Does everybody have one of those television ads that speaks so loudly to you that you want to drag the whole family into the room and shout "See! That's what I've been trying to explain to you!" or is it just me?
I saw my favorite commercial the other day and had to will myself not to drag my teenager into the living room and tell her to listen carefully. You may know the ad I'm talking about, as last year it seemed it was on every ten minutes or so. It's a Hyundai ad narrated by Jeff Bridges and talks about our society's need for instant gratification. Of course it took me a few times around to actually pay enough attention to figure out what car company it was for, but that's because I was so mesmerized by the speech.
Here's the transcript for those who missed it:"Instant gratification has us in a stranglehold. So much so, that we don't want to fix things anymore... just replace them. Don't like your nose? Get a new one. Don't like your job? Get a new one. Don't like your spouse? Get a new one. Whatever happened to commitment? To standing by our decisions?"
Why does this simple commercial make me go, well, simple, standing slack-jawed in front of the TV? The irony is that though I completely agree with the message, within the past 5 years I've remarried and stepped away from a high-pressure job to pursue a writing career. I can honestly say though that my nose is the original.
All that aside, the idea of shunning instant gratification is on my mind a lot lately, especially as I forge the territory of parenting an adolescent girl. Nothing in the first decade or so of her life prepared me for the "gimmes," "I wants," and "everybody else has-es" that are apparently side effects of middle school and hormones.
Last year, at about the same time this commercial began airing, Little Miss Puh-lease Mom came home consumed by the idea that she needed a pair of Uggs. For those of you who don't know, Uggs are the thing to wear on your feet.
As with all the fashions lately, these calf-length sheepskin, pom-pom adorned boots are completely retro--I remember wearing them when I was in middle school a little over twenty years ago. What isn't retro, however, is the price. As we discovered on our little shopping venture, the least expensive, non-name brand version of the boots were still at least $65.
That's a whole lot of money to shell out for a pair of boots that (a) don't keep your feet warm in the New England winter, (b) aren't even waterproof and (c) would sit alongside the obscene number of shoes Little Miss already owns. And, frankly, we can't afford them.We found a pair on sale for $30 which, again frankly, is still more than we could in good conscience take out of our budget. Don't get me wrong--if she needed shoes, I would gladly pay for them. But, she didn't need them. She wanted them.
So, here's where I come full circle back to the idea of instant gratification. My husband and I decided we weren't going to pay for them; Little Miss Puh-lease Mom would just have to save up. We told her we'd chip in $10-$15 but she'd have to come up with the rest. After counting all her money, down to the last penny, she tearfully came up $5 short.
Feeling terrible, we stuck to our guns even when she (reasonably) argued that the sale was going to be over at the end of the week and she'd have to save up even longer. It was an important lesson to teach her: that not everything is going to come easily and she can't always get everything she wants without working for it.
Apparently though, instant gratification is a group effort. Two days later there was a teen prancing around our house in new boots, having managed to borrow the extra money from a friend. I'd been foiled. Hmmm, maybe that ad will be on during tonight's family television time.