Sometimes when I make decisions on kid things, I think about the things that I remember most about my parents, and what I thought were important as a kid. When I was 10 the most important thing in the world was a BMX bike. Not just any bike, but the right one, in the right color, with the right wheels, pedals, handlebars, it had to be the right bike. This was more than transportation, more than a status symbol, it was important to me. It’s all I wanted for Christmas. It’s all I wanted. I let them know what bike I wanted and what bike shop to get it at. It wasn’t overly expensive, I didn’t want the one for twice the price because it cost more. I just wanted the mid-range bike that met all of my criteria.
My dad bypassed the bike shop, and found what he thought was a really cool bike at the auto parts store. He talked to the sales guy, who assured him, this was a good bicycle, and kids love them, and my dad decided that this would bring a smile to my face Christmas morning. Now, I had a bike. This wasn’t going from no wheels to new wheels, this was an upgrade. Needless to say, I was mortified Christmas morning at the thing that was parked in front of the tree. It wasn’t at all what I had wanted. There was no way for my dad to have known how far off the mark he was, and I realized that I needed to smile, and be impressed with this thing I really wasn’t happy with, because, well that’s what you do. I don’t think I pulled it off well, but heck I was 10.
My parents also decided that there was no way they were going to allow a game system to be plugged into our TV. I wanted a video game console from the first pong, through the atari, intellivision, and various cheap knock-offs, and they wouldn’t get one. Even when we found a cheap one at a garage sale, there was no game console in our house. This probably wasn’t something they gave an incredible amount of thought to, but I remember it all too well. I’d look at presents on my birthday, sizing up boxes, wondering if there’d be some game thing in there.
Oddly, I have never had a game console. I’ve played computer games, but I never got around to buying any of them. So yesterday I found a reasonably priced Wii on craigslist and bought it from a middle aged, empty nester, college student putting together her life after kids. It came with a couple of games and the Wii fit. The Wii Fit, for anyone who has lived under a rock for the last few years, looks like a short step-stool. You stand on it, and it’s a wireless controller for the system. It works with a fitness program, and you can do exercises, and play games that help you increase your blance, and burn a few more calories than pressing controller buttons with your thumbs. The first think the fit has you do, is put in your age, height, and step up on it. It then proceeds to do a basic assessment of you. One of the first things I was told by my new gaming system, the thing I’ve wanted since I was a little kid, was that I’m obese. And my balance sucks.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere. I’m not sure what it is yet.
I got used to the bike. It served it’s primary function, transportation independence. It was stolen at school. I managed to get the bike I wanted after that, and developed a good sense of paranoia, which let me keep that bike in my possession for many years.
I wonder regularly. What will my kids remember when they’re in their 40’s? What will I do, what have done, right, and wrong? What thing will they go out and buy, just because they always wanted one? Can I make better choices by pondering this as a parent? Do I really want to?