Needs and wants frequently get confused. I need a television. No you don’t, you want a television. A television is a luxury even if it is a ubiquitous one. I need new trainers despite the fact the old ones are still perfectly useable. That is a want not a need. You need new trainers when your old ones are worn out. Problem is where do you draw the line on wants and needs?
Children have no clue where to draw the line. Mine don’t.
They need sweets. They need a Nintendo. They need the latest trainers. No they don’t they want them. I try to correct them: “You want it,” I say, “You don’t need it.” I get looked at blankly and I realise that we talk totally different languages.
They have more toys and general stuff than you can imagine or least more than I ever imagined when I was their age and I swear I start sounding old even to myself when I voice those thoughts.
But whose fault is it? Mine.
I am not strong enough to say no, not organised enough to co-ordinate grandparents and godparents and friends and other relations at Birthdays and Christmas so that my boys get things they really need and sometimes even want.
And then I take a closer look at myself. I give into my wants far more than I realised. It has got so bad I didn’t really notice. Me wanting becomes me needing. No wonder my boys looked at me blankly.
The most commonplace want and need confusion happens when I am doing the weekly shopping. It’s OK if I plan my weekly meals in advance, which I was want to do, but now it is almost as if I see something I must have it. I disguise this from myself as a “treat” but how can something be a treat if I buy it week in and week out and in fact on the days in between as well? The boys get crisps virtually every day and almost always get a sweet or something from the shops when I do as well. We don’t need the stuff and it becomes commonplace after a while so the whole “treat” thing loses its savour. And it’s not just food…
Clothes, shoes, bits and pieces for the house, books, CDs, DVDs, it all adds up to a frightening amount over the year.
So how on earth do I start to explain that we need to stop? That the needs and wants malaise is far more widespread than I originally thought?
I almost wish that rationing was still available. I would appreciate my needs more and it would focus me on my wants. Saving up for something would give it that extra specialness that I know I have forgotten and that my children do not even know.