Saturday, February 14, 2009

Injection-molded plastic envy

While getting my new phone number, I asked the kiosk guy if he had any plastic display models my kids could have. He said sure, and gave me two. I had Isaac and Melissa with me -- all three is a real handful -- so Melissa picked one and I took the other home to Matthew.

All was not well.

Melissa's, you see, had a slide-out qwerty keyboard. Matthew's was a non-sliding model.

Matthew was violently upset by this inequity. So I gave his to Isaac instead. (Isaac was very pleased.)

Jealousy sucks. If Matthew had been the only one to get a phone (of either model) it would have been another forgotten occupant of the toy bins within a week, probably just a day. Rachel and I pointed out that he had a real working camera, among other things that his sister does not, but he was not mollified in the heat of his anger.

He ripped his bed apart to show us how angry he was, which sort of worked in that it does piss me off. The last time he did that we had him sleep on the raw mattress until the next normal changing of the bedding. The problem with that is he likes to wrap himself -- including his head -- in way too many blankets, which makes him sweaty and frankly stinky. So we don't really want him on the mattress like that. New solution: sleeping on the floor. At least that is easy to shampoo.

Matthew's attitude is normal: given the choice, most people would rather have less on an absolute scale, as long as they have more than their peers. Normal, but not really healthy, I submit. I think that attitude can be changed. And of course Matthew is young still.

Back to our story: I told Matthew that if he really thought the phone was such a big deal he could offer to trade his camera for it. He tried to offer his old film camera; I told him that wouldn't cut it. He said he would think about it.

I thought this would make him realize that the phone wasn't worth it, but he told Rachel that he did want to make that trade. Rachel didn't know what I had told him, and I was taking a nap, so Rachel said that Melissa was too young for a camera and put a stop to it there. So Matthew came up with the idea that he would share his train bean bag, which Melissa covets, in exchange for time with the phone. Melissa thought that was a fine deal, and the tempest in a teacup was over.

1 comment:

Butterfly Girl said...

hunh. Really interesting article abt relative well-being and interesting seeing it in action with your kids. Sounds like Matthew is learning the art of negotiation well. Impressive he's learning that tantrums don't get you what you want, which means his parents have been doing a good job. :)