It's a simple enough phrase isn't it, but today it filled me with sadness and anger when my eight year old uttered those words. And might I add, not for the first time either. In fact he and his brother say it a lot.
I never intended for my children to be spoilt. I wasn't spoilt as a child. Christmas and birthdays were amazing as my mum always made a fuss and bought me lots of presents, but the rest of the time, gifts were rare. In hindsight, that was a really good thing. It made me grow up with respect for things as once broken, they would not be replaced and it made me grateful. I look at my own children and I don't see the greatest amount of either respect or gratitude.
My eldest son was spoilt. Having split parents and then later two separate families, he has always had more than his fair share. Added to the over zealous spoiling that I think naturally happens after a split anyway due to guilt and feeling that extra need to show how much you love them, he always had too much. So much so, it was very difficult taking him shopping as the scene he would cause if you refused to buy him anything was horrendous. My husband often recalls a trip to Cornwall where he was particularly challenging and he had a fit over some little bear in a gift shop; disguised as a different animal. He wailed, screamed, lay on the floor and had to finally be dragged kicking and screaming from the shop wailing; "Bears in disguise!" It sounds funny now, but trust me, at the time I could not see the funny side at all.
So when R came along, I was determined not to make the same mistake. To be fair, R and his younger brother and sister are pretty good when you go shopping. More often than not, we say no, unless it is a special trip somewhere. I have also put ten pounds a month in their money boxes along with birthday and Christmas money since they were old enough to understand the concept of money, so now if we do go somewhere, they take their own money and then don't have to ask us.
When it comes to respect, generally everywhere else, they are brilliant. They are kids, so there is always some sort of mess involved, but I have brought them up to respect other people's houses and things and they do. Fortunately, they are far happier kicking a ball in the garden than emptying the contents of people's cupboards and I am often very proud of them when we go anywhere.
So what happens at home? Respect seems to go out of the window and certainly both of the younger boys have this 'easy come, easy go' sort of attitude and it drives me crazy. If something gets broken, their answer is to buy a new one. A good example is Lego sets. R went through a phase of collecting these underwater themed Lego sets and we bought one for him last Christmas and it cost around £50. He loved it and painstakingly built it with his elder brother. Then it got broken. He was really cross and I said to him that we had the instructions and could build it again. Isn't that the whole point of Lego? His answer? He put the whole lot in the bin and said he was going to buy a new set! Of Lego!! I of course retrieved the Lego after a few choice words, but he has never rebuilt it and refuses to.
Like R, L has adopted a similar attitude. His constant ball kicking is a problem and he often breaks things and knocks things over. But apparently this is fine as everything is oh so easily replaceable. I wish that were true. I don't want to be constantly lecturing them about money or lack of it and there have been times when they have replaced things with their own money to try and prove the point, but it doesn't seem to be working.
This attitude seems to be worse in the summer holidays. We (and by this I mean me) are very lucky that daddy is at home for the majority of the summer holidays and so we do tend to make the most of our school holidays by going out and about for days out and trips. Currently within minutes of everyone waking up, the interrogation begins. I am sure that I am not alone, being bombarded by questions about the days activities and then the subsequent moaning that follows if they are not happy with the answers they get.
So why is this happening? It seems to me that we do now live in such a throw away society generally. You only have to look around charity shops, jumble sales and school fairs to see that. So much of the second hand stuff you can buy now is like new. Even with the renewed interest in thriftiness and recycling, the amount of stuff that gets bought for children alone and doesn't get played with or used is really quite scary. The boy's school had a fair towards the end of the year and the books, toys and games that had been donated looked like they were straight out of the shop.
It is our fault, I know that. As adults, we want everything to be the best and we constantly seem to strive to have everything bigger and better. The wonderful world of credit means that we don't have to save up for things any more; when we want something and we don't have the money, we whack it on the credit card, regardless and maybe some of that rubs off on them too. I knew the real value of money from a young age as we didn't have any. I wasn't spoilt and as soon as I was old enough, I was working and earning my own money.
Media is another problem. Children are so much more aware of what is on offer for them now thanks to television and the internet. Whilst my eldest now buys his own stuff, the two younger boys regularly search Amazon now for things they want and last year I had a very interesting parcel from Next which contained enough Super Mario t-shirts to clothe the whole street which my rather clever son had managed to order in a variety of sizes. I have had to change my passwords for fear that more unwanted parcels will start arriving. Once again, I only have myself to blame. I see a book or DVD I want and I click through on my phone and within two days it's in my hand. It is all copied behaviour if you think about it.
I have talked before about the amount of stuff that my children get and it is ridiculous. Christmas fills me with dread; the thought of all those new toys and things and where it will all go. There will certainly be a lot less coming from mummy and daddy this year. We do try not to buy things during the year, but little things add up too; magazines here and there, stickers, football cards, the odd DVD, the odd little thing if they happen to come to the supermarket with me. I am in the process of clearing stuff out and such a lot of lovely toys have gone to the charity shop like new.
It does make me feel better that at least someone will benefit from them, but it leaves me wondering how I teach my children the real value of things. What I would love to do is take them somewhere where children have nothing, really nothing and let them see how it is to live in a world very different to theirs, to help them understand how lucky they are and that all too often you can't just get a new one.