“Girl you want this bag?” the woman asked in an irritated voice as she glared down at the small child standing near her.

The child shook her head slowly and pointed to a pink one, instead of the dark coloured one the woman was suggesting.

“You know how you does get you bag. By the time the first week done the bag done black, black, is every week I guh gaffo scrub the bag,” the woman responded, her tone growing angrier with every second.

As she spoke the last words I could see that the little girl was close to tears. I looked at the mother and she glared at me, but I smiled, and it appeared to soften her mood.

“You know how these children does always fret you when is school time,” she said as we stood in the Regent Street store.

I nodded in agreement and I was not pretending to understand as I had my younger son in tow just to ensure that I purchased the bag he wanted. I wanted no drama.

“When we de small we couldn’t dare tell we parents what we want. Sometimes it was hand-me-down, and we couldn’t say anything,” the woman continued, jolting me from my train of thought.

“I don’t want buy this pink bag because the last time I buy one I use to shame sometimes how she use to get it and especially if I ain’t had the time to scrub it every weekend,” she said.

I told her I understood what she was saying, but eventually she succumbed and purchased the pink bag for the child. The child left the store happily with the pink bag tucked underneath her arm.

As they left I wondered why we as parents give in so often to our children. Is it because we don’t want to hear their protestations? Or because we want to keep a smile on their faces? I have seen the tears when the word ‘no’ is uttered but sometimes I don’t allow it to move me, because I am aware that children use this as a weapon to ensure they get they want.

I thought of what the woman told me earlier about not being allowed to pick our back-to-school items when we were small and having to use hand-me-downs. I think that because I have used so many hand-me-downs and I can still recall vividly how I felt, I don’t give such to my children. What I have done though is allow them to return with items from the previous year once they are in good condition. Let’s say it was done with a little protestation.

That being said, however, I wonder how we as parents strike the balance when it comes to our children’s demands especially when it is time to return to school. I am well aware sometimes that going back to school is not at the top of the list for some children and parents attempt to generate the excitement through school supplies.

I asked a friend about this.

“How is it when you are buying school supplies?” I asked her.

“Girl every year is a headache and you know I don’t work for a million dollars and is four a them I get, so it does really be hard for me,” she responded. “Sometimes I does wish they could use back the stuff from before but to be honest they does be so cheap that they does hardly last till the year done. But me, I don’t let them children run me battery, they know the order whatever I say goes.”

I asked her if she does not allow them to pick out the colour and maybe size once it is in the same price range.

“If deh around yes but sometimes as soon as I get the money I just go out and buy because I want get it out of the way. And sometimes is a freebie, they have to take it and say thank God because at least then I don’t have to study about that one thing.

“Look, let me tell you, is a struggle. They know they father not around and he does only show up like Santa Claus once in a while. All the other time is just me and them and while it is not so I want it, that is how it is and I can’t cry forever,” she added.

I asked her about accepting used things for the children and she shared my sentiments.

“I don’t accept old things for my children don’t matter how good a condition it in. Girl, I remember. I had enough a them thing and I don’t want it for my children. At least let them feel nice they have new things even though it might be cheap they know is them own and it was not somebody own before,” she answered.

I thought about what and wondered about parents who may have the same sentiment but are forced to accept the hand-me-downs because they cannot do better. I also thought about the children who are forced to use such items. It is one thing when it is from a sibling, and even then it is horrible for some children, but it is a totally different thing when the item comes from outside of the home.

School re-opens tomorrow, and I know the struggle parents, especially women, are forced to endure as we attempt to equip our children for the new school year. I agree that we should strike a balance, but not allow our children to control us while we struggle to purchase items at exorbitant prices. I would strongly suggest that once we can afford it, we should equip our children with new things or if the items from the previous year are in good condition then give those to them.

I understand that in some cases parents cannot help it because of their financial struggles, but once it could be avoided don’t go down the route of taking hand-me-downs. I think I speak for all children when I say it makes them feel less than or conjures up some negative thoughts.

Wishing all children a safe return to school. Remember the world is there to conquer, just buckle down and do what needs to be done.

If you wish to share your experience with Women’s Chronicles please email me at samantha_alleyne2000 @yahoo.com.

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