Sunday, August 5, 2012

T-Shirts, Trophies and Tiaras




We've been back in the states for about a month and a half now. But, I can't stop thinking about last summer in Morocco. Summer, when most of the expats skip town and travel to exotic destinations and my kids lose their playmates. The beaches are jam packed with locals in a flurry of pre-Ramadan playfulness. Then, when Ramadan did start, Rabat became a ghost town, at least until dusk. Our summer days choked, sputtered and stalled behind the walls of our 9 foot gate.

There wasn't much to do.

But this summer, we're in America. With a million things to do. And my kids want to do them all. All today. Yesterday would have been better. And to think, last summer they were content to make weapons out of sticks and duct tape in the yard. And they were happy. But now, we live in the land of t-shirts, trophies and tiaras. Where kids don't play with sticks anymore. And happiness can be bought. Or can it? Where it seems every kids activity has a mandatory snack, a free t-shirt, a trophy or a free coupon for a kids meal at Chick-fil-A. And worst case scenario, there's a tiara at stake. The only one I can tolerate is the free t-shirt. Unless it has an advertisement for Chick-fil-A on it.

It seems like it only took 3 seconds for the kids to transition from having very little to do in Africa to having to have everything in America. But it was probably more like 3 days. Maybe a week. I've kinda lost track of time this summer.

But in that time, whatever it actually was, a shift started to happen.

Suddenly, every drink requires ice. Lots of ice. Somehow, we survived fine without it for 2 years and our thirst was still quenched. Albeit at room temperature.

When we bought the new car we actually had to work out a schedule of who sits where to combat the constant squabbles. Gone are the days when we owned only one banged up piece of crap car that would reluctantly get us where we needed to go amid the sea of mopeds and donkeys. And we felt fortunate. Maybe we should have bought a goat instead.

Since we're back in the land of English and electronics, the kids are constantly asking to watch tv. We have a seemingly endless amounts of channels so there is always something on. And most of it is crap. I miss what a pain in the ass it was to download stuff from the internet, it made Dirty Jobs way the hell more dirty. And rewarding.

Then there's the shopping. Never in Morocco did any of the kids want to go shopping with me. I didn't want to go shopping there either. Now, they all want to come with me so they can beg me for things. I long for shopping in the Marjane where no one actually wanted anything. It was completely miserable. And a hell of a lot cheaper.

Now our fridge is stocked top to bottom, crammed full of Costco size portions. Yet, the kids will open it, stare blankly and proclaim there is nothing to eat. Which just freakin' pisses me off. Often times the fridge in Morocco was sparse. Barren even. (See above explanation on shopping.) Yet, there was always something to eat. Or maybe the sparseness just means they could see what was actually in the fridge better.

Don't even get me on kids with cell phones. My kids don't have any. Yet. Although all their friends do. So they say. Which I have argued is absolutely perfect because then they'll always have access to a phone. For free! I admit, I'd rather the kids have a phone than a tiara though.

Did they learn nothing in Morocco?

I'm starting to think we need to move to Bangladesh. Where I'm pretty sure there's no Real Housewives of Dhaka on tv. And I sure hope there's no Chick-fil-A.













12 comments:

Leah Griffith said...

Having too many options seems to cause a creative ice-age. There is nothing left to the imagination. Everything is instant, no need to scrounge for a snack, feeling proud of creating something from nothing—a mustard sandwich—a toy constructed from clothespins and twine. Everything is in your face ready which freezes children's minds, causing a sort of atrophy of grey matter.

I have to fight it as an adult. I force myself to sit outside in the quiet. No music or TV. Just me. And when I do this my imagination opens up wide like a hungry mouth. Good luck with this one girl. Great post!

stuartnager said...

Ah, the great consumers...don't forget, they are now slammed in the face with all this STUFF that they've had to do without/didn't really "know" existed on a daily basis. It's overload for them, as I'm sure it is for you as well.

Lay the ground rules, Mom. You can do it. They will realize what an amazing mom they have in the long run.

Chantel said...

Stick to yer guns PooBa. My boys are 11, 12, & 13 and NONE have cells or fb pages. Dammit. They are better for it--if I had a dollar for every horror story a neighbor/friend has told me about sending dirty pix, cheating, just getting all cozy with TOTAL strangers they met on a bus....

Dear Lord, parenting (i.e. attempting to keep your kids safe) is way more difficult with this media crap!

The Loerzels said...

@ Leah-Yeah, I fight it too!
@ Stuart-Yes, I'm completely overwhelmed. And thanks for the amazing mom comment. Last week I was in tears about how not amazing of a mom I felt.
@ Chantel-Managing the kids media is a whole freakin' job on it's own and I've promised my oldest he could have Facebook at 14, which is only a few months away and freakin' scary as hell!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Are you kidding? You are a totally amazing mom. I think people in our country are overwhelmed daily by too much "stuff," too many choices. I once counted 37 kinds of mustard at the grocery store. We do well to protect ourselves and our kids from as much of that as possible. That said, I was away from TV last week and now I find myself having make-up TV time. But it's Olympics, so that doesn't count, right?

The Loerzels said...

@BOG-Thank you for the vote of confidence. And of course watching the Olympics doesn't count!

A Brilliant Life said...

This is the post I have been waiting for. The comparison on the kid's stuff. Either way, good or bad. Kepp em coming! And, for the record, I agree with above comments to stick to your guns about it and also that this is still the transitional period and SUMMER, which is a total vacum...so...it will even out a bit I am sure!

Sine said...

This is exactly what I'm dreading when we move back. Here we seem to be doing more as a family because there is less else to do. We all watch the Olympics together because there is nothing much else on (if you don't count all the Hannah Montana reruns) and I've really enjoyed that. And no one asks for any fast food, because there is only a KFC and a McDonald's. There is hardly any choice of cereal, and yes, the portions I buy are much smaller and you can actually see what's in the fridge. To think I complained about that small fridge so much when we first got here!

And of all the fast food one could miss, I definitely miss Chick-Fil-A the very least. I could have boycotted it for no other reason than the food being terrible...

christine said...

Too many choices can be overwhelming- I agree- we've been in the "return to U.S." place before and it is tricky to navigate at times. Talk about choices- look at the cereal aisle- that's enough to make your head spin! Who needs that many types of cereal anyway? The media can be too much- we finally just got rid of all the tv's (yes, we had more than one!) and after the initial withdrawal life was soooo much better!
You stay strong and it will all get better. You got this!!

Rachel said...

This was very interesting and I think a testament to an amazing (maybe "amazing" is overkill) human capacity to adapt. I don't know that offering multiple choices kills imagination. I think an argument could be made that it actually ignites imagination, at least in some, otherwise there would be no free-thinking American intellectuals (notwithstanding consumers of Chick-fil-A's mechanically separated and processed poultry - granted, I don't know that they use processed chicken but it seems like a pretty fair assumption).

Anyway, another smart, thoughtful, but more importantly humorous post! :-)

Adriene said...

So many distractions here and so much at our fingertips, and not all of them necessary. This post is a good reminder for us to count our blessings and to maybe think twice about what we really "need" and how we spend our time. In any event, enjoy your time in the States!

MuMuGB said...

Too many choices in the US! I am sometimes worry because my kids have everything they need, and a lot more. They are used to get it all without an effort. I keep asking myself why I would make their life harder but I might be in denial...
As parents, we keep trying to do our best.

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