For Christmas we decided four gifts, like last year: something you want, something you need, something to play with and something to read. Finances are such that Keith and I are foregoing gifts and stockings, but we want Little Man to have a nice Christmas.
In theory, and in discussions, this four gift thing is a piece of cake. But out shopping in the real world?
I want to give my son every little thing.
I went to Toys R Us last weekend because his “want” was on sale.
(it’s a microphone on a stand. I have spent countless hours lately being his mic stand, which renders me attached to the recliner while he sings on and on. And on.)
Anyway…I picked his want and his something to play with (a tool set). I was horrified by the behavior of other parents (not to mention the children. Why would you bring your young child to a toy store, tell them NO to everything the request and then get mad at their fits?). I was equally horrified by the thousands of dollars I saw rung up at the check out lines.
This was mere hours after the tragedy in Connecticut. Maybe these people felt like showing their child(ren) love through plastic stuff made in China? Maybe they felt misplaced guilt? Maybe they felt like they could somehow buy their child’s love through boxes of matchbox cars and Barbie clothes?
Or maybe they felt like me.
You see, Little Man doesn’t ask for stuff. Sure, he asks for a cookie at every bakery we pass (our groceries give out cookies) and once in a while he wants a bottle of water at the check out lane. And we did go somewhere the other day with lots of toys and he said, “Look at all these toys! I want them!” But he doesn’t generally have a case of the “gimmies.” He has seen maybe a dozen toy commercials, and those would have been during football on tv. There are no commercials on Netflix or DVDs.
But I WANT to give to him. Everything. Even within our very limited budget and with the constraints of four gifts (plus stocking) I wanted to buy more.
Because I love him.
Because I want him to have enough.
But what is enough? He has three shelves of books and puzzles. He has a play kitchen with tons of food and accessories. He has three types of blocks, three shoebox bins of cars and trucks and trains, four shoebox bins of assorted other toys, and every Little People set you can imagine.
That doesn’t cover the art supplies: playdo, accessories for that, paints, papers, stickers, crayons, chalk, etc.
He doesn’t need more toys. He has enough.
But he goes to other kids’ houses and they have two or three times what we have. He goes to church classes and hears what other kids are getting for birthdays and Christmas.
As a parent, I want to give my son a great knowledge of the Bible, of morals and values, of being an honorable man full of integrity. “Things” are not important.
We have food. Clothing. Shelter. Warm beds. Entertainment.
Does he really need hundreds of dollars worth of toys that he will quickly tire of?
Someone remind me of that next time I am at Target or Walmart gently caressing the newest train set, please?
How do you balance giving your child what is important with giving him (or her) enough?
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