The experience economy: a desired ride on this specific Central Park horse and carriage.

The experience economy: a desired ride on this specific Central Park horse and carriage.

It didn’t take much for Calvin to grasp that lists, which he encourages me to add things to, could apply to, say, upcoming birthday wishes. This weekend he sat me down for a serious discussion. “Mama,” he said, holding both my hands in his, “Do you know what I think I need?” Having no idea what could be coming next, I confessed to having no idea, to which the less-pint-sized person declared, “I need to take a horse and carriage ride. Very soon. And for a l-o-o-o-n-g time.”

The request was spurred by a ride we took with my mom when she was in town. So I explained these were rare, perhaps only annual treats, and rather costly. He wasn’t deterred. “Oh,” he said. “For Christmas.” At which I nodded. Then he beamed, “And my birthday?!” Now I’m sure he doesn’t know that his birthday happens once a year, only that it may be an occasion involving presents.

Since then he hasn’t been shy about sharing opinions about the items that comprise his little hearts desire. Did I know, for example, that our train set up is criminally devoid of various Thomas the Tank Engine accoutrements? Like, for example, Cranky the Crane that (curse them) the Hallmark store we walk past every morning has prominently displayed.

At bedtime last night, he pointed out that our Monsieur/Madame book collection comprised a paltry three of the 40+ books. (These are the French versions of the Mr. Men books.) I had to endure a painstaking pointing out of each of the characters about whose quirks and days we knew, precisely nothing, because, you know, we don’t have them.  (Pointed stare.)

Also recently referenced was a particular construction set he’d seen in the preschool class. He’s dying to construct something, or if necessary take something apart. Plus, did I remember that he had let me assist him in the construction of his new bed… which, come to think of it, had a little problem that, given a screwdriver and allen key, he’d be happy to adjust. And was I aware that there are such things as construction sets with “tools that go”? Oh boy!

This past weekend when we were discussing some of the toys he was ageing out of, he demonstrated the skills of a seasoned diplomat agreeing that some of the toys were perhaps due to make someone else happy and, come to think of it, would need to move to make space for the push scooter and bicycle he was going to get. Excuse me? This was the first I had heard about either of these items. Perhaps we ought to deploy him  to Pyongyang!

We have had numerous discussions about the difference between needs (shelter, safety, clean drinking water, food, clothes) versus wants (everything else, of which he has in abundance.) Obviously a more effective offensive needs to be mounted. (One shudders to imagine what he would come up with if he watched TV!.) Until then, I’m practising my negotiation skills, especially being pan faced when I tell him that I wasn’t thinking of getting him anything for his birthday as his cup already runneth over.

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