There are definitely times when I am 100% positive that my kids are spoiled rotten. Like stinking-I-didn’t-even-OPEN-all-of-my-presents-last-year-rotten. True story – sad, but true. Then there are the other times…which are few and far between, but totally make me feel like I’m doing some good as a mother.
Yesterday, I was sitting in the living room floor working on my coupons. I was removing all the ones that had expired over the last week, and clipping the new ones from my Sunday paper. Jax was chilling in his Boppy pillow beside me, happily playing with is new favorite toy – his hands – and Jenna was sitting on the floor “helping” me. She really wanted to work the scissors for me, but was too lazy to run upstairs and get her kid-safe scissors and I wasn’t about to let her loose with my sharp kitchen shears! I’m happily clipping coupons and answering the 25 million questions that an eight year old can think of in the span of ten minutes when we started talking about Christmas.
It seemed to me that she was seeing a lot of things in the ads that she “wanted” so I suggested to her that she start her Christmas Wish List a little early this year. I know that we’ve got lots of Grandmas who need ideas…not to mention Mom needs some ideas too! She immediately got pencil and paper and set herself to her task. Like I said, I thought that she was finding plenty in the store ads to begin her list, so imagine my surprise when I see her only write down three or four things.
I asked her what she’d gotten written down so far, and wouldn’t you know it – there wasn’t a single thing on her list for her. She had listed a movie (How to Train your Dragon) for Brent, some game for Tanner’s PSP, a pretty dress that I had seen at JCP for me and was busily trying to find something in one of the ads for Jax when I stopped her. I tried to explain that this was supposed to be HER list…that these were things for other people, and I needed to know what SHE wanted…she said that she understood, but what made her most happy was everyone else getting what they wanted.
I completely stopped for a minute. My first thought? Who are you and what have you done with MY kid? You know, the one that always wants more…that gets dinner out and wants to know if we’re getting ice cream too…that has a brand-new toy and wants to know if she can have some candy too. But the next thought that hit me made me a little weepy. How sweet is it of her to put others before herself? I’ve been patiently (or not-so patiently) waiting for several years for the concept of how much she has or how lucky she is to really “sink in” that I couldn’t believe the day was already here. She was putting others before herself.
I made some suggestions for things that I thought that she would like to have, and she admitted that some of those might be nice to have. But nothing else was added to her list. Trying as hard as I did, I could NOT get her to write down one single thing that SHE wanted for Christmas. Now, granted her Christmas list last year also had something on it for everyone else (Mommy a new car, Brent a shotgun, etc.) but there was stuff there for her as well. Between last year and this year, she seems to understand that she doesn’t do without and she has everything she really needs.
I’m sure that it’s a fluke. It’ll all be different tomorrow…but just for the moment, I want to enjoy a really good thing. Maybe this is the year that our family will truly understand what it means to adopt an angel…our kids will understand that there are kids out there that are happy to receive the underwear, shirts, jeans, socks and shoes…those basic necessities that our kids can sometimes take for granted. We’ve done a lot of giving this year…between toy donations, outgrown clothes and putting money into cause boxes at stores…I hope that it’s all paying off and she’s seeing/understanding that richness isn’t measured in what you have.
It’s what you give. It’s being able to give. Even if it means that you don’t get the new DS game that you really want, but would probably lose in the mix of your 25 other DS games. It felt mean this summer to make them start paying for their own treats – like snow cones and ice cream stops and little nickel and dime toys – but maybe earning your allowance does make you appreciate the value of money and how much gets spent on a daily basis. (I know that it’s supposed to do that, but it seems like so many days it really is taking a long time to sink in!)
The kids buy their own toys. The kids are finishing their meals when we eat out, now that we don’t eat out as often – it’s more of a treat and they know if they don’t finish, we might not come back as quickly. Or maybe they just don’t like PB&J like I do! And every once in a while, Jenna offers to pay for my scoop of Chocolate Chip ice cream at Baskin Robbins.
It might stink to be a parent most of the time…teaching your kids these valuable lessons to make them better people is no fun at all…but every once in a while it can truly pay off and you see the bigger picture. You know - the one that you’re not privy to most of the time. It happened for me this weekend when my child made out her Christmas list with not one single item on there for herself.
How do you teach your kids these things? More importantly, how do I continue to broaden her horizons, so to speak, and encourage her along these lines even more? Because I sure don't want to lose the momentum that we've got at the moment!