A few weeks back, after abandoning potty training due to the onset of trauma, Mom and Buried and I took a quick run to Target.
While there, we decided to buy some off-brand diapers to get us through the next few weeks, enough time for Detective Munch to emerge from his PTSD (Potty Traumatic Stress Disorder) and get back on the potty train.
The cheapo diapers turned out to not be the best idea, as they were cheapo for a reason: they leaked worse than Julian Assange.
Which got me thinking. Maybe I shouldn’t shortchange my son.
I’ve written about trying not to spoil my son, but there’s a flipside to that coin: it doesn’t always pay to deprive him either.
I’m not one of those parents who thinks his kid is entitled to the best of everything. Not only is the entire idea of entitlement a load of bullshit, we also can’t afford the best of everything. So, like most parents, we occasionally cut corners.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming clear that the corners that are best cut are our corners, not our kid’s corners (and certainly not The Wire‘s corners because where’s Wallace at am I right?) While I’m perfectly fine with wearing off-brand diapers (Mom and Buried is into the baby fetish thing just kidding everyone sorry honey!), or eating questionable gas station sandwiches or even Food Lion’s weird brand of cheese puffs, partially because I can make that decision for myself and also because I am better equipped to deal with violent diarrhea, it’s probably not the best idea to shortchange your kid when it comes to certain things.
Especially when he gets violent diarrhea from his off-brand cheese puffs while wearing his off-brand diapers. That’s no fun for anybody (Mom and Buried).
Not everything that’s a little cheaper is necessarily of bad quality, but there are some areas where skimping probably doesn’t pay.
So while our son won’t grow up with the best of everything in an effort to ensure he doesn’t grow up to be as spoiled as the milk in our fridge (off-brand), he will grow up with the best of some things. Or, as best as we can get him without unduly limiting our enjoyment of our lives.
Which means caving, instead of scrimping, on the following five categories:
- Medicine – It’s tempting to use herbal remedies (marijuana) or prayers (nothing) to cure your own maladies, but it’s probably a good idea to have some actual medicine on hand in case your child gets a fever. I’m looking at you, Christian Scientists! If there’s one thing for which I’m happy to pay top dollar, it’s my son’s health care. I’m just glad rectal thermometers are cheap.
- Education – If he wants a top education, my son will need to pay his own way (I’m not paying through the nose for a “name” school when all he really needs to do to succeed is become friends with the people who go to them). But I will chip in to make sure he doesn’t have to go to the University of Phoenix, because if Twitter has taught me anything it’s that my computer is a liar.
- Clothing – see the aforementioned diaper-leakage story. From now on, we’re not taking that chance. High-end diapers all the way (well, as high end as they sell at Target, because why would I pay a fortune for a shit cocoon?).
- Food – the problem with fast food is that, while it’s disgusting and terrible for you, it’s super cheap. Which makes it both irresistible to college students and a necessity for many families. Personally I’d rather my kid starve than eat Taco Bell. So it’s nothing but high-end Chipotle for him. And some organic veggies from Trader Joe’s. BECAUSE WE CARE.
- Childcare – No need to compromise here: PBS is totally free. Regardless of what their terrible telethons want to make you believe!
It’s a fine line, providing your child with the things he needs to grow up happy and healthy without giving him so much that he grows up horrible and hateful. Hopefully, by spending big bucks on the aforementioned categories but otherwise spending next-to-nothing on his mooching ass, he’ll turn out okay.
And maybe I’ll still have a little something leftover for me to spend on my wife. God knows I never get anything for myself.