We don’t play the stock market. Our family “portfolio” is a tattered manila folder containing a couple of savings bonds the kids were gifted with at their baptisms, along with a few random warranties and receipts that made their way in there over the years. I can picture a broker, getting a gander at our finances, and keeling over in shock. Our 401? Not ‘K!
What we HAVE played, much too often, is the toy market. We spent the equivalent of their college educations on Beanie Babies and Brio trains and stuff by Nintendo. We usually bought when prices were highest—like at Christmas time, when supply was limited. I recall the year A #1 big sister Rose spent her baking business money on an elusive Game Boy Color for young PJ. There had been a typhoon near the factory in Japan and shipments were basically halted, just before Yuletide. When she at last found one on eBay, what should have cost less than $50, ended up being (ahem) several hundred hard-earned bucks. Another quest was for the royal purple Princess Diana Beanie Baby. Along with half the parents in America, I stalked every Beanie-selling emporium at holiday time, praying that a Di would suddenly pop up somewhere. Never got one, but did nab another few "valuable" Beanies. Everyone said they were all collector’s items and would be worth a mint someday! Needless to say, our stuffed friends' tags were soon torn off by one child or another, and their perceived value plummeted. I think you can find them now for about five bucks.
Well, now I am living with two parents who do not play the toy market, Sheridan and Ya-Jhu. While my instinct is to overindulge Aiden and Peter, they are quick to rein me in. And guess what? They are two very happy, well-adjusted, non-acquisitive little boys. Aiden’s Santa list this year (which was actually a random scribbling of letters all over the page) was translated by my grandson as, “I love you, Santa.”
On Christmas morning, our small guys got a modest haul—but the point is, they loved every item because there weren’t too many of them. Aiden’s compass from Julie and Gil, Peter’s woolen hat shaped like a shark, from Patrick and Meg—BIG hits. Both kids love a show on Netflix called “Octonauts”, a cartoon featuring undersea animal explorers that is actually quite educational, as well as cute. So the major item from Santa Seyfried was an Octonaut play set, complete with creatures and Octopod. Aiden played with it nonstop for 48 hours, no exaggeration. That and their few other, well-chosen toys, have kept them happily occupied for months.
Do I wish for a parenting do-over, with more Dow Jones and less Mattel? Not really, I guess. Our major investment has always been our family, and while that will never buy us a retirement yacht (or even rowboat), when it comes to love, Steve and I both feel like millionaires.