I am probably behind the times because the first time I heard the words “silly bands” was about two weeks ago, when my daughter asked me why she didn’t have them. I asked her what she meant and she told me that EVERYONE in her kindergarten class had silly bands and she really wanted some. I truly had no idea what she was talking about but she did her best to describe them to me. It wasn’t immediately clear why “rubber bands which are different colors and some are sparkly and some smell funny and they are really cool” was such a special thing that everyone had it, but I told my daughter that she didn’t have them because I’d never seen them before.
“Well, can you please get me some, mama?” she asked, eagerly, “because I really really really want some.”
This isn’t the first time that our kiddo has come home asking for something she saw other kids playing with or eating. I get it, it’s totally normal. When it’s a fairly unreasonable request, like say, Oreos every day for lunch or sneakers without laces when she already has a perfectly good pair for this year (albeit with laces), it’s easy to decide what to do (sorry, kiddo, but no.) But most of her requests are not unreasonable at all, including the one for some of these silly bands. I was buying a birthday gift for one of her friends a few days after she asked for the bands and saw a huge display of them in the store. A few bucks for a pack of colorful rubber bands didn’t seem like a big deal but I paused: Should I be getting her something just because (1) she wants it and (2) she wants it because everyone else in the class has it?
I’ve written here before about my constant vigilance to make sure that we’re not raising an entitled spoiled kid and in general, I feel like we strike a decent balance between saying no and saying yes. But when it comes to requests that are heavily influenced by what her friends have at school, I find that I hesitate more than at other times. I want her to understand that just because others have something doesn’t mean that she has to have it — silly bands today, fancy jeans/cars/houses tomorrow. But I also don’t want to overdo it: Just because her friends have something shouldn’t mean that she can’t have it.
I got her a package of Silly Bandz and she was thrilled when I gave them to her. A few days later she “casually” mentioned that a few friends had “TONS!” of them and she only had a few, to which I responded with raised eyebrows, my universal sign to her that this isn’t going to be a successful argument to make. (The following day she told me that one of her friends didn’t have any Silly Bandz and she gave her one of hers. I’m not going to hide the fact that I was totally proud.)
How do you deal with your kids asking for stuff that their friends have? Where do you draw the line between not spoiling them too much and not giving them too little?