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Let’s talk about guilt.  Guilt that you just can’t give your kids everything, even though you wish you could.  Zack was just playing one of his favorite online web sites, Club Penguin, and he called me in a panic.  He showed me some features of the game that he was not permitted to use because I “didn’t afford” them.  Those were his words, not mine.  Not knowing what else to say, I apologized to him, but I’m not sure that was the right move.

You see, a while back, I paid the $8 monthly membership fee for about two months.  However, since I have been out of work for 15 months, my finances have been unpredictable, to say the least.  When I was in school, I would get a “refund” from my grant/loans that my school did not need for tuition, so sometimes I had a little bit of “living” money.  It was after one of those times that I paid for that two month membership for him…but the rest of that money went towards bills and expenses like gas, so it has been gone for some time now.

I did recently get my tax refund, and soon after learned that I had been hired as a food and nutrition sub for a school district about 30 minutes away.  Both were welcome blessings, but after paying off a couple of debts, 2/3 of my tax refund is gone, and I found out the pay schedule for my new job is going to leave me in quite a bind until the month of April.  (The job only pays once per month, and I came in at the end of a pay period, so my first check will be near the middle of March for about $30.  I won’t see my next check until almost the middle of April.)  So the little bit that I have left from my tax return has to go to gas and childcare.  Honestly, I’m not sure if it will stretch far enough, but I am going to do my very best to make it.

Maybe I shouldn’t feel guilty that I can’t pay a monthly subscription fee for an online game.  Maybe I should have warned Zack that I was not able to keep paying the fee.  Maybe I shouldn’t have apologized to him at all, since that may contribute to him possibly being spoiled beyond repair.  Or maybe all of these issues are minor concerns in comparison to the big picture.  After all, our basic needs are all covered.  We live rent & utility free with my mother, our food is paid for thanks to government assistance (judge if you will, but over the past 15 months I have applied to every position I could find – yes, even McDonald’s, interviewed for jobs, and asked around…I needed all the help I could get), and even our pets are well cared for, also thanks to my mother.  After being out of work for so long, I am finally employed, even if my finances will still be tight for a few weeks.  For a single mother, my life really isn’t so bad, and neither is my son’s.

So I ask you: should I feel guilty for not providing extra entertainment to a child who is probably already over-stimulated with television and internet?