Monday, May 28, 2018

Brand New World

My almost ten-year old caught a feathery dandelion seed head and asked if it meant anything.  Perhaps it brings luck, I said.  She got quiet for a while then said she had made a wish.  “I hope it comes true but I bet it won’t,” she said with a hint of melancholy.  As she anchors herself into tweendom, I am getting used to these melancholy bents. 

But my mom-dar is still too strong for her.  “You wished you could have Nikes, didn’t you?” I asked.  Her sheepish smile confirmed my suspicions. 

These days it seems name-brand shoes are all this girl has on the brain.  For a while she couldn’t stop talking about Adidas, then Nikes (which the French pronounce to rhyme with “bike”) and the occasional All-Star reference, peppered with a bit of Puma and New Balance.

It’s not that I am totally anti-brands. I love my ballerina style Skechers my mom sent me a few years ago.  But I wanted them for the appearance and comfort.  The fact that they were Skechers just assured me of their quality.  With my daughter this brand envy has come out of nowhere and seems to be directly related to what she sees in the school yard.

“Will you get me Adidas for my birthday?” is a common refrain around here.  Followed by “I bet you won’t.” 
She cut out her own symbol

“Wow, how lucky that girl is, look at her Nikes!”  she’ll exclaim as we see a teen in the parking lot with pale pink on pink Nikes.  She can spot brand name shoes on people on tv, too. 
I have literally had to limit her to one shoe reference per day!  But before that I tried a few other strategies which proved to be pretty fruitless.  Let’s recap anyway:

Taking a page from my own mom’s book, I told her about kids who had no shoes or shoes in pitiful condition.  I even took to finding her videos on youtube by typing (what else!) “kids with no shoes”.  Just my luck, one of the videos I pulled up showed poor Mexican children, one of whom was wearing a Nike shirt, which my girl was quick to point out.  Anyway, it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on her.  Though now if she goes on about shoes and I ask her if she wants to watch a video, it tends to calm her down a bit.

Non-conformity talk
Of course I tried the old “why do you have to do what everyone else is doing?” talk.  Just because other kids wear something doesn’t mean it’s the best quality or even attractive, I tried to reason with her.  For this point I showed her the saggy jeans fashion that exposes men’s underwear.  She had a laugh at those pics and agreed that particular fashion was stupid, but the shoe talk continued!

Mom stories
I read recently that kids get a lot out of their parents’ personal stories.  Or maybe not.  I told her how I was into Esprit clothes when I was in middle school but how I generally only got a shirt from the bargain bin, because that’s all we could afford.  I can still remember a shirt full of bright geometric shapes that screamed 80s.  I mostly bought it for that little red rectangle proclaiming Esprit.  Frankly it was loud and ugly, when I look back.  I told her in the end I realized I was following the crowd and that having your own style is important. 

When your kid asks you over and over for Adidas in a five-minute period, using a tactic she got from a ten-year old on tv, you just try to think of something else and soldier on.  It messes with your mind, but this is good preparation for adolescence whining. When she says she’s so unlucky for not having Nikes, I tell her she will survive.

Hard work
I always told myself once my kid started asking for brands that I would give him or her a limited budget for school clothes shopping and tell them, that’s it, make it work.  But we’re not quite there yet.  In the meantime I try to remind her of the value of her money by getting her to buy trinkets she wants at the store from her own piggy bank money.  She recently got herself off-brand aqua All-star low tops at the discount store and has been taking super care of them. My husband and I tell her she could get a job later on as a teen or earn money for chores and use this to buy what she wants. 

You might be asking me why I just don’t buy her the shoes she wants.  One little pair, what’s the big deal? We just don’t want her turning into a pretentious, name-dropper already.  Or thinking that she gets whatever she asks for immediately.  She’s barely out of fourth grade!  We hope she will value what she has. 

So in the end, my strategy is a modified “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” one.  She may get what she wants but not right away- a little delayed gratification.  Don’t tell her this, but she will very likely get some shoes for her birthday… but we’ll buy large so they can last a while and she’ll hopefully take good care of them. 

Are your kids into brands?  What strategies do you use?


Jenenz said...

I remember those days! They do realize the truth and wisdom when they grow up into young adults. We taught E the lesson of working to earn the luxury items. She saved up all her bday and allowance to buy herself a mini iPod. When she bought it with her own money, she cherished and took care of that iPod. It taught her the value of hard work and appreciation for the nice things in life. Don't take things for granted. Keep teaching her the stories and lessons! You are wise, Obi Wan Kenobi.

Lindle said...

Ahhhh! I remember those days and those arguments. You were very resourceful, however, and could find something to satisfy you from the "On Sale" rack, though it wasn't a lot. What I read as I struggled to deal with your demands, was that--if you can--allow ONE item to make them feel less out of the loop. Just ONE. Often that can ease the feelings. But that cannot be the springboard to more demands. She has to know that was the end of the line.

Or, go the guilt route and show her images of kids who don't have barely a mat to sleep on. Tell her she's lucky to have feet that work! Good luck!