From consumption to utopia? Reflections for parents…

From consumption to utopia? Reflections for parents…
Fecha de publicación: 
20 September 2017
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Do we make our children happier when we strive to fill them with beautiful and bright things? Or are we creating fictitious needs that can always be sources of frustration?

After buying the princess covers or minions, the nylon rolls that are only enough for six notebooks and cost one dollar, the geometric figures printed on cardboard, the Disney markers plasticised so they last the whole academic year, apron, the supports and the doily, also plasticised and with fashionable dolls, wipes and napkins that match with the rest of the set and are practically the same as those of the other children, the puppet and even the plant already sown in a condensed milk tin, you feel relieved, since you have almost everything “necessary” to begin the school year, but at the same time, you know you will have to tighten your belt the whole month, because you don’t even want to think about how much money has gone, and suddenly, you miss your grandma…

Those times when granny used to sew....

....the aprons with any piece of cloth, improvised a remnant puppet and made a little tablecloth for us, less sophisticated than the Frozen doilies or McQuin Ray, but one-of-a-kind and touched by the grace of her skillful and tender hands.

Those times when the students cared about the content of the books and notebooks, which were very happy covered with Russian magazines, cat wrapping papers or with some invention from the great artist of the family, my mother, for example, she used to scrape crayon colors on a sheet of white paper (poster, calendar at hand), melted that with the iron and obviously, I took the latest in production to school.

The supports? They were always big, not the size of a letter-type sheet, a cardboard box open or covered by the most careful member of the family, with little figures cut from some book and the final touch, a nylon that I actually do not remember where it came from. The markers, of course: cardboard strips with the respective tip at the end and if you drew them with felt-tip pens, they were a success, but you were not diminished if you took them colored with colored pencils or even in white.

And what to say about “lunch boxes”, our lunch boxes were cloth bags that are soaked with the sweating from the water bottle (almost never a thermos flask), but we all had more or less the same ones and our parents managed to prevent our bread from getting wet, not to mention they lasted the whole school year.

Tell me the truth, how many backpacks did you use in elementary school? I do not remember exactly, but I can swear that I did not have a new one every year, sometimes not because of the lack of money or offers in stores, but because almost anybody dared to wonder whether that of the previous year was “suitable” or it was necessary to buy another for next September.

Men do not have time to know anything; they buy things from markets....

Thanks to life, there aren’t friends markets yet, and children are still forced to exercise their charms to make friends the first day at school, but I would not be surprised that in the next few years someone will get a licence to set up a friends workshop, juicy enrolment involved, and so they would reach school with their assigned friends.

All of us who are parents today can remember how much we enjoyed that “doing” things together as a family, surely you would be thinking, like me, about some of the many inventions which our parents, uncles, aunts and relatives made us happy with, or the times you shared in the last days of your vacation helping to prepare everything for school.

And that is the first bitter taste I keep after letting myself be dragged, at times, into this bad copy of consumer societies, where there is no time to know or do and the only path is to buy: What are we teaching our children? Are we making them happier by filling them with beautiful and bright things? Or rather are we creating fictitious needs that can always be sources of frustration, complex and discrimination?

Let the vase be but the flower ...

Finally Marti, wise, shakes me in time, shakes me with that phrase he wrote to his beloved child. "A lot of shop little soul", he warned, "who carries a lot inside needs little outside" ... The school year has just begun and in Cuban schools our children have uniforms accessible to all, free school materials and books, the same teacher for those who carry the Mickey Mouse backpack and those who prefer a simpler and more economic one. Parents should think, and I include myself, about what they really need to learn and grow, and should not entangle them or entangle us with superficialities.

Like everyone, of course I enjoy meeting my children’s tastes and have nothing against beautiful and attractive things, I only wonder about the false need and the unbridled eagerness to have them. "I understand it, but if mine does not wear or carry it they look at him badly", a friend tells me truthfully, I too have gotten myself into this type of anxiety, but what if we save ourselves, look well once and recover the essential thing, is it a utopia?

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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