In this made-to-order world, where you can have everything from your favorite book to a holiday ham delivered to your house in minutes, how do you avoid becoming a made-to-order mom?
“No Daddy, I don’t want cereaaaaaal!”
It was 6:50am, and I could already hear the loud voices from our front curb. I’d just finished my morning run, said goodbye to the soft pink sky and braced myself as I reentered our house.
I knew the breakfast wars had already begun.
Noooo, I want oatmeal! With syrup and peanut butter. Please, Daddy?
I want toast. With butter. No, with jelly. The grape jelly not the strawberry.
All of the options.
The kids knew every one.
And for the next 20 minutes, we did our best. We explained to them that we don’t live in a restaurant. So, we don’t get to choose what we eat for breakfast everyday. Today, there is only one option. Cereal. The end.
Eventually, the young tyrants accepted their reality. And, as I threw 2 brightly-colored plastic bowls onto the counter, and let a handful of Honey Nut Cheerios fall into each one, I grunted to my husband under my breath, “When I was a kid, breakfast was simple. Cereal and milk. That was it, and I loved it.”
And, it’s true.
When I was a kid, there were no options.
Oh wait, there was one option. Eat breakfast or don’t.
If we were out of milk, we’d eat dry cereal. Then, later my mom would actually have to get kids in car seats in the car and DRIVE TO THE STORE. Today, with a few keyboard strokes, we can have milk (a different variety for each family member, of course), and any other groceries we want, delivered within the hour.
So many options. Our kids are drowning in them.
When I was a kid, when the TV was turned on, I watched it. And that was it. We had one channel we were allowed to watch, and we SAT THROUGH COMMERCIALS, and in fact, we did it with delight. Today, the fight begins, even before I turn the TV on. “We’re going to watch Sesame Street,” I tell them. The preschooler whines that Mr. Peabody is on Netflix, and the toddler wants Bubble Guppies on Amazon Prime. Wait, the preschooler now screams, I want to watch The Lorax! Grab another remote because that’s on the Apple TV. No, we should watch Polar Express, says the toddler. That’s still on the Apple TV, but another profile. Wait Mom, can we watch Sesame Street? “Yes guys, we’re watching Sesame Street because what’s what I already said we’re watching. Because we’re picking one thing, and that’s it.” I cue up the DVR, and after about 8 minutes, I hear a familiar chorus from the living room before I’ve even had a chance to start the breakfast dishes. Mooooooommy, it’s on commercials! (Oh, the horror.)
When I was a kid, when we wanted to go somewhere, we just got in the car and drove there. My mom had a few cassette tapes with kid music and her favorite Whitney Houston songs that we listened to, over and over. That was it. Sure, we probably asked her to rewind certain songs we liked to hear again, but that was all the maintenance we required. Now, it’s, I want to listen to the Diamond song! (Yes, Rihanna. I know.) That’s on my iTunes, which connects to my car through a USB cable I plug into my iPhone. No Mom, the Husband song! (Dear Future Husband by Meghan Trainor. Don’t judge LOL.) Mom, can we listen to Our God is Powerful? That’s on a CD in the player. “No guys, I just want to listen to my country music today. We’ll listen to whatever’s on the radio, and we’ll be happy with it.” But Mom, in Sam’s mommy’s car, we get to watch mooooovies! Mom, we need a new car so we can watch movies.
And then, my inner monologue says, Oh good, more choices. Yes, let’s do that. (Like, never.)
The fact is, we’re living in an instant world.
When we need something, we get it.
You’re at the pool and want to read your favorite book? Order it, and you’ll be reading it on your tablet in a few seconds. You don’t have to go to the book store, or heaven forbid, the library.
You’re on vacation and forgot something? Order it, and it will be delivered to your hotel room door tomorrow. There’s no need to waste valuable vacation time, trekking to every store on the island.
You want to buy an Elmo trike for your kid for Christmas? For goodness’ sake, don’t spend hours going to 4 different stores, only to find it’s out-of-stock. Hop on Amazon Prime, and it’ll be here by Friday.
The fact is, we’re raising children in a made-to-order culture.
A culture of if-I-want-it-I-get-it.
There’s no waiting. There’s no shopping. There’s no doing without.
It’s what I want. Right now.
So the next time you cue up a kid’s show and think technology is making your life easier, think again. Because you might find yourself trying to reason with a 2-year-old about why we’ll be watching Bubble Guppies, instead of The Lorax, while Mommy does her computer work.
And you may start to wonder if technology has really simplified your life.
Or just made it more complicated.
(And with that, I’ve got to go. The music has started. It’s time to cue up another episode.)
How do you avoid raising made-to-order kids? Share your tips in the comments!