I like to believe I am a fair mum, so as much as possible when I can, I give my girls options. “Would you like to wear this pink shirt or that purple one? Would you like Vegemite or peanut butter on your toast? Would you like to colour the bird or the house?”
You see fair … options abound. This leads inevitably to frustration for mum. Sometimes they take agonisingly long to choose and yet (patient mother that I am) I still persist. But the phenomenon I find most frustrating is when they choose an option that wasn’t given. “I’ll wear a dress, I’ll have jam on my toast, oh and I really would prefer to colour the walls!” (That last one is obviously a joke , my kids never tell me when they are going to colour my walls!)
But it’s got me thinking, how often are we as adults given two options and we want to choose the third, that is not available? How often do we look at the perfectly good choices before us and want to create another? How often do we want to take control? How often are we not satisfied with the selection we are presented?
I know we live in a society that thrives on choice, that having options is seen as a necessary part of our daily life. Yet sometimes I wonder, if there really were only a few options would we be any less happier, less content. If we could only have tea or coffee, and Chai Latte didn’t exist, would we even mind?
The trap for me seems to be knowing that there is another option out there, and yet not being offered it. Restricted choice makes us wonder what we are missing out on, what else might be on offer. Maybe sometimes restricted choice is good for us. Because in fact we didn’t really want the Chai Latte, but we choose it simply because it wasn’t offered.