I think we’re inherently materialistic. It’s simple. You can’t see or hear or touch what people are thinking. But when you see food, you know it’s meant to be eaten.
My daughter is 19-month-old (okay, almost 20-month-old), and she’s obsessed about shoes. (Dom’t look at me. I wear a pair of simple black shoes when I go out, and change into slippers when I come home. No pumps.) When we’re home, she would literally pull one of our slippers off our foot and proceed to wear one on her own foot. She would not let us take the other one off, either. Letting the victim keep one of the slippers seems to agree with her justice system.
The other day, we thought, maybe the obsession with Mom’s and Dad’s slippers had to do with the fact she didn’t have slippers to wear at home, only socks. So we bought her a pair of clogs this past weekend for her to wear at home. Well, first she had to wear them even while we were in the store. And now when we’re home she insists that I wear one of her clogs (only three toes can fit in), while she wears the other (the size disparity hasn’t quite register with her cognitive system yet). And, boy, would she throw a fit whenever we need to go out and need to put “going-out shoes” on her.
This reminded me of my own obsession with watches though. I was in the third grade, and some of my friends had started wearing watches. I thought it was so pretty and so grown up. On the way to my grandparents’ there was a watch shop, and I always asked my parents for permission to run ahead whenever we visited the grandparents – so I could stand in front of the shop window and dreamed of which watch I would wear when I grew up. I even taught my younger sister matter-of-factly: “Watches are better than bracelets, because they’re not only pretty, but they can also tell time.” (At least they don’t poke your eyes out like a Red Ryder B B Gun would.)
I think kids first develop physical sense of ownership. Abstract concepts such as relationships would have to come later.