Madonna turned the term "Material Girl" into a memorable household phrase in 1984 - the year I was born. I have to admit, the song is that darn good that it's still catchy. But in real life, a.k.a. the real world, are material things the quick fix to solve unhappiness?
So many things have changed since I was a little kid. I know I use the word "things" as a general description for just about everything in society, but like I said, just about everything - whether it be cars, electronics, video games or even childrens toys - has changed to some degree.
I had a giant collection of Barbie dolls when I was little. Along with the number of headless plastic bodies, I had matching outfits for Barbie's every occasion, and Barbie's plastic high heels that always went missing in the couch cushions. Did I mention my Barbie also had a sky blue Cadillac? Barbie was so sophisticated riding around in her Cadillac. I envied her because she had something I didn't.
I'll admit it, I always wanted one of those Fisher-Price battery powered riding toys - a Barbie Convertible to be exact. If my Barbie was allowed to have a Cadillac, why couldn't my parents buy me a Barbie Convertible to match?
Jeremy, my fiance, has a little 2-year-old cousin who has a little battery powered four-wheeler. He rides that thing like a professional - like it is his job to whip around trees and chase the dogs at 5 miles an hour. When he's not looking, however, I'll hop on it and drive around in the yard just as I would if I were to be so lucky to have one at his age.
I begged and pleaded with my parents every day when I was about three or four years old, and especially near Christmas, the Tiny Tim song and dance became readily apparent. But the convertible never came, and now I'm riding on a two-year-old boy's battery powered vehicle to get a quick fix of childhood.
What exactly do you learn from a battery powered riding vehicle? You learn how to move a steering wheel back and forth, and I suppose one can learn how to push a little button that puts the convertible into reverse.
Did I mention, this toy will make you the MOST POPULAR kid on the block? Alas, I was never the most popular kid. I've come to terms with that. But, if you can get over not being the most popular kid on the block, later in life you'll become pretty humble with yourself.
I thought maybe it was that Barbie was older, married to Ken and was successful in all of her business endeavors. No. That wasn't it. Simply put, Barbie dolls were cheaper and my parents didn't have the extra cash to buy me a Barbie Convertible. Or, perhaps my parents simply thought a Barbie Convertible was a "material" thing and I would gain no value from it.
Emma is growing up fast and some day she will be asking for her own battery powered riding vehicle. Maybe it will be a Barbie Convertible or maybe it will be the four-wheeler. If I follow the same philosophy as my mother, who always proclaimed, "Well, I never had that when I was little, so it looks like you aren't getting one either!" - it looks like Emma is doomed.
Then again, who knows, maybe Jeremy and I will splurge, get her a Barbie Convertible and then I can live vicariously through her. Somewhere down the road she can eventually take me for "a-material, a-material" ride in the backyard. I'm grinning as I think about it.
Sentinel reporter Tara Maguire welcomes advice and parenting stories at firstname.lastname@example.org