I’m ridiculously pleased with the items I just brought home from a brief shopping excursion. They aren’t much–an oven mitt, a candle, and some makeup: foundation and powder–but for some reason I feel like it’s my birthday!
As I’ve wondered why I’m so pleased, I think it’s come down to three reasons: first, the trip itself was more enjoyable than shopping trips usually are; I had plenty of time to browse instead of trying to squeeze shopping in between appointments, and I was at the mall mid-day, mid-week, so parking and crowds were not issues. Second, part of the purchase was a splurge–the mitt and the candle. I very rarely buy something just for fun, something that isn’t on my list of things I need, so even though together they cost less than $30 (in fact, partly because they were not expensive), it felt really special and fun to buy these two items from one of my favorite kitchen stores. Third, though makeup is on the list of things I need, the packaging of what I bought was especially lovely–I love the floral exterior, the feel of the material the boxes are made of, the lettering, all of it. I seriously considered saving the box just because it was so pretty!
These are small things, and you may wonder why I’m mentioning them in a parenting blog. The thing is, I think this drove home for me and serves as a good example of how we can bless our children by giving them less rather than more–fewer “special” things, like treats or trips to the store or toys–and by giving them less extravagant things when we do choose to do something special.
I remember being taken to the local drive-in for a root beer when I was a child; we didn’t even get out of the car, but being with my family on a hot summer night, hearing the radios in the other cars and the murmur of people talking, and the cicadas drone while I sipped that icy mug of root beer–wow, that was a real treat! It was made even more so because we so rarely ate out or went to the movies or anything that cost money. We might go to the local amusement park once per summer, and every now and then my dad would take us swimming, but special nights were usually popcorn and an old movie on TV, (no movie rentals and certainly no streaming video back then!) watermelon and a game of charades on the front porch, or games with the family. For vacation we drove across the country in un-air-conditioned cars (no video or electronic games) to go camping in National Parks.
I know of kids now whose parents take them out to eat on the reg, reward them for “being good” at the store by buying them a treat, give them money to buy whatever they want when they go to the mall, provide iphones and ipads, and make sure they have non-stop entertainment. I don’t condemn them for this, but it’s hard to make anything really special when it’s all so routine.
Parents, think back to what you thought was special when you were a child. Don’t feel like you have to shower your children with stuff simply because you have the means to do it, or out of fear that your kids will feel left out or “different”. Instead, bless them by making sure their life is different–and by that I mean special.