Hi y’all, Natalie here with a story and revelation that happened recently that I feel like many parents can relate to. A recent “ah ha moment” I had where I realized I have a spoiled child. Our son Jackson celebrates his birthday in September. Coincidentally, his hockey season started around the same time. Yeah, it is an expensive month to say the least. We took him to his first practice and noticed afterwards when we were taking off his gear that his skin was red on his legs from the padding straps. I told my husband, Jonathon, that we should look around for some Under Armour pants for him to keep warm but also to protect his skin. Simple enough.
We walked into the sporting goods store and hit the kids section. First off, holy expensive prices! Off topic, but why is kids gear nearly as expensive as adult gear?! He’s seriously half the size of my husband so that should equal half the price. Anyhow, we picked out the pants for him, and he started the begging process of asking for the matching shirt. My husband looked at me and kind of shrugged, just saying “why not”? The shirt was only $29, and it wasn’t like he was asking for a new bike or a pony. It was just a shirt.
Honestly though, I suddenly had a wave of revelation come over me. For 4.5 years, Jackson was an only child. He occupied all of our time, all of our money and all of our thoughts. He was the center of attention and everyone’s favorite. Then Tanner came along in April and we had to learn how to share those resources. Let me tell you that it was a learning process for everyone. Why am I telling you this? Because it hit me that Jackson was *gasp* spoiled. He isn’t bratty, but he does EXPECT a lot of things. Giving him all that we can isn’t the problem, him expecting it was.
He’s the sweetest boy, yet I couldn’t let him go on thinking that money comes easily. I stood there in the store wrestling with my newly found conviction and his adorable blue eyes staring at me. It took everything I had (which seems silly, but it was a completely foreign idea to us) and said, “no”. He asked a few more times and I just said, “Look, your birthday is coming. Let’s see how much money you get for your birthday and you can buy it on your own.” He didn’t seem to have a huge problem with the idea of using his own money, but waiting was hard and it was completely written all over his face. He accepted the answer, we paid for the pants and went home.
I admit that I wrestled with the decision the whole drive to our house. My husband reassured me that it was no big deal to make him wait, but I felt horrible. He’d have two more practices before his birthday and he’d be without the shirt he so badly wanted. Seriously?! I was wasting my thoughts on a size six shirt.
His birthday rolled around and after he counted it five times, he knew he had enough money to purchase the shirt. He mentioned wanting to buy a toy, but we reminded him that buying something practical was a really good idea. Wait, he wanted that shirt so badly and now that it was his money that was being spent he was willing to let it go for something else? Then I knew I had made the right decision to not purchase it. He ended up choosing the new shirt for hockey and because he had waited, he was able to use a coupon which left him with $20 extra from his birthday stash.
The icing on the cake was that he misplaced that shirt while playing hockey at home. I truly believe he felt the burn more because he knew he had spent his own money on it. He had to go without it even after he waited a while to be able to get it. Jackson knew he had to be more mindful of his belongings.
Was this a small lesson? Absolutely. Do I think he will never expect anything from us again? Absolutely not. But it was a step in knowing that as his parent, I have to be present in the decisions I make not for my 5 year old, but for my son who will be 30 one day and needs to support his own family. I’m raising someone’s friend, someone’s husband and someone’s father. What kind of man do I want him to be? That’s a pretty overwhelming question because I want so many things for him. But that day in the store, we worked on delayed satisfaction, saving money, having pride in your belongings and not EXPECTING something simply because he wanted it at the time.
Has something like this happened to you with your child? Or did your parents make you work for your own possessions? How did this shape you? I pray that these moments appear to me easily and quickly so I can identify them as teaching moments. After all, we sit with our kids and work on the alphabet, their phone number and how to solve math problems, but the everyday simple and mundane tasks are just as important. Leave me a comment sharing your story. I’d love to hear them!