Isn’t it funny how we change as we get older and somewhat wiser? And it starts very early in life. Four years ago I had my then 8 year old pleading with me to buy him the Doctor Who comic because it had collectable cards inside. So for the next two years I bought him the Doctor Who comics and he collected all the cards; the complete cast of characters; Doctor Who, Rose Tyler, Daleks, Cyber men and god knows what other god awful manner of weird monsters the BBC could think up. He had two big special Doctor Who albums full of them and spent long hours each night sorting them into little pockets in the albums and swapping them around.
And then two years ago when he got to ten years old and due to holidays away he missed a few comics. He begged me to write off to the BBC to get the ones he missed, life was not worth living without those missing cards. I asked him what was his most prized procession at that stage of his life and it was his Doctor Who card collection. I asked him could he ever imagine a life in which he didn’t care about his cards and he said NO, he will collect those cards for the rest of his life and I asked did he think he would ever lose those albums and he said NEVER, he will ALWAYS have them.
So, two years later and I’m dropping him off at his mums tonight. I’m in his bedroom and I ask him where his Doctor Who cards are? He doesn’t know. OK, then when did he last see them, when did he last get some new cards? No idea. And would he be devastated if he never saw them ever again? Nope, doesn’t care about them any more. But two years ago he begged me to get him those back issues and it was the most important thing in the whole wide world.
It’s interesting how ones priorities change. Now second born cannot live without me buying him a lifetimes membership of Champions-Online at a cost of £192. I spluttered. I laughed out loud. I tried explaining that in one years’ time he will have outgrown Champions-Online and I’m not going to pay £192 for something that will only be used for one year before that too is lost in the mists of time. And he begged me because it was the most important thing in the whole wide world and he will NEVER EVER get bored with Champions-Online…EVER! Sigh..
But here’s the problem. Can I put a price on my child’s happiness?
He really did LOVE his Doctor Who cards and got tremendous pleasure from building up his collection and swapping cards at school and having a complete set and all the special sets. And at school collecting the cards was the one common activity all the kids did, I think a few years ago it was collecting Pokemon cards but the kids had their own language and knew all about the cards and which ones were the most valuable. There was a whole Doctor Who card culture and to exclude him from that would have been perhaps unfair.. so for a few quid each week he was able to participate in this common interest and feel part of a gang.
Clever marketing by the BBC by the way.
But now he wants me to spend £192 on Champions-Online life-time membership and I asked him about his Doctor Who cards and how he doesn’t give a damn about them now and how he won’t give a damn about Champions-Online in one years time but oh no daddy, I will NEVER EVER get fed up with Champions-Online..
Fortunately Fathers Day was in June, so at least I have eleven months before he rescinds my status as “Best Dad in the Whole Wide World” by not buying me yet another Fathers Day mug. I can’t wait until he has kids of his own and the cycle starts all over again..
When both beasties were five years old I’d sit with them and give them a choice, they could have one sweetie now or if they waited they could have two each tomorrow and always without exception they always took the instant hit, they couldn’t see as far ahead as tomorrow and they were never prepared to wait until then but wanted the sweets now. I have carried on doing this with them at random times but every time they always take the instant hit, a computer game today or two computer games tomorrow, no thank you, I want the instant hit now and I wonder at what point their perspective will change and they will be able to see beyond today or the next few days, and I wonder, if you are a 12yr old boy, just how long is ‘life-time membership’, is it just until you go to bed that evening?