Every 20 seconds in America a child suffers an almost unimaginable fate. They discover that life is not, in fact, fair. Moreover, they may be forced to face the inalienable truth the Rolling Stones have known for 40 years. You can’t always get what you want.
Done. By now the children have nestled, the sugarplums have danced, and the wrapping paper should have long been flung in a flurry of tearing into presents on Christmas day.
You have likely already gone through the time-honored rituals of losing at least one small part and having to dig back through all the day’s trash to locate it.
More importantly, if you are like most normal families, your children may not have received every single thing on their holiday lists. If they did, good for you, but then again, maybe not so good for you – or them.
Ten years into this parenting thing I have come to one conclusion that works pretty much year-round: Children should not necessarily get everything they want when they want it.
Shop. Look, I’m as rabid as the next shopper. I gird up in the wee hours of “Black Friday” and head out with hot coffee and steely resolve to come home with half-priced gifts, by golly!
What I do not do is leave my Thanksgiving pie to camp out overnight in pursuit of said deals. If you do, you are made of sterner stuff. I salute you.
My lack of fitness or interest in camping out in front of the electronic warehouse is why, despite his repeated request for a Wii (the hottest new video game since, well, the last hot new video game), our son did not receive one for Christmas this year.
I further have every reason to believe he will survive this terrible ordeal. Now that the deeds are done and the holiday is behind us I feel safe in saying this without sounding preachy about it.
Who am I to tell you how to do your shopping? However, I do feel entitled to speak personally to the parents I see in my own little corner of the world who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time nearly flattened with worry over whether or not their little darlings will get every single thing they ever wanted, wished, or hoped for.
Not missed. I am not saying that one should willfully deny a youngster something that means the world to them. Perish the thought. I’m saying that if the average wish list is two dozen items long, you should not feel it a personal failure if you don’t fulfill every last wish as if it were a mandatory catalog order form.
This is the optimum time to take notes. Remember what made you happy on the Christmas Day. Take note of what, just two days later, is already languishing off the to the side. More importantly, notice if your children (or grandchildren) even miss what they asked for but did not receive?
Theory. Granted, I’m sure you don’t really know you’re ruining your child until the damage is done. I’m the first to say that my children could grow up and write a completely scathing memoir about how their lives were ruined because they didn’t get the gaming system they requested in 2007.
Maybe Lee Harvey Oswald Sr. thought he’d done a great job with little Lee Harvey Oswald Jr. until the whole presidential assassination went down. I don’t know. I’m just going to have to send up a prayer to the real “birthday boy” of December 25 and hope that people don’t generally end up on a bell tower with a rifle because they didn’t get the exact thing they asked for at Christmas when they were 10.
When the tree and the lights and the bounty of toys are all packed away I want my children to realize one important thing. You may not always get everything you want, but if you remember to honor the real “reason for the season” there’s a really good chance – Lord willing – that you’ll always have everything you need.
Usually this is your family. We love you. We care for you. We provide for you. We will always be here for you. We are family.
So kids, even if you didn’t have a Wii holiday, the real gift is yours if you had a “we” holiday.
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