Yesterday, my oldest, Evangeline [3-years-old], went to the movies with a girlfriend, so my inner mamma bear was immediately preparing to soften the blow for my son [2-years-old], who I assumed would be devastated because he couldn’t go too.
My first thought was to take Theo to Target to pick out a new toy [from the bargain bin, of course – my kids’ FAVORITE]. I was still considering this as a viable option until it dawned on me how ridiculous and hypocritical it is of me to try to comfort my son with shopping.
Here I am, trying to teach my children that happiness does NOT come from stuff that you can buy – or even from the experience of shopping – and yet my first tendency was to have him buy something so he wouldn’t feel sad.
[Side note: This whole plan was based on my assumption that he would be sad. There wasn’t even proof he would be – and of course, he wasn’t the least bit bothered.]
Here was the perfect opportunity to teach my son a lesson about a). how to deal with disappointment and b). what gives real joy in this life and I nearly blew it!
So, when the moment arrived, I held Theo’s hand and said “Sissy is going to go see a movie with Charlotte and you and I are going to go to the park to play. How does that sound?” And he was perfectly happy with that. In those three hours together, he received more focused attention [though not completely because Josephine was also with us] than usual because of the absence of Evangeline. We played and laughed and I don’t think he ever thought about what his sister was doing.
In the end, I think I’m the one who learned a few things, not Theo. I was reminded of two important lessons about motherhood:
1. I don’t need to shield my kids from every disappointment. Even though it’s my natural desire to protect them from every possible moment of sadness, it is my job to show them proper ways to handle disappointments – and retail therapy is definitely not one of them. On the other hand, physical activity is FANTASTIC therapy [and good for you too]!
2. Possessions don’t make you happy. I believe that the greatest sources of joy in life don’t come from getting, but from giving. In this case, giving time and attention to each other, doing something that we love [being outside and active] was way more enjoyable for Theo and I than walking around Target would have been.
It makes me wonder if my children are so stuff-obsessed because that’s what I’ve been modeling for them. Are kids born with the desire to accumulate more and new stuff? Or is that something I [with the help of our consumerist society] am instilling in them?
I clearly have to be more cautious about encouraging materialism in my kids.
Anyway, we had a great day and we didn’t come home with any cheap plastic doo-dads that would be broken or forgotten in a matter of days. Just a few photos of our day together.