Our fifteen year old son is building a gaming computer. I am immensely proud of him but not for the reasons you may think.
You see, like other millennials he has a desperate (and often loud) need for instant gratification, so when he told the Mr and I that for his birthday he wanted to build his own gaming computer we realized here (at last) was our opportunity to teach him about the benefits of having a strong work ethic and of delaying gratification.
If you are the parent of a teenager you will understand how difficult it is for them to appreciate delaying gratification for any reason. Their friends can be reached instantly via text or on Facebook and should they need to know if there are yaks in South America they’re a Google second away from having the answer. Furthermore if they require feedback on anything like a new haircut or a pair of trainers they ask about it on Snapchat or Instagram.
So imagine how he reacted when we said ‘Yeah sure bud we’ll get you the parts but a) you’ll have to work for it and b) you only get a maximum of four parts a month until you have all the necessary components”.
Well. That, went down like this:
“I’m not sure I heard you. Wanna text me what you just said?”
‘You heard us.”
“Did you say I would have to build my computer over several MONTHS?”
“I could be dead by then.”
Mr and I blinked in unison.
“Technology evolves at such a rapid pace I could be building a dinosaur computer.”
Mr and I blinked again.
“But the game I want to play on my new computer comes out next week!”
I got up to make cups of chamomile tea.
“There’s a law somewhere against doing this to children in Canada! I know there is! I’ll google it! This is torture.”
When he calmed down to a hissing fit we explained our logic to him. There are no free handouts in life. You get what you work for and you have to learn to put things away (like money)and forget about it.
When the first batch of parts arrived he was happy for 48 hrs and then he reverted to all kinds of shenanigans. He threatened to go on a hunger strike just before I decided to bake blueberry muffins. He ate six of the twelve muffins. He refused to clean up his room until I showed him that there was a massive sale on keyboards (50% off!) and that his laziness was costing us money. He staged a silent protest beside the garbage bin on garbage collection day until I reminded him a black bear was spotted in our street earlier that week and well, if he wanted to deal with that problem while I was at work he was welcome to it.
Maybe it is a generational thing. I don’t know. I have never had trouble delaying gratification. In fact I get immense pleasure from saving for something I want or buying something small like a chocolate bar and hiding it away for a ‘rainy day’.
Do you suffer from a need for instant gratification?
Since then our son has come a long way. How do I know? Well yesterday at the store he picked out a mousepad that reads:
Keep Calm And Carry On
Trust me he would have never picked that one three months ago.