When I started planning this post, when I first thought it up based on being caught in that moment of jealousy, my child was doing something I wished I was doing. I whipped out my phone, logged into my blog and created a draft with the title 8 Ways I’m Jealous of My Kids.
I didn’t have eight points listed but I know that there are many times and in many situations where my boys are doing something or getting something (or getting up to something) that I’m envious of them. Sometimes it’s for things that young children born in the last decade have got to experience that we didn’t have when I was a child, and sometimes it for things that we did have back then but I was not able to do it or we couldn’t afford to do it, or my parents banned me from doing the thing or having the item that we allow our children to do now.
And it’s that very situation that would make many a parent jealous of their own children, the fact that growing up back in the 1970s or 1980s when the majority of parents like my own were very conservative and very thrifty and wanted to get value for money in everything they did. It’s not really like that now. Oh sure there are some that look at money and think “we really should be saving it for a rainy day, or maybe even for our child’s university fund,” but for the most part, the parents that I am surrounded by now, those from my local neighbourhood, my first born son’s school and our youngest son’s preschool, these parents seem to want to focus the best part of their extra cash on their kids.
Fortune aside, there are plenty of things that money can’t buy that make me jealous of them too. And I know that I’m not the only parent who feels this way which is why I changed the title to 8 Ways Every Parent Is Jealous Of Their Kids, because, it IS every parent.
1. Nap Time
Let me get this one out of the first as this is what inspired this post. Our three year old fell asleep in my car on the way home from a six year old boy’s birthday party. Having gone to bed at 1am, being woken by that three year old sweet child o’ mine after he wet the bed circa 3am, and then getting woken up nice and early on the day of the party I was insanely jealous that he got a nap and I had stuff to do once we got home. And that night my wife and I had a wedding to attend which was a 45 minute drive from home up the mountains. I really could have taken in a nap.
And it’s not just those days when there’s been “accidents” in bed at night waking either child that we need to attend to, or even late nights the night before where I’m to blame for staying up too late. There’s plenty of days when I’m a work or even on a weekend when I’ve woken up feeling great and by midday the strong need of a nap is tapping me on the shoulder or rubbing The Sandman’s sand in my eyes.
2. Good Looks
Whether it’s “too cute”, “she’s the most gorgeous little girl you’ve ever seen”, “OMG he’s handsome,” or the millions of other positive comments us parents get when uploading a photo of our kids to Facebook, our children are so damn good looking. All of them. Yours, mine, theirs…
Every. Freakin’. Kid. Well most of them. Earlier this year in three parenting groups I’m in on Facebook I asked this question;
“Why did you choose the picture you have as your profile picture as your current profile picture?”
I came up with a hypothesis before asking this question and had made assumptions based on those who had one or more of their children and only their children in the profile picture. And for the most part, my hypothesis was right. Those parents who had their kids as their profile picture thought that their kids were way better looking than they were. Some of the mothers who had their babies as their profile picture said that they wouldn’t use a photo of them until they lost the baby weight. And for some of the dads who responded, them being overweight and not being very photogenic played a part in their choice as well.
I have been privy to many conversations where either parent has commented on how their children are blessed with good looks and they’re thankful that their children didn’t inherit those features that they deem as faults in their own looks. I’m guilty of this if in fact it’s something we need to be made guilty of feeling. But the truth is my boys are both extremely handsome and are much more so that I ever was or ever will be.
3. Over The Top Birthday Parties
This year we’ve been to a tenpin bowling party, an indoor rock climbing party, an indoor trampoline centre party, and multiple McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s parties. Over the years we’ve been to parties with performers, clowns, dance parties with disco lights and karaoke machines for children turning five or younger. We’ve held parties like these of our own; at indoor play centres with climbing frames and slides higher than those at Luna Park, at indoor sports clubs where the kids get to play indoor soccer with a host supplied by the venue to keep the kids in line. We’ve had parties at homes where the parents have organised mobile petting farms, reptile zoos and pony rides up and down the street.
We’ve had “quiet” parties at home as well where we planned nothing too ‘over the top” only to end up catering for an army of parents and kids with a barbecue full of sausages, salads galore and enough beer, wine, Champaign and fizzy drinks to satisfy a stadium full of guests. Yes there’s been some serious dough coughed up for some of the parties we’ve been invited to, and ones we’ve held ourselves.
It’s a far cry from the days when my parents told me I could invite ten kids over for a couple of hours and we’ll play a few party games.” Back then it was a glass of red cordial, a few handfuls of Cheezels or Cheetos, some fairy bread, and a couple of cocktail frankfurters dipped in tomato sauce for each kid followed by a piece of birthday cake and the smallest party bag sending the child on their way.
4. Gaming Consoles
Then: Atari and NES
Now: Nintendo Wii U, Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. 8-bit versus 8,000,000,000-bit.
Then: Nintendo Game & Watch
Now: Android and iPhone games on demand; some free, some only $0.99, but these days if you carry one device you can have a million games at your disposal. The Game & Watch hand-held devices weren’t so expansive.
I really don’t need to add more…
5. Merchandise Galore
When I was a really young child merchandise was still in its infancy. Star Wars figures were paving the way for toy makers to team up with movie makers to produce a toy-line, but that was about it. As I got a little older there were a few movies that had 8-bit video games released but they were more two-bit than 8-bit in my book. Remember E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600) anyone? It was considered one of the worst video games ever. Yeah, I’d forget about that too.
These days it’s hard to tell the video game from the CGI laden movies. And then there’s the clothing. I remember when only bands had merchandise t-shirts available at concerts. Now every second kid is wearing a Frozen top or Toy Story or even the various Lego themes emblazoned across their chest on a top. And their pants. And the socks. And the hat. And the pyjamas. And the bedding set. And the posters on the wall, or the decals.
There are more kids wearing Star Wars: A New Hope tops in 2014 than there was back in 1977. I always wanted a Luke Skywalker t-shirt. I never got one.
6. Halloween in Australia
Speaking of merchandise for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for Christmas in 1983 my grandmother bought me an E.T. plush toy. I really loved that movie. I also got the easy-read book that was released by the company that sells books through the school book club in Australia. (But I didn’t get the t-shirt.) One scene that stuck clear in my mind was the Halloween scene where our little alien friend dressed up as a ghost and went trick or treating with these American kids. Back in 1982 we didn’t have Halloween in Australia. In fact Halloween is really only something we’ve taken to in the last few years.
I grew up watching things like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the Muppet Show’s various Halloween specials, the Flintstone’s Halloween special, and Casper the Friendly Ghost’s Halloween special to name but a few. We had the knowledge of the celebration here years before it ever took off. And seeing it is the Generation X parents that are embracing it for their Generation Z children, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one glued to my television set during the late 1970s and 1980s watching these American television shows’ Halloween specials.
Back when I was a kid “I got less than a rock.” Yep, I know how you felt, Charlie Brown…
7. DVD Players in the Car
We didn’t get a video cassette player until I was well into my teens. Off memory it was around Christmas 1989 that we got one as I remember getting Bon Jovi’s New Jersey: The Videos for Christmas that year and watching it over and over again. I didn’t have a very big video collection which in hindsight was probably a good thing as I was out working when DVDs became popular and I bought myself a DVD player and didn’t have to “waste” money replacing the video cassette version.
On those long trips from Sydney to Australia’s favourite holiday destination, sunny Queensland, my brother and I would take our small collection of Game & Watches and our Sony Walkmans and play a few games of “I spy” or “look, there’s a windmill…” But we still got bored on that 12 to 15 hour drive.
Now days, even if we’re just popping around the corner to the shops, my kids stick the DVD player on in my car and they are never bored. If they are at home with nothing better to do they stick a DVD on. Well, that’s if they get sick of watching the…
8. Non Stop Children’s Television Shows on Live TV
When I was a kid children’s television programming was confined to no more than two hours of cartoons on two of our commercial television stations each weekday morning, and educational programming for young children such as Sesame Street and Play School on the government run television network. Then there was Fat Cat and Friends on one commercial network up against Humphrey B. Bear on the rival network followed by Romper Room. By 10:30am children’s television was pretty much over until 3pm when more educational shows like the Curiosity Show, Wombat, and Simon Townsend’s Wonder World were on capturing the after school market until reruns of the Brady Bunch, Diff’rent Strokes, Happy Days and M.A.S.H. lead the way up to the 6pm news.
There was another three hours of cartoons on Saturday mornings played within those Saturday morning kid’s live broadcast shows such as The Early Bird Show, Agro’s Cartoon Connection (before it became a Monday to Friday morning show) and The Cartoon Company. But that was it. Children’s television in the late 1970s and 1980s was limited to no more than 40 hours of programming per week, and that’s if you watched everything on every channel.
Now we have cable television networks that run children’s shows 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can watch Nick Jnr at 2am. No child who is up at 2am needs to be watching Almost Naked Animals. It’s not like the kids are working night shift. Any kid who is up at that time better be breastfeeding otherwise it’s straight back to bed for them.
Even our government run national broadcaster has children’s shows starting from 6am through to 7pm seven days a week. The kids are spoiled. The programming is the same every day as well. When I was a kid (yes, I said that) at 8:30am on Friday morning I had to wait until 8am Monday morning to see what He-Man and his mates were up to. Now the kids only have to wait a few hours and Peppa Pig is back on with an episode or two in the afternoon to follow on from the episode or two that were on in the morning. Seven. Days. A. Week.
I could list more. I could go on with a list longer than my arm. The kids today have everything and it’s
stupid loving parents like us who facilitate their every desire to make up for what we missed out on when we were young.
And when you look at the list I have produced, many of these things are retrospective; that is, I’m jealous that I didn’t have these things when I was young, not that I want them now.
But I’m not knocking back those naps during the day if ever I get the chance…
Are you jealous of your children? What is something your kid’s have now that you didn’t have when you were younger?