auntjeansbarrel.

  2. auntjeansbarrel Says:

    I’m glad you are enjoying them. Guess the price is out of the bag now, but I’m sure you knew anyway.

  3. Skippy Says:

    I’m an adult woman and I want everything too!

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