You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.
— Meryl Streep
Like most parents, I try to give the best to my daughter without spoiling her. Sometimes, it’s tough knowing where to draw the line.
Just for fun, we once took a weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina. As we strolled through an outdoor market in the town’s historic district, we came upon a table of hand-made Russian nesting dolls. There were about two dozen sets of the colorful matryoshka, each presented in a different theme: animals, children, flowers.
The dolls were beautiful; my 7-year-old daughter was mesmerized. She eyed each set carefully, working up the courage to ask if I’d buy her one.
I silently mulled how I’d answer her. These weren’t children’s dolls; these were collectibles. The cheapest set was $28, and they escalated in price to about $120. She was looking at a cute set of Panda bears that ran $40.
Candidly, price was not the real issue. I had other concerns. I wondered if she’d enjoy the dolls for an afternoon and then relegate them to a box in her room – home to many other “gotta have it” toys and dolls.
In fairness, on occasion she’ll pull out a stuffed bear or ignored souvenir from another vacation, using it to help recall a fun memory from the trip. Maybe she’d assign a warm memory to the dolls.
On the other hand, my daughter was going through a “I-want-to-buy-something-everywhere-we-go” phase. I often said yes – too often.
Ultimately, I said “no” to the dolls. They were too extravagant for a casual souvenir. My daughter curled her lip for a minute but didn’t complain. I think she understood. Later, we let her choose a children’s book from another booth, and she was happy.
Did I draw the line at the right time – or did I deny her the chance to begin a lifetime love of collecting Russian dolls?
I think I made the right decision, but it’s a constant balance to give without giving too much.