A few weeks ago, my middle daughter absolutely needed to have a puppy. In spite of the fact that she’s 14, she was standing in my bedroom, tears rolling down her face, showing me pictures of adorable puppies available for adoption that she had to have. It must have slipped her mind that we already have two dogs. I would think she’d remember them since she’s constantly yelling for them to “Get Out!” of her room. No, guess not. Jillian has a history of passionately wanting something for about 24 – 28.5 hours. In fact, I have 4 cactii downstairs as proof. Excuse me, 1 very phallic cactus and 3 succulents. Why a teenager who keeps her room as dark as Dracula’s tomb would want 4 sun-loving plants is beyond me, but I indulged her.
The plants were probably the least expensive of the recent “must-haves” which included the aforementioned puppy, a spur-of-the-moment trip to NYC, private boxing lessons, a road bike and a mini-fridge for her room. Jill is convinced she’s a Kardashian.
All of this got me to thinking of the things I really really “needed” when I was a child. Unlike my own children, we got new things exactly 3 times a year: Christmas, our birthdays, and new shoes and clothes for back to school. As a result, our wish lists were very carefully curated, almost like college applications: a couple of “safe” items, the ones we really wanted and then one or two “dream” items. My mom always came through and made our Christmas awesome, but there were some things I never got for Christmas that I still secretly covet.
Rock Tumbler – If you grew up in the 1970’s, you remember the commercials. In go the dirty, sad-looking rocks, the tumbler does it’s tumbling thing and out comes a polished gem. If memory serves, it even came with hardware so you could make a key chain. As an 8-year-old, I had a pressing need for a key chain. Where else would I keep the teeny tiny key to my diary? I still want one. Key chains for everyone!
Metal Detector – We often spent summer days at Coney Island, laying on the beach drinking instant iced tea and ham sandwiches that always came with a little sand in them. Invariably, someone would stroll by with a metal detector, sweeping the beach for whatever lost treasure was hidden under the sand. If my mother (and the unsuspecting guy) would have let me, I would have followed him around all day. I think I wanted a metal detector more than a rock tumbler. Even today, I’ll spend hours combing the beach for seashells – imagine what I could do looking beneath the sand? I’m sure I’ll be the one to find that necklace from Titanic when it washes ashore. Or maybe a quarter. Or the filling that popped out of your tooth when you bit into the sand-ham sandwich.
Easy Bake Oven – If only my mom had exposed me to cooking at a tender age, perhaps I’d be better at it now. No, I was denied the joy of artificially flavored cake baked by an incredibly hot lightbulb to the consistency of a hockey puck. Oh, the inhumanity of it all. Frankly, I still haven’t recovered. In fact, I count my tendency toward cooking hockey puck-flavored foods as a subconscious cry for the childhood baking I was cruelly denied. Either that, or I’m too busy looking at Pinterest to keep an eye on what I’m cooking, but whatever.
Any Strawberry Shortcake Doll – Strawberry Shortcake was to my childhood as Polly Pockets was to my girls’. You had to have Strawberry, all her friends, the dogs and her little strawberry play land. I had…none. My mom was just never a “joiner” when it came to the popular toys. I think she wanted us to pave our own way. You know the mom that makes the burger that’s the “exact same thing” as a Big Mac, but not? That’s my mom, bless her heart. Probably why I got a knockoff Strawberry Shortstack (see what they did there?) She didn’t even smell like strawberries! It’s incredible that I’ve managed to get to adulthood as well-adjusted as I am, what with all the fake Big Macs and non-smelling dolls I was subjected to.
It gives me hope for my own daughter. Maybe she’ll be able to pull through like her mom did and have a happy childhood without a new puppy to carry around NYC in a boxing glove.
She can always snuggle that cactus.
What did you “have to have” as a kid? Do you still want one?