For the last few days, Child #1 has been tailing me around the house asking me to purchase for him some virtual currency used in the video-game world he inhabits one-to-two hours each day. It is a tiny little piece of hell in a dark corner of the internet known as Roblox – and my kid wants “Robux” to spend on things like virtual shirts, pants and hats.
“Why don’t you go and EARN some Robux and stop asking me to BUY them for you,” I have said now about 20 times in the past 72 hours. “I am already spending $12 a month for you to have a membership on that site. I am not spending anymore.”
“I can’t!” he cries, with no other real argument to back that up. “Please! I really want this special hat! My character won’t look cool without it!!”
“Let’s sit down and do some research,” I finally say. “How does one earn Robux? How can we earn you enough to buy that hat?” (*Side note: If anyone reading this knows a damn thing about Roblox and wants to tell me how I can get this child some Robux, please divulge. I sure as hell have no idea.)
After many long minutes navigating the site, and several other long minutes spent watching YouTube videos claiming to have “tips” but actually reveal nothing, I am ready to give in.
“How much does this hat cost?” I ask as we log back into his account.
He shows me the price list of how much virtual currency costs on the site, and then how much the hat he wants to buy will cost in Robux. I am not kidding when I tell you that this hat – this virtual hat that actually doesn’t exist – other than on a computer game – costs $200. No, not 200 Robux. 200 bonafide U.S., American-President-style dollars. 200 clams. 200 smackeroos. I am floored.
“You’re joking….” I say to him. “No way. Never going to happen.”
Silently I run through any recent clothing purchases of my own that might have even come close to $200. Frankly, I can’t think of any. Perhaps the last winter coat I purchased a few seasons ago? It occurs to me my last big handbag/purse purchase was a nice Michael Kors bag that was more than $200 – but, c’mon: It is a bag I can actually touch, feel and use. I will have it for years. We are talking about a VIRTUAL hat here.
Then, the tears begin. Dear lord, not this.
When you’re a working mother, as I am, you’re often busy and not often in the mood to deal with this sort of stuff. You want your free time with your children to be fun and rewarding – not focused on the negative. But the upside is if you work hard and make a good living, as I do, you can often throw money at the problem/issue/whininess to make it go away. The downside is you can often throw money at the problem/issue/whininess to make it go away.
As the tears flow, I realize I have done this far too many times. I am the worst. I suck at parenting. I have created a 2012 version of Augustus Gloop. Although tall and skinny because, unlike Augustus, he could care less about food, still yet a self-indulged whiner who expects to get just about anything he wants. A child who breaks down in Target because he wants new swim goggles, even though he already has a pair of swim goggles that are mere months old and work just fine. A kid who cries when Mom says no to a $200 pretend hat.
It’s official – I am going to parenting hell.
Where is parenting hell? It is a place where adolescent children go to therapists and tell them they feel “hollow inside” because Mom never let me “accomplish anything on my own” and are then given antidepressants to continue to not accomplish anything on their own. The next level of parenting hell involves a 22-year-old adult child that drives a very loud Ford F-150 with a bumper sticker that says “Rehab is for quitters.”
It’s then that I decide this will be a teachable moment – and proceed to have what is possibly the most absurd discussion about pride, work and reward that has ever been had with a child.
“You need to take the time to earn those Robux in order to buy that hat yourself,” I explain, almost visibly wincing at how stupid this sounds. Am I actually encouraging my kid to spend MORE time on a video game that I regularly ask him to stop playing because he is on it far too much already?
I try and reach back into my memory for some parallel from my own life about working, earning money and the rewards of accomplishing something. I remember feeling proud the first summer I had a waitressing job and had saved so much money I could afford to go back-to-school shopping and purchase things beyond the allowance my mother gave me. I remember the sense of accomplishment in saving for and buying my first car and having a job that allowed me to fill it with gas. Can I find any relationship between these experiences and the Roblox/Robux conundrum? Shit, I CAN’T!! I am BLOWING IT!! BLOWING IT!!!!!
“Mom, I’m sick of the computer. Can I go in the backyard and play?”
The backyard? What a novel concept!
“Absolutely,” I say. “You’ve earned it.”
My boys are into that Roblox too…… It’s ALL they want to do. I have to pry the computers from their hands. They haven’t asked to buy anything from the site.But to make you feel better, I spent WAY too much money on school shoes and backpacks yesterday. Needless to say my husband is not happy with me at this moment!!
Stacie: It’s hard to ride that fine line between allowance and indulgence!