ho ho ho, merry shopping!
Natalie, just shy of 13, hands me her Christmas list. Her finalized, twenty times done over Christmas list. She had to redo it so many times because she lives in a dream world where Santa still exists and he's going to bring her a cell phone, a digital camera and laptop.
Natalie, I thought since you stopped believing in Santa your lists would get more realistic.
What's not realistic about it??
I hand her a blank sheet of paper and tell her to start over again. Finally, she comes to me with the list she says is the ultimate, final, realistic list.
First thing I see is the Eminem cd. I take a red Sharpie and cross it off.
Sorry, can't have it.
But what if you get the edited version?
It's not the curses that bother me, it's the context.
What does that mean?
It means that even if he's not saying shitmotherfuckerbastardwhore he's still talking about things that a 13 year old just doesn't need to be singing about. Stick the American Idol songs, ok?
And I know this is hypocritical of me. Among my kids' cd collection are offerings from Metallica and Linkin Park and Faith No More and Puddle of Mudd and a gathering of other bands whose lyrics would make my own mother blush. I can deal with these bands, mixed in with Natalie's American Idol sap and DJ's Les Miz soundtrack. I find Eminem's lyrics too real, too jarring, too good; something that makes sense only to me, I suppose.
So I mark Natalie's list up again, crossing out and correcting spelling and reminding her that money does not grow on trees.
Once more, with feeling. The next day after school she brings me a new, improved list with the items she must must must have because, well - it's what all the other girls have. Remember that in kidspeak, all the other girls could very well mean just one, most likely the popular one.
The list has three things on it:
Kate Spade pocketbook
Natalie goes to do her homework and I start looking these things up on the internet.
Did you know that Kate Spade pocketbooks start at $100.00? I call Natalie into the room.
Please tell me there are not seventh grade girls walking around with Kate Spade pocketbooks.
She rattles off the names of four girls who own such an item. What kind of parent spends $100 on a pocketbook for their 12 or 13 year old? Oh yes, a rich one. I gently remind Natalie that not only are we not rich, we are most likely not even middle class. She pouts, but looks a little embarassed at the revelation of how much this item costs.
Next item, Baby-G watches, something I've never heard of before. Oh, look here. They range anywhere from $70 to $200. I call Natalie back into the room. I show her how much these watches cost.
But it's a watch, mom. It could be my big present. Pleeeeaaase?
I'm going to buy a $100 watch for a girl who has lost almost every piece of jewelry she ever owned?
It's not really jewelry, it's, like...umm...important. I need a watch. I need that watch.
What about the watch I got you last year?
Oh my GOD, mom! You got that from BURGER KING!
I stifle a laugh, she leaves the room in a huff (is there any other way for a teen to leave the room?) and start looking for where to get a pea coat in her size. The phone rings. It's Natalie and DJ's father, wanting to know what to get them for Christmas.
I think for a minute. I know how he loves to play the good guy all the time and buy them expensive presents in lieu of spending any quality time with them (even though he has them every weekend). This irks me to no end and I sometimes chastise him about buying the kids' loyalty. But not this time. I decide to finally stop playing the cards I have against him. I fold.
Natalie wants a Kate Spade pocketbook, a Baby-G watch and a pea coat.
Twenty minutes later he calls back. He got Natalie the watch and the coat. Neither of us will spend the money on the pocketbook.
Oh yes, I know that was probably the wrong thing to do, letting my ex buy her the materialistic, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses items that I wouldn't. And I know she is going to squeal in delight in when she opens them. But the point is, it's a middle ground thing. She gets the coat and the watch from her dad, she gets the Game Boy Advance and telephone for her bedroom that she was dying for from me and Justin, and she forgets all about the Kate Spade pocketbook and the Eminem cd.
Ah yes, there was a point to this post and I've rambled and gone off in a direction that I didn't intend to. That point being - who is so hung up on labels and brand names that they would spend $100 on a pocketbook for their kid or $45 on a t-shirt, yes T-SHIRT, just because it says Abercrombie and Fitch? Maybe I need to be rich to understand those answers.
Oh, and the other thing was, I probably overreacted with the Eminem cd. But much in the same way I will not let DJ, who is barely ten, have Adam Sandler movies on DVD, I will not let Natalie have Eminem cds. It's just a thing. And besides, I'm the mom. I can do what I want.