Tickle Me Happy

Posted by - November 14, 2011 | Category: Library

When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. (Apparently, that’s from the Bible). And I wanted childish things. I wanted sea monkeys and snow days. Naps and hockey cards. Stacks of hockey cards. I never put a lot of thought into money.

In hockey news last week, Pekka Rinna of the Nashville Predators was signed to a deal worth 49 million dollars over 7 years. 49 MILLION DOLLARS. That’s a lot of hockey cards. And it got me to thinking…

 Forty-nine million dollars is a lot of pocket money.

Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators

The Children’s Society in the UK recently completed a report detailing the well-being of children. The researchers asked 5000 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 what mattered to them most. The answers weren’t too surprising: iPods, designer trainers, cable TV, and “the right clothes” topped the list. And what was at number one? Pocket money. That one surprised me.

I can see why a kid would need some spending money, but for it to be number one caught me a little off-guard. Then I thought, kids need spending money for the same reasons adults need spending money — to fill the void. We’re all looking for the latest Tickle Me Elmo.

 That bigger, better toy.

tickle me elmoThe report also mentions that children feel they are missing out if they see their friends with possessions that they themselves do not have. They feel deprived. They feel like they don’t fit in. Sound like anyone you know? It’s keeping up with the Joneses, on an elementary school scale. 

Seems kids are more like adults than we give them credit for.

We’ve all been to school at some point in our lives, and we’ve all struggled with fitting in. Adult life for most is not that much different. We’re just bigger kids, with more expensive toys, trying to impress the other big kids on our block.

Instead of iPods, we want iPads.

Instead of Furbys, we want furs.

Instead of hockey cards, we want season’s tickets.

The writer Alain d Botton has a different take. He said,

“You know, we’re often told that we live in very materialistic times, that we’re all greedy people. I don’t think that we are particularly materialistic. I think we live in a society which has simply pegged certain emotional rewards to the acquisition of material goods. It’s not the material goods we want. It’s the rewards we want.”


I’d go even a step further. It’s not only the rewards we want, it’s the experiences those material possessions afford us. Whether shooting down that mountain with our overpriced ski equipment, or racing across the seas in a fully outfitted catamaran, it’s that “feeling” we’re after.

Whatever the underlying cause, it’s not all doom and gloom for kids though. In that same Children’s Society study, one thing that did make it in the Top 10 was a family vacation at least once a year.

There’s hope yet.

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22 comments - add one
  1. Interesting, Raymond — got me thinking about all of the rewards and experiences I’m always looking for. The final comment is hopeful, I think. Spending time with family and experiencing travel is a very good thing.

  2. Ah! Good perspective. We just might “guest post you” with this one.

    Our 8 year old nephew LOVES getting money. His response was so great to receiving it one time, that other family members have now started doing the same, giving him money.


    Nancy & Shawn

    1. I liked getting money as a kid too, but it certainly wasn’t number one on my list. I would have been happy with peppermint knobs. (Oh you know what I’m talking about!) 🙂

  3. Yey, Finland! That is our main export after all, hockey players! Anyways, there is certain feeling that you get from buying something, but you are right, mostly it is the feelings and experiences associated to the expensive things we want. Such a shame we are showing such a bad example for the kids, but like you said, maybe there is still hope!

  4. The problem is marketers have convinced us that purchasing and consumption are the key to our happiness.

    I love stuff but what I love more than stuff is the freedom of having everything I own fit into 2 bags and a backpack.

  5. Oh, this reminds me of the struggle I go through with raising my little boys. I believe in simplifying and spending time together instead of having things, but my older son honestly has more stuff than we know what to do with. Sad. But as your last line confirms, he’s happiest just being together with us.

  6. If you come to think about it, at the end of the day, it’s not the price , size or importance of the things we acquire that really matter, it’s the way we perceive them. Happiness is all in the mind.

  7. Good read, Raymond. I’ve never really been one to follow the pack when it comes to possessions. Moving to Asia 10 years ago, and eventually selling or giving everything away has made me question what I buy now. Although, I must admit I do own too many gadgets. When I was a kid all this stuff just didn’t exist and in my family (an many others) the disposable income to buy any of it wasn’t there either.

  8. When I was a kid, all I thought about was stocks and bonds. I may have been a little weird though. 😉

    I do find it sad that some kids “need” material items to fill the void. I try to look back and wonder if I was the same way when I was a kid. Peer pressure is a bitch and I think a lot of it comes down to that.

  9. Pocket money, as a child, equals freedom of choice. And, in urban environments, it equals the ability to get around, to get out, to do things. Not to mention, of course, the innocuous old-fashioned pleasures of comics and sweets.


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