Back to School Buying Splurge

July 31, 2006 at 3:02 pm (Parenting)

Wednesday my son goes back to school. This, in itself, is cause for celebration. Part of me loved summertime, getting to sleep in (a little) going to the free summer movies, stuff like that. But I am definitely ready for school to start.

We did our school supply shopping last week, including a new backpack.  It occured to me, as we were looking at the wall-of-backpacks at Target, that this is a splurge I never had. Noah doesn’t need a backpack. He has a perfectly good orange backpack from last year with it’s own insulated lunchbox and water bottle. It’s in great shape (really, how much wear and tear does a kindergarten inflict) and perfectly usable. But for me, it’s more about faking creating some sort of back-to-school excitement for him. So I waste $15 on a new backpack, and $12 on a new Batman lunch bag. I draw the line at the $12 Superman thermos thingy.

We didn’t get new backpacks each school year. It was an expense deemed to frivolous to waste money on. Sure, we could buy one with our own saved up money if we wanted to but I usually chose not too (my purse/bag addiction began much later in life). Money was tight and my parents were very careful with the spending.

So do I do it because I didn’t get to or because he really wants it? I’m not sure. I think my husband and I have done a pretty good job of balancing the money thing with the kids. I like being able to buy them surprises every once in awhile, just because (small stuff, like a Transformer) but I don’t want them to expect it. Of course they still ask.

Last week we were actually at the mall (really, I only go to the mall about 3 times a year – better for the budget). I had promised them we would make our first-ever trip to Build-A-Bear this summer. After dropping $60 on a dog named Patch dressed in a Batman outfit and a koala bear named Superman dressed in firefighter gear (my daughters) they still wanted to go in the Disney store. Since we don’t get there often I wanted to oblige but dreaded the inevitable "Can we get this?" whine (coupled with the clasped hands, pleading eyes and the "puuuuhhhhleeeeeasssse"). So we stood outside the store and I said in my firm mommy voice. "We will go in, but the moment I hear ‘can I have’ or ‘will you buy’ we are LEAVING. You are allowed to say ‘This is really cool. Can I put it on my birthday list?’ but THAT IS IT!"

And guess what? It worked. Of course my 3yr old wanted to add about 30 different items to her birthday list but not once did one of them utter the dreaded words. Ah! I’m going to have to remember this one!



  1. Kelley said,

    You are such an awesome mommy! It’s so infuriating when you’ve just done something really special and they STILL ask for more. I love your approach, though — I’m going to have to remember it too. I’m always telling my kids to put things on their birthday or Christmas lists (whichever is coming up next). But I seem to have to remind them every stinkin’ time they pick something up in the store. ONE warning before entry is permitted sounds like a better plan to me!

  2. Antique Mommy said,

    I’m in the same boat. Often I think I buy him stuff in reaction to my own childhood. Not really all that healthy, but as an older mother who has accumulated a bit of spending money, isn’t it my perrogative??

    What a great idea about saying “Isn’t that cool?” and “How ’bout this for my birthday list?” Very good.

  3. Shannon in Surprise, Arizona said,

    Yes, I am the same way when it comes to stuff for my kids. I personally think it is because I never had it as a kid. I don’t even think I had a backpack. I think I had a very tired arm that God supplied me with. BUT, we NEVER had the amount of books or homework kids seem to bring home nowadays. My son is 3 and starts school in 2008. My daughter is 21 months and so I have no back to school shopping, but I am sure I will be all thrilled to get organized and have more of a reason to shop. As for build a bear, I went in there a few weeks back to buy a gift card and my daughter literally had a pre-toddler heart attack. I thought life as she knew it ended and a new life had begun in her. I of course quickly made my gift card purchase and left that store. I will begin now to prepare myself for the day she makes that a stomping ground. The Disney Store…wow brave kootos….LOL

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