September 02, 2013

We cannot afford “high class”

We were invited to a birthday party and on that day just as I was about to change, my daughter said to me ... “Daddy, we are going to a “high class” restaurant you know” ... she was hinting that I should dress up a bit and I answered cheekily ... “We cannot afford “high class you know”. My daughter gave me a blank stare ... she don’t understand what I meant, she was worried that I will go in my seasoned khaki pants, a fake sports shirt bought at my favorite pasar malam (night market) and my cheap pair of (dog chewed) sandals ... which is how I usually dress going out.
So, I did dress up a bit ... put on a weathered pair of jeans, a "still quite new wore a few times only” T-shirt I bought at a hypermarket (two CNYs ago) and my old pair of (Jusco Sale 70% discounted) sneakers ... really, that is me dressing up.

And indeed it was a “high class” restaurant ... I hope I did not “sutt lai” (embarrass) anyone.

Now, that is not what I intend to talk about here ... I am just giving a prelude to the term “high class”. What I want to talk about is managing the “high class” expectations of my kids.

You see, I am very reluctant to take my kids (or even let them go on invitations) to expensive fine dining restaurants or alfresco styled cafes or other swanky brasseries and bistros. We don’t need it ... more importantly, I don’t want my kids to be influenced by extravagance and overindulgence ... at least not until they make it out on their own. Even then, I hope they don’t get caught by the “high class” obsession ... getting into the habit of indulging on brands, trends and opulence ... hence that is why I am trying to manage their expectation now.

I once heard a mother telling her friends that she spent “kei pak mun che ma” (in Cantonese meaning a few hundred dollars only) on coloring and treatment for her daughter’s hair ... she sounded as if it is just small money out of the pocket. I am not against teenagers coloring their hair but spending “kei pak mun” to do it? That is not the way ... at least not for my kids. I am sure there are other “wallet friendly” options.

I can accept the need to pay several thousand dollars for a teenager’s dental braces but spending a few hundreds for a teenager’s hair coloring and treatment ... that is outlandish. I don’t think a teenage girl should be given that kind of luxury.

People tell me about birthday parties for their kids that cost several thousand dollars held at “high class” outlets. If these people tell me they are more than willing to spend thousands of dollars on good and proper education for their kids and maybe many times more when their kids are at tertiary level, I will be very happy for them but splashing thousands of dollars for a birthday do ... that is definitely out of the way for me. I think celebrations can be held in a simple and meaningful manner with those that matter most to you.

Some parents talked about their kids getting onto programs and getting involved in organizations to help the poor and unfortunates ... they tell me how their kids will learn to be a better person when they (their kids) witness how deprived and underprivileged the very poor people live. But on the other hand, I see the very same parents allowing their kids to live in extravagance, indulging in lavishness spending that directly contradicts every single word that they told me. Let me say this ... if their kids really did witness, learned and understood how important a few dollars can be to a very poor family, these kids will NEVER want their parents to spend hundreds of dollars just to do up their hair.

Call me old fashion or call me a “kedekut” (stingy) ... my kids can live comfortably learning to manage what they have and how they should spend. If they decide to go for good food, they have to settle for Jin Nan Fish Ball Noodle, State Wanton Mee, Ah Wa Hokkien Mee, Fatty Mee Hoon Kueh, Klang Bak Kut Teh, Chuan Kee Chicken Rice and the likes ... NOT the likes of Ole Ole Bali @ Kiara, Alexis @ BSC, Genji @ Hilton or Garibaldi @ Bangsar ... not even on special occasions.

I am not saying we have to live like a pauper ... I just don’t want my kids to think about Starbucks when they want a cup of coffee ... Starbucks is not a place for coffee ... it is place to for those who want “to be seen”. At their age, they don’t need the latest smart phones nor do they need on-the-go online access. If they want internet access they can wait till they get home ... we have high speed wifi at home ... THAT is already a luxury.

So, to my darling daughter (and my dear son), when you read this ... I hope you can understand what I meant when I said we cannot afford “high class”.


Anonymous said...

hi shiek,

i always enjoy ur postings. think we have same mindset perhaps. i find that whatever you mention is rational and it applies to me too. keep up the postings and i"ll be reminded on live values ;)


Stone Shiek said...

Hi HL ...I am glad we share some common views ... perhaps we live by some of the same life values.

Thanks for spending time on my blog :)

Regards Shiek