Christmas morning, my daughter ran downstairs and searched through all of her wrapped presents to locate the Captain America shield she wanted.
Santa found out only two weeks prior to Christmas that she thought she was getting one. We honestly had no idea how important the shield was to her and when she mentioned it in passing, we needed another gift to add to her pile so we got it. I don’t think she even put it on her Christmas list but apparently it was mega-crucial she receive this shield. After she opened it, she placed it aside and moved on.
A few days later, the shield was left untouched under the tree. I asked her why she wasn’t playing with the toy she so desperately needed and she told me it was for Halloween next year. We buy the kids about four gifts and a few stocking stuffers, and here she was wasting a Christmas gift on next year’s Halloween costume.
Meanwhile, at every Christmas celebration we had, and there were a lot, Reagan hoped for an Elsa doll from Frozen (another mega-crucial toy and we had no idea), and she cried every time she unwrapped a gift and it wasn’t Elsa. Who knew? Those tears broke us.
A few days later, Brendan got the doll, wrapped it and left it on the porch. Reagan found the gift and we told her it must have been left there by an elf. The doll hasn’t left her side ever since.
While Reagan was opening that Elsa doll, Brendan turned to me and muttered that he couldn’t believe we’ve become those parents. Had we? Those moms and dads who give their kids anything they cry for and pout about until they get it? Weren’t there other things she asked for and we told her no? I racked my brain trying to remember a time when we didn’t get her something she wanted. Do we always cave? Are we raising a spoiled kid?
Running out and getting that doll for her probably wasn’t the best parenting move but I came to realize she never asks for anything. Like, ever. When we walk through the toy section at Target, she gets very excited but never asks me to buy anything. When there’s a toy commercial on t.v. that she likes, she exclaims, “that’s soooo cool,” but doesn’t ask for it. She knows to be thankful for gifts. She’s definitely not spoiled.
I can see how easy it is to give your child anything he or she wants though. I know this is only the beginning too. When she hits grade school and all the kids are getting whatever new toy is “in” that year, she’s going to want that. She’ll beg us to wear make-up too early because all the other girls are doing it. She’s going to want that absolutely ludicrous elf on a shelf too, I’m sure.
How do you keep your kid’s feet firmly grounded but also keep her from being an outcast? How do you allow the tears to well up and let her heart break instead of running out two days after Christmas to buy her that mega-crucial toy you overlooked?
Even though it feels like I’ve been a mom forever, I’m still very new to all of this, and even the more seasoned parents have no idea what they’re doing half the time. After researching this topic a bit, I’ve come up with a simple plan:
All easier said than done, I know. I’ve noticed that almost every single article I read suggested we as parents or guardians must set the example ourselves. Living honest, grateful and confident lives will lead our children in the right direction. We are the most influential people in their lives no matter what their age. Or so all of those “experts” say. Nevertheless, this is my plan for now.
Hopefully I’m doing it right and my kids will grow up to be grateful and confident. Ya know, as long as there’s no nuclear war and we don’t all die first.