Growing Grateful Children
While some people were busy celebrating green and Irish-ness this past weekend, we were celebrating the birth of my second son.
Born on St. Paddy’s Day, for the last 8 years, my #2 Dude has been my lucky charm (not, win the lottery lucky, but like, snow melts just in time for his party kinda luck).
More than anything though, it’s his big heart that we love celebrating each year on his birthday.
Recently I’ve been reading articles all over the place about the entitlement disease today’s American children seem to be plagued with. Moms are constantly discussing ways to make their children more grateful. How to make them less greedy. How to make them appreciate all of their gifts.
I’ll admit that I too have wondered about this and mentally punched my own face when I’ve witnessed my child diving across the floor for a toy while screaming, “MINE!” in the middle of a play date no less (because they always save that kind of ugly for witnesses, right?).
I’ve made concentrated efforts to ensure that my kids understand how lucky they are and take time to give back to others who are less fortunate.
Mostly I think I’m probably beating my head against the wall with my fruitless efforts because they still get grabby in Target, and look longingly at other kids’ iPods and stuff when they are sitting at a doctor’s appointment with a coloring book.
And, then, they prove me wrong, yet again.
We are a big birthday party hosting family. I don’t like doing it (because I don’t like the requisite cleaning of my house before or after), but I do it anyway because I always wished I had more birthday parties growing up and, duh, I like to live vicariously through my children.
So, when it came time to plan another shindig for #2, I consulted him in the planning phase. Did he want it at the bowling alley like his older brother, or at the arcade center like his younger brother, or somewhere else entirely? How many guests would he have? What kind of food would he like? And, was there a gift he want us to get for him? What about a mariachi band?! I always wanted a mariachi band!
He sat silently in his booster seat (all of our important discussions seem to take place in the car) during my barrage of questions, staring at his hands clasped in his lap. When I met his eyes in the review mirror he said, “Mom, I don’t need a party this year.”
Pish-posh. That was my response. Okay, so I didn’t say pish-posh because I have never in my life said those words, but I definitely didn’t agree with that statement.
Only, he was serious. When I asked him why he was turning down a party, he said he just didn’t need one.
Of course I pressed him. Because everyone needs a party, right? Especially when both of his brother’s had parties, with friends and gifts and games and cake!
“They don’t know what’s important. Parties aren’t important. Having a house for your family to live in together is what’s important. Food to eat is important. I don’t want you to spend your money on a party for me. I want you to spend it on important stuff.”
Definitely not the words of an ungrateful little monster. Definitely adding this to my mom résumé under the winning category.
I told him I was proud of him for being so understanding and grateful for what we have.
And then I told him that he deserved to enjoy his birthday any way he wants to, but we’d like to do something special for him, even if it’s not an over-the-top party.
He chose to spend the evening laughing, and smiling, and trying not to get his eyebrows burned off with family and a couple of friends at the hibachi grill instead (which, hello, total score for me not having to create a bunch of pinnable goody bag labels and whatnot).
Because, as even my eight year old can tell you, that is what’s important.
Image via Amanda Rodriguez