Something I’ve Noticed About My Kid
Some may say I am projecting. Maybe I am. But I don’t THINK I am. I have noticed the holidays overwhelm my kids, or rather the stuff that comes with holidays. Well, not kids, mostly Hazel because let’s face it, anything overwhelms Miles, he’s new. Hazel is getting the hang of this world though. She knows everything, just ask her. She’s her own boss. I’m NOT the boss of her. You know, she’s two… every bit of the stereotype you hear about two year olds.
March was hard on us. We entered the month stocked up on sugar from Valentines day. Immediately we had a bunch of birthdays, then St. Patties Day, then her birthday, then Easter. I didn’t know those holidays had gotten so commercialized. When I was young I always assumed St. Patties was an ‘adult holiday’. I knew what it was for and all that but the only thing to do was wear green and then the grown ups drink green beers. Sometimes there was corned beef. This year though, the kids got St. Patties day gifts and candy, not much, but some. I rolled with it.
Then Hazel’s birthday, which was great. I know I won’t ever be able to control the gift giving of others, the best I can do is request no gifts and continue to emphasize that the best gift is the time spent together. My only rule though is ‘if it can’t fit at my house it stays at yours’. So far that seems to keep things in check on birthdays and Christmas, the ones I anticipate getting things for.
Then came Easter. I had no idea I even had to beware of Easter. When I was growing up, we wake up to find a simple Easter basket with a few jellybeans, a chocolate bunny and maybe some bubbles. Mom made a special dinner, we had an egg hunt for a couple more jelly beans. We spent time together. It was fun.
This year each of my kids got seven Easter baskets. That’s right, SEVEN. A total of FOURTEEN Easter baskets consumed my couch. They were from well meaning relatives on all sides of the family. My kids are the only grand kids on my side, there are a lot on the other side and things have to be ‘even’. Lots of factors lead to going WAY overboard. James and I opted to not even do anything special for the kids for Easter because everyone else already did everything and then some (and I do feel a little bummed about that, but I know it’s a shallow thought, we did spend family time together looking at their new stuff ;-)).
I was debating what to do with all of the well meaning but completely overwhelming stuff, I was weighing the guilt I’d face throwing it in the trash (we had already perpetuated unethical labor laws by taking the gift home, the least we could do was use it a little before crowding the landfill…), the guilt I would face pawning off our junk in the name of ‘those in need’ (who really don’t want or need junk any more than us, it’s just a lie we tell ourselves so we don’t feel as bad as tossing it straight into the trash), and wondering if any of it should be kept. While I was considering the options, I noticed something. My normally kind and sharing little girl was not. She was anxious and protective of all ‘her stuff’.
Hazel is the girl at the playground who is very good about sharing her toys and treats. I have heard several complements from moms and dads praising her ability to share, something they claim they have huge issues battling their own kids on. She is the first to hand over some of her treats, her toys, her juice, to want to play bubbles. She woke up while I was taking this picture of this ‘stuff’ (below), runs out of her room toward Miles and I and yells ‘See this, it’s all MINE, NO!’ and sneered at Miles as if he was going to take it and run off!
It took me back a second to see her act that way but ultimately made it that much easier to just throw most of it out! We kept a few items (the ones we could use), replaced old toys, tossed the rest and moved on. She didn’t miss any of it.
It did leave me wondering if some adults subconsciously act the same. The more you have the more emotional burden there is to ‘protect’, and the less kind you are. I know for a fact that the feeling of having less stuff is very freeing for me and has definitely allowed me to slow down and be more intentional about my actions, which I think leads to me sharing more openly, but there are probably a lot of factors to that… I do know it was more painful for me parting with all of my ‘things’ all of those years ago than it was for Hazel but I have not once missed them either. I once had enough crap to fill a 2,500 s.f. house.
Not once have I missed it.
Yeah… I might be projecting… but I’ll still insist that time spent together is a better gift than any ‘thing’! And if it must be a thing, the best ones hold memories and aren’t made in China!