Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Can't Afford That

Sweet Pea has been asking "why" for a while now, but in the last month it has become her response to practically everything I tell her. This can be fun (why is it cloudy?) and it can be frustrating (why can't I have another Lego set?). Sometimes I choose an answer I regret, because it leads to more confusion, more questions, and me doubting my own answer. One of the worst of these, I think, is the "we can't afford it" answer. First of all, it doesn't make any sense to her - money is just everywhere to her, and she sees us give money to salespeople and them giving us money right back (change). When she plays at buying things at home, imaginary money always changes hands both directions. How can a three-year-old be expected to understand things as complicated as paychecks, tax returns, and budgets? Secondly, I don't like this answer because it often rings false to me. When there is something that we really need, we buy it. We have credit cards for just that reason. Although we technically can't afford my husband's physical therapy sessions for his knee, he needs it so we do it. So maybe it's time to work on the concept of needs vs. wants with my daughter? Even then, though, the "affordability" explanation still doesn't work because sometimes, we buy things just because we want them, even though they may be outside of our budget.

One such thing was our recent session with the amazing photographer, Amanda Reed. She took family photos for us when Stella was around 18 months old, and I treasure them. I wanted to get some new photos with our newly expanded family, and was lucky to see she was offering a special for newborns. No, we didn't need these photos, but they are something that I really really wanted. They are gifts for us, for our extended family, and for future generations of our family. As Joe said, this isn't exactly something that we could wait to do until we had saved the money for it, as our baby won't be a baby forever. So affordability can become quite complex, with all sorts of calculations of personal value and values in addition to the hard facts of dollars and cents. It seems like maybe the best answer to Stella's "why can't I have that?" at the store is simply, "because you don't need it" or "because I said no." For now....

Here is one of the photos from our session in February:

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