in Cognitive Wisdom, Prism of Life


“If you have money, then why shouldn’t you buy me everything that money could buy”?

Spending our usual weekend family time at the favorite mall has become a common experience for everyone. You go there without any particular wish-list. Yet, you love spending both your time and money at the venue. It seems to fit perfectly with your narrow definition of “quality” time with your loved ones. Because, on regular weekdays, you rarely get an opportunity to spend time with them.

As a result, visiting the mall during the weekend has become a regular ritual. And as a byproduct of that ritual, you don’t mind spending money.

As a part of your regular visit, you are visibly excited to buy your latest toy — a newly launched iPhone and Mac Book. So far, you have never missed an opportunity to upgrade your favorite devices. And you are proud of this achievement. And why shouldn’t you? You have slogged long hours staring at the laptop to earn the stash of currency lying idle in your salary account.

If you can afford it, why should you sweat? After all, you deserve to spend your hard-earned money on yourself. What else are you earning your money for?

But wait, why are we getting into moral hazard of spending? After all, it’s your money and you will spend it the way you like it.

But deep down you are aware your expenditure is on things which you don’t need in first place. But why should you mind?

Except, on the occasion when your eleven-year-old mature kid who wants to lay his hand on the latest model of X-box. And it is coinciding during the same week when your favorite toy is launching. And to add further spice in this unenviable situation there exists an earlier commitment on your part to take your family to an exotic location.

Being your only son, all his wishes have always been your priority. After all, you are, working as a slave (who is available 24×7) for the sake of your family. Fulfillment of their wishes remains number one priority for you. And there is no way you could abdicate this crucial responsibility, without getting stuck in the quagmire of your own created self-guilt.

Somehow, this innocuous looking activity of binge buying has become a habit for your son too. He has now started mistaking it as his entitlement. And you realized it only recently when he shouted: “Dad If you have money, then why shouldn’t you buy me everything that money could buy”?

So what makes you stop in your tracks when you hear this harmless question? Is this really something you should worry or are you reading too much between the lines?

Definitely not the easiest of questions.

When it comes to buying your own latest toys, you are not questioning your entitlement. Then why the same yardstick can’t be applied to your son.

Being your only son, he is definitely born with certain entitlement — there is no denying this fact. But, as a parent, it’s entirely your responsibility to define the boundaries of those entitlements.

However, before diving deep into the sensitive issue of entitlement and responsibility, let’s start reading between the lines so that you are better placed to challenge your own pattern of behavioral eccentricities.

And the first thing to notice here is — how stupid is your conspicuous consumption? Associating false pride with consumption & possessions is victimizing your rationality.

But, despite knowing this stupidity, are you brave enough to make amends? Can you become a role model for your kid? Setting an example by refraining yourself from buying items which you could afford.

First of all, you need to convince yourself — why you need to influence your kid? There is no shortcut here. The sense of entitlement that comes uninvited with swelling of your bank account is something to watch out for.

The basic urge to signal your rank among the social strata makes you buy things that you don’t need, spend your holidays at places where you don’t belong, drive cars that validates your perceived status, talk in a language that’s not your mother tongue.

Living a life of a complete lie. And getting so used to it.

The image you wish to build and project among the public in general & friends and relatives, in particular, gets perpetuated further when you start believing all those lies you keep telling yourself.

You are not yet ready to forgo your sense of entitlement because you think you have earned it through your hard work. Still, you don’t want your kid to have that sense especially at the age when they are yet to earn their stripes in dollars.

So actually your trepidation is not entirely misplaced. But the question is how do you address it?

Since I am yet to reach that stage in my parenting where I had to face this question — as my little princess is only five years old.

I got a first-hand experience of this difficult question when I was accompanying my friend on a weekend visit to the mall. My friend was the fortunate soul who had to encounter this uncomfortable question. And he wasn’t ready for it. So I promised him to find a convincing answer.

Two days after the incident — I thought I found an answer. Since it was a Sunday morning I asked my friend if he could join us with Sam — his son for breakfast at my home. His son was reluctant because he had a soccer session in afternoon. But we somehow managed to get his nod after promising him tickets for upcoming premier league soccer match.

After having breakfast three of us left for a morning drive. Half an hour of drive and we made a halt at a small mango farm. Even my friend had no clue about the plan. The owner of that farm who was an old friend of mine took us for a walk. Since we were still a couple of months away from the full ripening season, the trees were full of small-sized green colored mangoes.

Few of those mangoes had almost attained their full size, but yet to cross the ripening stage. Like every fruit mangoes too have its natural process of developing, going from raw to ripe forms.

If you pluck fruits too early, they usually stay raw, sour and tart from the inside. But ripe fruits rot faster, making their market life shorter.

That’s why farmers and vendors have to brave this tricky situation where they need to find and segregate the lot that needs plucking depending upon the stages of their ripening. Besides, factoring time and distance required by the product to reach the destination market.

Soon after we visited a nearby pond used for fish farming. Coincidentally my friend was the owner of that pond too. He shared that it was the partial harvesting season for some species of fishes — those who meet the harvesting size after 7 — 12 months of stocking and have reached a marketable size.

Partial harvesting is possible when you remove bigger fish to allow smaller one’s space to grow before total harvesting.

When different age group of the same fish species or combination of different species are together in the pond, then fish are bound to mature at different times.

Partial harvest of the pond is always done with proper mesh size so that matured fish could be selected for market sale or family consumption while undersized ones find their way back to the pond.

Sam seemed to have enjoyed himself during the trip. It was a welcome break from his monotonous routine. That’s what we thought.

While driving back me and Sam’s father was more interested in knowing whether Sam was mature enough to get the intended drift. I was particularly excited to hear from him.

“Are you guys interested in hearing the truth or the fabricated one?” asked Sam.

“Of course the truth.” I requested him.

You know guys…if you are a little courageous to brace some inconvenient truth then please tell the owner of this farm that his method of farming (both mangoes and fishes) are hurting his business.

“And what makes you think so Sam,”I asked him.

Look, I have a limited knowledge of the business. Yet, one thing I know for sure is the dynamics of demand and supply. Mango is a seasonal fruit. But, people having deep pockets are willing to pay a premium price for non-seasonal availability. So, catering to their demand makes business sense.

Similarly, instead of having a big pond for fish harvesting, he should have multiple ponds of smaller sizes. Where each pond should breed specific species of fishes catering to the preferences of different customers. No need for partial harvesting.

I don’t know about Sam’s father, but I was not expecting this. Eleven-year-old, Sam happened to be a huge fan of the television series Shark Tank. And I felt so stupid. Because,

“If I think I have an answer for every question, it’s time to think again.”

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