I love to see kids happy

That’s all. I can’t hate this season nearly as much, when I’m tucking in a couple of exhausted kids that have spent the day with huge smiles, hugs for everyone, and constant affirmations that “this was the best Christmas ever”. As much as I can’t stand the way our society buys into everything “they” tell us to do, I see those happy faces and my heart just explodes. I’m sorry, I’m weak. I am constantly telling myself that I’m not going to buy anymore foreign products, and I do try not to, but then there is some other doll, or toy, that they just have to have, and I cave. I don’t even try to take the high, moral ground, I just cave. Sometimes I hate myself for not sitting down and explaining to them that buying their “Monster High” products mean that some friend of theirs father doesn’t have a job in a factory making those dolls here. That that overpriced “Hello Kitty” watch just exploited one more Chinese labourer for $.25 an hour, or that the “Pillow Pets” that they got today, means that a Canadian family had to go to the food bank for their turkey dinner. I haven’t got the heart to tell them that the way we have raised them, is the very reason that they probably won’t be able to afford to have children of their own when they grow up.

I wish I could tell them that I’m sorry. I wish I could tell them that all of their friend’s parents shouldn’t buy those same products for their kids, and just because they do, doesn’t mean that we should as well. I would love to teach them about social responsibility, but how can I be so hypocritical, seeing as I’m in the same boat as they are? Maybe we shouldn’t let them watch the fucking Disney or Family channels anymore. If they don’t see the ads for these shoddy pieces of shit, maybe they won’t want us to buy them. I guess we will then have to pull them out of school, because if they are hanging out with kids that are watching the shows on these networks, they are surely going to want to watch them themselves. Where does it end? I guess you find a few other like-minded parents, and maybe set up a little home-schooling network, so that they have a social life, but are segregated from the majority of kids their age. I guess there will be no sports, because no kids want to be teased about their homemade clothes, weird outlook on life, and the fact that their parents are crackpot granolas that won’t let their kids lead a normal life.

I really don’t know what to do. I wish I did. I wish that these kids could understand that if they didn’t want all of this “stuff”, they could have such an enriched life of travel, reading, and living. Think about how much money you waste on crap, and figure it out over a five year period. What would your figure be? $20000, $40000, maybe $100000? Now think about what that money could mean for your kids. A summer trip to Europe, the arctic, or Africa? Maybe it could bankroll your own business, or would be put towards some RRSPs for you or them, if that’s your thing. I don’t know what you want for you or your family, but I know if I had an extra $40000 every five years, I’d get a little acreage, grow some food and build a little off-the-grid place where I would eat what I produce, and try to live a healthy, self sustaining lifestyle. I say try, because I don’t know if it would work or not. I sure hope it would though. I can’t think of anything better than to get up in the morning, go do the chores, get my relaxed ass to whatever amazing job I have, and come home after I was done, to top everyone’s water up, check for fresh eggs, and pick some beans and tomatoes out of the garden for supper. Maybe after the supper dishes are cleaned up, sit around with a library book for a bit, help the kids with their homework, if I’m able, and when it gets dark, head to the cocoon with the love of my life.

I guess that’s the romantic in me, but it’s the same dream I’ve had for the last ten years. I hope one day it becomes more than a dream, but until that time, I’ll keep drawing up plans in my head, listening to other people’s stories, and looking for that one big break. I’m lucky to have a partner that allows me to dream my own dream, and even though it may not be her ideal life, she’s willing to look at compromises that could be made for a comfortable life for all of us. I guess I have it pretty good, because up until now, my dreams had to be the same dreams as someone else’s, or they would remain just that… dreams.

I realize that switching two young girls over to that sort of life would greatly benefit them in so many ways, but the culture shock would be so great, that it would probably drive them away, and alienate them. For this reason, I couldn’t foresee this transition fully happening for at least another seven or eight years. That gives me lots of time to learn what I can from others, sock away what we can, and maybe change the way we live a little bit in the meantime. I guess every little bit helps, and my one big thing this year is going to be composting. We have the space now, and I think it will help with the amount of waste we produce, and it will help fertilize the gardens. (If we ever get that energetic.)

Anyhow, maybe you could take a look at your spending habits, figure out what you can do without, and try to educate your kids about how much the things that they want cost, how much of that money stays in their communities, and what that money could get them in the long run. I know that right now they just want shit, but over time, they may get a little smarter, quicker than we did.

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, go to the country, build you a home,


7 thoughts on “I love to see kids happy

  1. Birdman, I feel the exact, same way brother.
    Posts like this reaffirm the kinship I feel when I read them.
    What saddens me is that the majority of people are ignorant and lazy in their social responsibilities and it is those people that contribute to leading the human race down a path that people like you and me do not want to follow.
    The buying a farm idea has been in my head for a while too and if I had the money I would do it in a heartbeat.
    So, saying that, one of my goals of 2012 is to continue to control my money, but, make more of it and get to my goals faster as I feel the clock ticking faster these days. My boys and 3 and 6 and I wonder with great sadness some days, what actually lies ahead for them. I then channel this sadness into almost a Charlie Sheen like passion to protect them and my wife however I can – legal or not.
    I try to see the best in everyone and actually help coach people into ‘ Living Better ‘ – but there are days that really try my energies.

    Continue to keep it real in 2012 Birdman.
    I’m buying a generator this year so if the world goes to hell, I know I can hopefully still power-up and read your posts….

    All my best from mine to yours.

    • I don’t think that people are all lazy and ignorant, but either one or the other most times. Other than that, I think you’re bang on, and we should bang our heads together one of these days. Happy Festivus

  2. Baby, I love you. Thank you for this amazing post. I read it last night, and again just now. There will always be room in our life for compromise when it comes to living a better life. I honestly never thought about things this way. You open my eyes every day and make me think that things can be different if we think globally in so many instances in our lives. I love you so much, and I am so proud of the man you are. Xoxo

    • I love you too, and it goes both ways. You open my mind every day, and get me thinking before I act, which is a huge 180 for me. I don’t only think about what’s best for me anymore, but what’s best for us, and what’s going to be best for the kids. I really wish I had all of the answers, and maybe one day I will, but even if I don’t, it’s not going to hurt to try. I’ll be up in a bit.

  3. 3 years ago, we asked our kids where they wanted to go for vacation. I expected to hear Disney or something similar. What they told me was that they wanted to go to Egypt. I told them that I would have to do some research and that I would let them know.

    What I learned was that it was going to cost us about between $12,000 and $14,000 but that would give us a month of travel. Really, in the big scheme of things, not an extraordinary amount of money (about $800 a week each – very similar to an all inclusive in the south).

    We sat our kids down and told them that we absolutely would take them to Egypt but that in order to do so, they were going to have to participate in it. They had to give up birthday and Christmas gifts as well as vacations for 2 years. They also were responsible for making whatever arrangements with their teachers and school in order to be away from class that long. They agreed 100%.

    It was pretty hard to,resist buying all the shiny things and new clothes that their friends were getting for celebrations in those years but we did it. Was a very short Christmas morning when all that they got was their travel packs (not cheap by any means but part of the original plan for our adventure vacation). The worst was other parents saying to me “Seriously, you didn’t buy them Christmas presents?” like I was a bad parent or something.

    What my kids learned was sacrifice in understanding that money is not limitless and that choices need to be made. They also learned that birthdays and Christmas don’t have to be extravaganzas to be fun. They experienced another culture and saw that kids in other countries have completely different experiences than they do. They saw entire families living in mud huts along with farm animals. The saw smal children working the fields with oxen and donkeys, They also saw historical monuments and learned about ancient civiliazations. They also experienced Muslim and middle eastn culture first hand. They travelled with people from all over the world and slept under the stars in the Sahara desert.

    We spent last December in Egypt and spent Christmas day in Alexandria and Cairo. What they took away from that is more valuable than anything that I can buy for them. I am with you Birdman. Thie consumerism that our society holds so dear has no enduring value and we need to look to providing life lessons to our kids not the newest Barbie or video game. My kids are better for the choices we made for this trip and will carry it with them forever.

    Merry Christmas Mr and Mrs Birdman! All the best in the new year!

    • Wow, that’s fantastic. I really mean that, because it’s exactly what I was talking about. I knew that you had gone to Egypt for a long time, but the circumstances were unknown. I’m glad that you guys got to experience such a unique vacation together. It just goes to show what you can do when you think about things differently. Thanks for sharing that with us Lori.

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