Not For Sale, Part II
It would have been so much easier to just give him his way.
Meltdown averted, happiness maintained.
Until the next store.
It had been a lovely weekend of family-time. We ran away from home for a few days, leaving behind responsibility, laundry, yard work, and everything else that begged for our time. We spent three days playing board games around the wood stove, and swinging, endlessly swinging, on the rope in the front yard.
Is there greater bliss than little-boy laughter and squeals, as Daddy pushes them over his head and their sneakers sore up into the branches? We took turns, all of us, for hours on end, never getting bored with that simple delight.
We had taken a couple of day trip adventures – spelunking a local cavern and visiting historic Columbia State Park. I’ll confess, they were more excited by the enormous marble boulders strip mined around the town than they were in the historic gold rush town.
It was then we noticed the first signs of illness.
I want that! Can I buy this? But I waaaaant it!
The symptoms increased in severity and frequency as the day went on. Clearly contagious, it spread from one child to the other, and back again, every few minutes.
By the end of the weekend, their father and I were spent trying to mitigate the damage. We knew we were faced with only one choice – we had to battle the cause.
What was the cause? Entitlement. Right there in our own household, in the hearts of our blessed boys. Insidious and silent, it attacked while our defenses were down.
We knew doing battle with the disease would be painful for all of us. It would be so much easier to give in to their pleas.
For a few moments at least, until the next “want” arose.
We left the last store with three out of four of us in tears (two boys, one parent, but I’m not saying who). It brings me no joy to tell them no. It hurts me to my very core to deny them anything. It also makes me hoppin’ mad to see my sweet cherub stomping his foot in anger because we refused to buy him a brand-new orange and purple fishing rod. We’re cruel, you see. He only has one already, that he’s used, um, once. Aren’t we heartless? He sure thought so.
As I’ve said before – if we give them everything they want now, they’ll grow up believing they deserve everything they want later. And later it will hurt more.
Saying “no” now is hard. There simply is no way around it. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. I hope that the times we have to say “no” become less frequent. I hope that they get what we’re at, and soon. I hope that someday, they’ll perceive others’ needs before their own. I hope they’ll figure out the difference between need…and want.
For now, the best we can do is show them. Show them that we can walk into a store, and walk out of it empty-handed.
Show them that we don’t always buy what we want, when we want it. I think this might even be harder than saying no to them…saying no to ourselves, for their sake.
Show them that happy doesn’t come from things, and it can’t be bought in a store. Happiness isn’t really a new pair of shoes…happiness, or better, joy, is in the hours spent on that rope swing in the yard.
That’s the real stuff, right there.