When the Kiddo went to see Santa early last month he asked for three things. He was given the Astro Boy movie, so check one thing off the list. His cousins gave him a bumblebee toy that walks and talks, close enough to his request for a ‘remote control bumble bee’ that we can check that off the list too. The only thing that left was a “Big Guy” (ie an AT-AT), Santa didn’t bring one and nobody gave him one.
He’s a bright boy though, and not very demanding. He understands that you don’t always get given what you ask for and that sometimes you have to try to make things happen for yourself. The first thing he said when he opened his Christmas cards, the ones that contained money, was “oh boy NOW I can buy my big guy.” Two days after Christmas he very politely asked me if I would drive him to Toys R Us so that he could spend his Christmas money on his toy.
Last weekend we finally took him. He always amazes me with how well he does with shopping. We’ll be in the grocery store and he’ll ask for chips, I’ll tell him that we have to finish getting the things on the list first and then if there’s enough money maybe. We get to the end of the list, and when I’m done adding it all up he will ask if there’s enough… if I say no he says okay and moves on. There’s no whining, complaining or fits.
Spending gift money with him has always been exactly like that. We walked into Toys-R-Us and went strait to the star wars isle. He walked up and down looking trying to find something that would match the mental image of the AT-AT he's been carrying around in his head. He finally found one and practically danced with excitement because it was perfect, the box said it was 2ft tall!! And it looked exactly like the one in the movie.
It was SO perfect, but it was $109 and I explained to him that he didn’t have that much money* I told him to keep looking and that I was sure he’d find something almost as good that he’d like. He sighed, sad, but agreed and kept looking. He finally found a box with the Galactic Heroes version (that’s a ‘new’ kids cartoon of starwars and they have out the same type of action figures and vehicles just in a smaller size and ‘cartoon’ look).
I told him that yes HE could afford that and he grinned, he said “okay mom, we’ll buy this one today and then maybe I’ll get the other one for my birthday to be his friend!”. I told him we’d see and we put it in the cart. Then we walk around the rest of the store and looked at everything else, to make sure he bought what he really wanted. Now and then he’d see something he wanted and ask, and I’d explain that all his money could only buy ONE thing so if he wanted the new toy we’d have to put the AT-AT back on the shelf. He was so funny, he’d jump and say “OH! That’s right, I’m sorry, I’ll put this one back I really want my big guy” and he’d put the new toy back where he got it.
When we got home we pulled it out of the box and he started looking at him. It’s got a side hatch that opens, a couple figures and a speeder bike for them to ride on. The legs are pose able and there’s a button you can press to make laser firing noises for it’s front guns. He loves it so much he asked me to help him make it a house…
We used the pieces of the box it came in to decorate a cardboard box, little bit of glue and some tape and voila his AT-AT has a home. It’s got a handle on the door to help him open it, handles on the top (so he can carry it), an a little rope with a paperclip attached to the back so when he opens the door he can “clip” it to stay open.
* he still talks about the really big one. He says if he gets money for his birthday he’s going to save so he can buy it. It IS a pretty cool looking toy but I can’t decide if letting a (then) six year old spend that much money ($85 on amazon) is a responsible thing to do or not. Understanding that it is his money, we usually put a little in savings, a little into a ‘gifts for others’ bin, and give him a little to spend. I think this teaches him that the gifts he buys for others are from HIM, and that saving is important, and that money doesn’t just appear (note our “not enough for chips grocery store conversations).
What do you think? If (and he probably will) he gets enough cash gifts for his birthday should I let him buy himself something that expensive?
(btw click the picture of the at-at box to take you to the amazon listing if you’re curious)