"Wow, Dad. You wouldn't believe the stuff my friend has! He's got a computer, a cell phone, a digital camera, an iPod and a huge TV in his room! And they're all just for him!"
My oldest daughter told me this breathlessly upon returning from a playdate at the home of a new friend from school. I knew I would have to deal with this subject eventually. I just didn't know that it would begin in 1st grade!
We are part of the 99 percent -- a family of limited means living in a sea of wealth. We live in Marin County and since my children began elementary school, our children's friends span the gamut of the economic haves and have-nots. Some of their friends live in apartments while others live in mansions. Occasionally, these contrasts can be grating and even painful for my entire family.
I explained to my daughter in age-appropriate language that we simply do not have the money to buy all of those things that she wants.
"I know that you want all that stuff, but you don't need it," I said.