Almost Syndrome

Posted by on October 11, 2010

My daughter wants a skateboard for Christmas. She has quad skates, inline skates, a Razor scooter and of course, a bike and she’s good on all of them so it doesn’t surprise me that she wants a skateboard now and really, I’m happy to get her one. Anything that keeps my kids off the couch is a big fat win in my book.

So I start poking around on the internet to see what’s out there and um…I’m clueless. I’m pretty sure I’ve never ever felt more like a dumb mom than right now. I mean I don’t intend to run out and get her the baddest,  most expensive board out there but holy crap on a Cadillac, there are just so many options and prices, I don’t even know where to start (although something tells me the $30 skateboard from the big box store should definitely be avoided).

Back in the day, about eleventy seven years, I had a skateboard and it was PLASTIC. Red plastic. I came home from summer camp one year and my mom had it waiting for me which hello? It’s AWESOME to come home from 4 weeks at camp and have a present waiting for you! But my mom was always cool like that.

Anyway, as I was saying…it was plastic, which was not uncommon for the department store level skateboard back then and I rode it all the time. It was fine. My friends and I, in our own sheltered suburbanite way, didn’t know any better. And at our age, which was maybe ten-ish, we weren’t hanging out with any future Tony Hawk-types or anything so the no-name red plastic skateboard was perfectly fabulous.

But a few years later, after my mom died and I went to live with my dad and stepmom, I became acutely aware of what I call “Almost Syndrome.” No offense to my parents, because with three kids between them, they had to buy us a lot of shit (in addition to their boats, vacation properties etc *eyeroll*) but here’s how it would go…

I’d ask for something for my birthday or Christmas and instead of getting me what I asked for—i.e. a boombox with TWO speakers because those were all new and hot back then— I got the smaller, lamer one-speaker boombox.

Yes, it served it’s purpose, allowing me to listen to the radio and hit “record” every time one of my fave songs came on the radio (God, I’m really dating myself here) so I could have a cassette mixtape full of awesome. BUT…it wasn’t what I asked for. it was ALMOST what I asked for; the lesser, the not-as-cool, the slightly embarrassing version of what I really wanted. There was no way I was carrying that thing around in public and thus it lived on my nightstand.

The “Almost Syndrome” was a regular occurrence and I got used to never getting the cool version of anything. I know I sound like a spoiled brat but you know how it is when you’re a kid. You don’t want to get called out for having something dorky or substandard or look like some kind of K-mart wannabe. That’s just how it is.

And so, that’s where I am with the skateboard. I don’t know if this will be something she sticks with or if it’s just a passing fancy, as so many things are with kids, but I don’t want to get her some lame thing that she will love until someone tells her what a hokey piece of junk it is. I also want something that, if and when she tires of it, she can pass on to her little brother, who will  probably want one, too. And although I’d rather not spend a ton of money, it’s not even about that. I just want to get her something that’s not dumb or almost but not quite…

I’d rather tell my kids no or to save up for what they want if it’s crazy expensive then get them something that will never see the light of day—I won’t be party to “Almost Syndrome.”

I know this is not the best parenting… I should be teaching them that not everything has to be top-shelf or designer or what have you and that labels aren’t important—and  *I* actually believe that— but I just can’t do almost because I’ve been there and it kind of sucks.


  • Jack says:

    I lived that Almost Syndrome too. Wasn’t always easy and there were times that I didn’t like it- but you can only do what you can do.

    • IzzyMom says:


      That’s true and if that happens to be the case, I’ll just tell my kids straight up that they can’t get exactly what they want. As for the skateboard, I don’t think either one of us has a clue. I’ll probably end up consulting the Twittersphere on that one.

      • Jack says:

        @IzzyMom, I laugh sometimes at discussions like this because I remember vowing never to turn my kids down. I don’t fault others, how they parent is their business. It is just funny sometimes how many things my parents said that turned out to be true. Who knew that they were so smart. ;)

  • Melody says:

    I totally get what you’re saying. BTDT!

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    I think a lot of parents rationalize the “almost” thing. My dad always thought it was fine, but my mom knew how important the “actual” thing was because of her “almost” experiences as a kid. Still, I got a lot of “almosts”, especially when the Barbie head came out. I got the mousy brown haired knock-off for Christmas. Even at 5, I could tell it sucked.

    As for the skateboard, our girl has the Barbie version. It wasn’t expensive and she didn’t end up using it much. Now she’s trying to figure out how to paint over the “Barbie”, which is textured like an emory board. I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Becky says:

    I grew up with Almost Syndrome. Dad was a preacher and they get paid less than teachers. And I was the oldest of three. I at least avoided hand-me-downs.
    My girls are learning to live with Almost syndrome. But I can blame it all on the fact that their dad doesn’t pay his child support. Is that bad parenting? (me blaming him. Him not supporting his kids CLEARLY is bad parenting).

  • BT says:

    I swore when I was a kid I’d never do that to my own. My kids are still very little so it’s easy. I don’t know what I’ll do when they are older and want stuff like iPods but I’m going to keep playing the lotto just in case.

  • R&R mommy says:

    “Almost” is the worst! I had to live it my whole life.
    My oldest has had to save up or wait for (birthday/Christmas) big label items his entire life so that he never has to settle or be embarrassed. 11 year age gap, I do it with my daughter too; even though life is way easier now.
    I still have animosity toward my mom, step dad and half sister for the “almost” years.
    Never settle, you get what you pay for; quality, gratitude and life lesson (see quality).

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