This weekend, I took Enzo to swimming class, afterwards we went to a French bakery and then to the playground in Washington Square Park. That was just on Saturday. On Sunday we had a play date at the New York Hall of Science. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to provide these types of experiences for my child. I certainly didn’t have them growing up. That being said, I did have a pretty awesome childhood that included several trips to Disney World.
My son certainly wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he’s had a pretty good life thus far. He has attended enrichment classes since he was 18 months. He knows he can watch his favorite program instantly, because we have On Demand– I didn’t get cable until college!
Enzo is definitely not going to have the same upbringing I did. My son has his own room, and more toys than he can play with. I grew up in a railroad apartment and shared a room with my little brother. Our apartment was tiny and we always had people over. Despite (or maybe because of) its size, there was always warmth and love in the air.
As a parent, I have two conflicting desires. One is to raise a child and give him bigger and better experiences than I had. Another one flashes, “don’t raise him feeling entitled or taking things for granted.”
I feel I need to strike a balance so that Enzo has everything he needs and doesn’t grow up thinking money grows on trees. (If I got a dollar for every time my parents said that to me!)
Growing up, I remember waiting for Christmas with anticipation, because it was the time of the year when we could ask for the really expensive toy or article of clothing. I still remember the day my father brought home the Nintendo (the original!) with a big red ribbon. It was a big deal – and we knew that.
I hope to instill some of that in Enzo- appreciation and admiration for his parents’ hard work. I don’t want him to grow up assuming he is going to get the latest video game, just because it was released. I don’t want him to think that he’s getting the latest brand-name sneakers because his friends have them.
That being said, I can allow myself to give Enzo fun experiences and perks like cab rides instead of long train rides, because economically, I can afford to do so. The question for me is how can I provide these experiences for my child, yet teach him that these things are not “givens” in life, and that he must be thankful for the things we have?
As a daughter of working-class immigrant parents, I didn’t grow up with brand names, (who remembers Fayva?). I grew up learning that “hay que arroparse hasta donde alcance la cobija” (Basically, only spend what you can afford). Now, I look at myself in my Prada sunglasses, carrying around my Michael Kors bag and know that the balance I want to achieve is easier said than done.
Because he might still be too little, but one day he probably will want the really expensive sneakers, and we will probably be able to buy them for him. The question is, should we?
Diana Limongi-Gabriele works hard juggling a full-time job, motherhood, family, grad school and her blog, LadydeeLG where she writes about issues she is passionate about including teaching her son Spanish, motherhood, parenting, Latino issues, good quality food and women’s issues. Diana is a regular contributor for Mamiverse. She has a MA in Migration Studies, and is pursuing an MPA in Nonprofit Management. Her most important job however, is being mommy to Enzo, a French/Hispanic/American (one day trilingual) 2 year old boy. You can connect with her via Twitter, @dianalimongi or on Facebook.