As a child I’d be ticked off if the phrases ‘I’m starving’, ‘I’m bored’, or ‘I want’ ever passed my lips.
‘You’re not starving, you’re hungry’, my mum would chide.
Technically correct of course. But you don’t tend to think about food in relation to third world starvation when you’re six. Usually just where your next tube of Smarties is coming from.
‘Only boring people get bored’ was another message I had drummed into me from an early age.
And at this time of year I’d frequently be told ‘It’s “I would like” not “I want”.’
Every child has about 50 toys currently scribbled on their Christmas list.
To parents, that flimsy, brightly-coloured piece of plastic might look like the most extraordinarily useless bit of tat.
But when you’re an egocentric nipper – high on a double dose of too much sugar and Yuletide excitement – it’s tempting to think that it’s your birth right to receive everything your little heart desires.
Thankfully, I had my mum to bring me down with a bump. And I was reminded of what I learned about grasping materialism recently, when I saw a TV guide to a bizarre character trait the jolly presenter kept referring to as pester power. Apparently it’s big right now.
This festive feature included three youngsters doing a manic grab-and-run. Computer games were thrust at mum along with the dreaded words – I want.
To everyone else, this is called having a whiny kid. But the way this presenter kept banging on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that pestering could actually bring the world to its knees, when in reality it’s quite easy to ignore.
Perhaps shopping centre grottos can help parents who do find it difficult by only employing bad-tempered Santas who understand where I’m coming from.
No-one wants to approach Christmas feeling like Scrooge but ‘I want doesn’t always get’ isn’t a bad motto to live your life by at any time of the year.
Frankly, there’s a lot of things I want. And some of them are more meaningful than thinner legs and Daniel Craig in his swim shorts.
But life’s not like that and the sooner future generations realise that, the better.