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Friday, November 13, 2009

Driving Miss Shaila

"Mommy, I NEED to watch Sesame Stweep."
"Mommy, I NEED some candy."

"Mommy, I NEED a balloon!"
"Mommy, I NEED to wear my Mickey Mouse shirt."

My two year old daughter, Shaila, is not shy about making sure her "needs" are communicated. A pretty vocal child, with a very expressive face - she says what she wants and while we try not to give her everything, she can be pretty convincing.

But lately, Shaila is getting a little pushy about her "needs."

"Mommy, I need to have some of your coffee."
"No, Shaila. Coffee is for Mommy. And Daddy." (ok - i think this is what I say, but in all honesty - I can't be held responsible for what might come out of my mouth right now PRE-CAFFEINE).
(Though, I will admit. It is usually Daddy who makes it for Mommy. Thank you John!)
"One sip. Just ONE sip!" She holds up her right index finger with emphasis and gets right up in my face. "I NEED it!"
"No, sweetie."
"Ok, ok," re-thinking her strategy. "Mommy. I NEED . . . to just SMELL it," She will counter.

So every day my daughter tries to negotiate the privilege to smell my Maxwell House coffee (we're not too fancy in our house and it's really cheap at Costco).

But Shaila's constant use of the word "need" is something I am trying to work with her on.

"Shaila - you don't really NEED candy. You WANT it."
"Shaila - you don't really NEED to watch Barney. You WANT to." (Yes - that show is still on. And yes, my daughter eats it up like crack).

She looks at me sagely as I try to point out the distinction. "OK, Mommy. OK." she nods her head. I breathe a sigh of relief. Good! She GETS it.

"Mommy." PAUSE. "I NEED some ice cream."


I was talking about it with our nanny, Kim, who has the privilege (oh, ha ha) of being told by Shaila on a constant basis what she "needs." How do you explain to a 2 year old the difference between "Need" and "Want"?

Kim thought about it for second before saying something that was pretty SPOT ON.

"Well, how do you explain to most ADULTS the difference between "need" and "want"? Most adults don't know the difference either."

And I got to thinking, how true.

Kim, you are a WISE, wise woman.

How often do I run into Target because I "need" some new Christmas decorations? Or go to the mall because I "need" some new shirts to wear? What about that coffee that I "need" in the morning (Ok, some would counter that I truly do need that).

I am co-hosting my dear friend Liz's baby shower and over the past few weeks, I have told her all the things she "needs" to register for.

"Oh you NEED at least one bouncy for both floors of your house!"
"Oh, you absolutely NEED to have the vibrating bassinet!"
"Liz, you will NEVER be able to manage without (insert xyz thingamajig from Babies 'R Us here). You definitely NEED that!"

"Really?" asks Liz, sounding skeptical, but looking for some advice from friends.

"Oh, ABSOLUTELY," I pronounce my edict from my throne (which I also NEEDED at some point. On sale at Crate and Barrel). "You definitely NEED that."

"Hmmm. Ok." Liz seems doubtful, but ever trustful. After all, why wouldn't she trust me on this?

Gee - small wonder my daughter keeps saying "need"! How far does the apple fall from the tree?

Ironically - I think back to my own upbringing and the "things" my parents had. Not much. Just thinking about my mothers samosas makes me ashamed. But they managed to overlook the "obvious" need for all these necessities that I now could not imagine life without.

Am I as guilty of blurring the lines between "need" and "want" as much as my daughter?

The answer, my friends (surprise, surprise) is . . . a resounding . . . DRUM ROLL . . .

(I put it in caps, not to be ironic, but to exclaim that YES, I AM SPOILED.)

It makes me wonder when my perspective changed so dramatically - where convenience became a necessity and where the luxury of being able to buy what I wanted became a right versus a privilege.

Sometimes it takes the language of a two year old to show me that in some ways, my perspective is oddly more aligned with hers than I originally thought.

And while I love my daughter and know (ok, I HOPE MADLY) she will grow to be a wise, wise woman - maybe it's time to re-evaluate what I "need" and what I "want" a little bit more closely this year.

I think I NEED to. Don't you?
(Please, be kind).


Jennifer said...

I love this post. I have a hard time telling my daughter the difference between need and want as well and I think you just said exactly what I was thinking about myself.

I buy stuff all the time that I don't really need, like the $60 I spent at portrait innovations yesterday. I thought I did pretty good seeing as how I spent $130 when I go in there but now looking at my checkbook and looking at the fridge and all the food that's NOT in there, I'm thinking maybe I didn't "need" to buy those pictures....but they were so damn cute and years from now we'll be able to look back on them and smile about how cute the kids were. And who really needs to eat anyway, the kids can live on bread and water alone can't they?

Kiran Kairab Ferrandino said...

LOL. Jennifer - $60 is pretty good! Bread and cheese can wait. Actually - the other day I was lamenting all the clutter in the house and asked my husband if he had any ideas on what we could do to organize. He looked at me like I was crazy and said - "Well, first things first - you can probably stop buying things."

Which makes sense, right? I will have to try it.

Jennifer said...

LOL, just another reason why I'm glad I don't have one of those (husbands) at home to tell me to stop buying stuff. Of course it might also help to have one of those around the house so I could afford to buy more stuff.

Kiran Kairab Ferrandino said...

It's a bit of a catch 22, isn't it though Jennifer? If you have a husband, you have someone questioning everything you buy, so you have to sneak the Target bags in through the back door and go to those jewelry parties at your friends house in "stealth" mode.

Not that I have ever done that. I'm just saying.


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