Thursday, December 19, 2013

Young Kids Aren't As Selfish As People Like to Think

      This Christmas season has been different for me. I have such a natural joy in my soul. Honestly. I’m not trying to be a cheeseball. It’s like my perspective of the whole holiday has broadened. My thoughts aren’t so narrow and selfish as they used to be. Though, I have a long way to go still.

     I’m attributing these changes in me to my children. Having three people become the priority in your life over yourself in every way is a challenge but it has the potential to create beautiful change. I hope that’s what it does for me, anyway. Even being married is a learned prioritization of another over yourself. You have to make yourself do it. It's not like that for me with my kids. I wear myself ragged trying to do and be everything for them. Something about having children, at least for me, is absolutely humbling (in the most vividly real meaning of the word) and I doubt I'm the only one to feel that way. I can visualize all of the potential on the paths at their small feet.

     At the same time, I see the inborn ills of humanity in my children. I see greed and vanity and selfishness during this holiday season. As their mother, I realize my whole life purpose now is to guide these small loves of mine to compassion, love, and selflessness. I can’t show these things without learning them myself and all of this is, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever needed to do.

     I see my sweet, spirited Bitty Bug gazing at all the stuff in the catalogs and in the store. “I want . . . I want . . . I want. . .”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with simply wanting things. At just three years old, she is still so innocent and unaware. She just sees these dazzling ads, beautiful dolls, and fun toys and she just inherently has the urge to possess it all. I think there is a problem though when you become unfoundedly entitled, envious, or obsessed with getting more and more. This is fueled early and easily in our society. We are surrounded with consumerism and greed. We let it take us over. I want an alternative experience for my kids but I want balance too. I don’t want to cut out gift giving or go straight to homemade-only presents (honestly, that would be much more work on my part, right now!) I just want to start curbing these gut reactions in my Bitty Bug.

    So, we decided to have our little daughters (Bitty Bug, 3.5 and Sweet Pea, 2) pick out gifts for each other and their new baby pumpkin. I was thrilled with them. We explained to them on that shopping trip that we were “thinking about brother and sister” today and not ourselves. I took Bitty Bug with me and the hubster took Sweet Pea. I just kind of walked around the store and asked what she thought her sister would want or need. “What do you think her favorite color is?” and “Which one of this or this would she like better?” I wanted her to be focused on thinking of someone else. That’s a very big thing for a 3 year old to do! VERY big! She pointed out some things she wanted. She told me about all her dinosaurs (again). She initially wanted to get one thing for her sister but it was way over the little budget I gave her (5 dollars). Then, as we went down one more aisle, I noticed a little dress up purse and pointed it out to her. “What do you think of this?” and she gasped and exclaimed “Look! It’s pink! [Sweet Pea] has that one. It’s pink for her. I have a purple sparkle purse. I put all my crayons in it. [Sweet Pea] wants that one. Yeah.” I was delighted. Same thing for Pumpkin. She saw a wooden, rainbow stacking toy and decided “He will like those colors! He can play with me!”. I know I beamed with pride. It might seem like such a silly thing but she showed so much thought and she was so happy to pick those things out herself. Sweet Pea had picked out things for her sister and brother that I would’ve picked out myself. A little yellow car for Bitty Bug and a tiny stuffed monkey for Pumpkin. Bitty Bug LOVES hot wheels and she also likes the color yellow (second only to pink and purple and sparkles). I don’t know if my 2 year old is really that intuitive or if it’s a perfect coincidence. On Christmas day, I’ll have them give those gifts to each other instead of just putting them under the tree. We’ll definitely do the same thing next year.

     Although, I may be doing shopping the day before Christmas to keep things a surprise between them because Bitty Bug has told Sweet Pea about her pink, sparkly purse only 15 times now. Somehow it all goes right over Sweet Pea's head or she simply doesn’t hear it. Then again, when my sister and I bought each other Christmas presents we almost always ended up giving up hints and guessing what we got each other before Christmas morning!

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