The socioeconomic implications of training unders

Since being on meds, I don’t blog as much. I have a hard time getting into the zone, probably because these meds keep me from spiraling into anything. My best analogy so far is that being on them is like wearing floaties in a pool – you’re still in the water and you can swim underwater for a bit if you really try, but you can’t go too deep or stay too long. It’s nice and less dangerous than the alternative, though it can be a bit frustrating not to experience the sinking free fall every sometimes.

I haven’t yet bought Javi’s training pants for school, having gotten mired in the socioeconomic implications. His teacher recommended Gerber training pants: cheap and loosely woven, they’re easy to pull on and take off. HOWEVER, owing largely to the prevalence of disposable training pants like Pull-ups and the increasing age and weight at which children are potty-trained, I can’t find them locally in the 18 month size that fits my little dude’s little rabbit booty. I could order online, but once I start looking online, the possibilities widen.

Possibilities and comparing them are my Kryptonite.

For inexplicable reasons, I want don’t want white undies. For the (horrid ridiculously marked up) price I’d pay for the cheap Gerbers online, I’m in the same ballpark as these organic hippie-friendly kind from Hanna Anderssen. Good gawd, I love me some baby-in-real-people-style-clothing.

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So just spend a hundred bucks and order a dozen of those, right? I just spent twice that on supplies for my latest furniture-building extravaganza (a toddler bench for dressing, a train table, and a cat tree for the garage).

Except….

I feel a responsibility to the children whose parents can’t afford twice-as-expensive training pants to buy the cheap ones!

Flashback: while we weren’t poor growing up, we had to watch our spending. We didn’t go on family ski vacations, have an unlimited “stuff” budget, or buy the brand-name versions of things. It was okay. My friends’ families were all in roughly the same socioeconomic situation. We all wore Payless shoes and went to the city-sponsored camps in the summer and lived in the same neighborhood.

Back to the present: we were offered the option of using a cloth diaper service through the school to handle the dirty undies. “The added cost will be $30.” Still living in the week-by-week world of daycare, I assumed that was per week and was still willing. Later I found out that a) out of fourteen families, only two of us would have opted in and b) it was PER MONTH. I was stunned. The teacher was too, but remarked that many of the families make sacrifices so their kids can attend the school, so perhaps even $30 more a month was more than they were willing to take on.

I think, I want my child to have the best we can afford – as I think all parents do – but then I realize I really don’t believe that. I want my son to have what’s good enough. I want him to know cost versus benefit. I want him to recognize that we live a privileged life, what with the spur of the moment decisions to buy train sets and new shoes and animal figurines, and to be aware that not everyone does.

I don’t need him to be grateful or thankful, but I do need him to be aware.

We have what I’d consider name-brand baby clothes but usually second-hand and never full price. His room is a mix of the relatively expensive ($70 changing pad) and DIY’d and cheap (crib sheets made out of $5 bed sheets). At 33, I’m still learning where to spend money for a brand or alleged quality and when to buy what works, but I don’t think it’s too early to set a good example

And so, I can’t figure out what to buy him. Organic (adorable) training pants that’ll hold up for a year or more or the cheap mass-produced kind that I’ll probably have to replace more than once? Keen rubber rain boots (because they supposedly stay on better) or the $15 ones from Babies R Us? The name brand nap mat or one I make myself, albeit probably with organic batting and designer fabric? I’m lost in my principles, trying to find a balance between them all. I hate to replace things that fall apart, hate to spend more than I need to, hate to feel like I’ve forgotten where I came from.

I feel as guilty buying the high-end kid stuff as I did when I first started buying organic food, like I’m abandoning the 12-year old who couldn’t have afforded it and would have thus declared it not desirable anyway. Irrational? Yes, but it keeps me grounded, too.

This whole thing is silly, I know, and yet it doesn’t feel too silly. So, I procrastinate.

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One thought on “The socioeconomic implications of training unders

  1. Buy the Gerber but dye them, like you did his swaddle blankets. It’s a compromise.

    I fully understand you though. My husband and I work hard so that we can spoil our Bug when appropriate. He’s only 11 months old but I want him to understand the value of things and not feel entitled. I dislike entitled people. When Bug is older, he’s going to have to work for the things he wants. I’m not sure what this all looks like but I want him to be considerate of finances for the different people he will meet.

    I was fortunate to grow up like you did while my husband is from a very poor single family. We both have worked hard for what we have and are doing pretty good. I think between the two of us he will be able to experience both sides of need vs want. A visit to his cousins in New Mexico or his grandparents on the reservation will really open his eyes to how blessed he truly is.

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