Birthdays and expectations.

Yesterday my dear sweet little Angus turned 5!  Where did all those years go?!

You know when you make a decision that feels "right" with your soul?  Well Angus's birthday was one of those.

We have been talking ALOT about gratefulness in our house, about children being satisfied.  We have observed with William our eldest that he is eternally unsatisfied.  It doesn't mean he is ungrateful necessarily, because he is grateful.  He gives thanks daily, he enjoys the simple things.   In many ways he is very mature for his age.  He is a good kid really.  Its just he is ALWAYS looking for the next thing, for more of a good thing with all the little things, for the best deal.  Its really tiring.  And worrying really.  He understands our family choices in many ways bit if we give him one lolly, he will try to bargain for two.  No doubt this skill will serve him well in life, bargaining to get the best deal, for standing up for himself, for working within a workplace to get the best outcome.  It is not entirely a bad trait at all, in fact I would argue that it is both his strongest and weakest personality trait.

But it has the potential to turn him (like it does all of us)  into a selfish, self obsessed, greedy child if we don't direct it into a positive, mindful direction.  Our aim as parents is to steer it away from selfish desires to how he can use it to help others, as well as ensuring he looks after himself of course! Goodness it is tricky to steer, though he is equally blessed with a loving and generous soul which we encourage and nurture and I'm so proud of his kind heart.

For instance I will never forget one day before school (he must have been 6?) when he came up to me asking for MORE money, he had spent the ENTIRE morning obsessing about money, not getting ready and pretty well ignoring me.  He had even taken to flogging money from his little brothers piggy bank which scored him zero points.   (He would often collect money just so he could have lots of coins, he liked to count them like a miniature Ebeneezer Scrooge!) I started to lecture him, irritated as we were now late for school.  About the fact we need to earn money, that it does not just get it handed to us.  About what steeling is and why it was wrong and so forth.  Then finally I asked him exasperated what he needed all this money for anyway?

He responded very seriously and its something I  will never forget.... "For collection at school.  So the Aboriginal people can have bibles in their own languages."

This little man has a huge faith, he just wanted everyone to be able to read the bible easily if they wanted too.

I looked at him stunned, took a deep breath, stopped and breathed out my irritation.  Together we counted his money, he wanted to give $5.00 but he did not have quite enough so I found some silver coins made it up.  We walked into school that morning and talked to the teacher so he could hand his little donation over.  It was an important parenting lesson for me.  It brought me to my knees and I vowed always to ask the intention of a behavior or action in the future.  Mostly I have. 

As a parents it is this kind of determination, this kind of stubbornness and eternally looking for more we want to encourage.  The kind of looking for more to help others.

We believe living a simple life will encourage this kind of personality trait into a positive direction.

We lapsed over Christmas and gave gifts that didn't lie in with our values.  We just bought what they wanted as we were simply tired, and worn out after a tough period.  They were not the kind of thing we usually buy, make or give.  But it served as a reminder as to what we DO value, because it felt wrong to us in hindsight, unsatisfying.  Now I'm not against the kids having those kinds of toys, family and friends are welcome to buy what they please, but I want the things we give to reflect what we believe and the life we are trying to create.  I believe consistency is important.  There is no point saying one thing and doing another.

But none the less on Angus's birthday I was a little concerned.  What we had decided to give looked so small.  We had decided on a lovely long handled shovel, some home made clothes from fabric he choose for his much loved Waldorf doll "Jimmy", and William and I appliqued a tee-shirt for him.  Aside from that I bought online a little wooden ball and cup toy, a little rainbow making prism, and a cute mini Folkmans fox finger puppet to match "Jimmy" and the fox pattern on his new clothing.

Excuse his smile, he seems to suddenly have forgotten how to grin normally, which has me in hysterics!!


But I shouldn't have worried, he was happy.  We dressed Jimmy, we sang happy birthday, went to the beach with the dogs and ate fish and chips.  I made a simple chocolate cake, iced it and tipped some lollies into a bowl and said go decorate!  They had a blast, making sure they got every lolly on the cake.  they are such boys.  If that had of been me as a child I would have tried hard to decorate it so it looked pretty, in patterns.  But not my boys, they smashed them on, so they could eat it quicker!    hahaha!!






But it got me thinking, whose expectation are we trying to fulfill when we celebrate children's birthdays?  Are they our expectations that we then teach our children?  Are our children really so hard to please?  I keep hearing about entitled children everywhere.  But perhaps children are the same as they always have been.  I do not think the nature of man changes in as little as a couple of generations.  I think it is more likely we have a problem with entitled parents?  Or perhaps things as they always are, that the same amount of diversity exists withing our community and that people are so busy looking outside to lay blame on who is getting it "wrong" and who is getting it "right" that they are missing our on reflecting upon their own lives?

It remind me of this verse which I love.


Gussy was thrilled with the day.  On the weekend we have family coming down for a BBQ.  We will play pass the parcel, perhaps another game or two.  The kids will play, it will be fun.  There will be no bouncing castle or face paining.  instead they will do what we did when we were kids - they will run around and play with their cousins.    

Much love,
Emma
xx
  



9 comments

  1. Emma, I am so pleased that the birthday presents were 'enough'. You do seem to have a handle on what is going on with your boys. Not everyone would be so observant these days as they are so busy. Good on you.

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    1. I don't know Chel! Sometimes I think I have a handle on it and other times I don't. I guess that's parenting isnt it?

      xx

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  2. I cannot remember a single birthday present as a kid.....but I do remember the cakes :-)

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    1. haha, I remember a bit of both, but your right, the cakes were always cool. I love the old school womens weekly book. Usually we go from there!

      xx

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  3. Your William sounds a lot like my eldest son, whose middle name ironically is William. He's in many ways so much older than his years, and from a parenting point of view, very mentally demanding. Which can be so tiring sometimes.
    I have to agree with Phil by the way, I remember very few presents but quite a lot of cakes, which is probably why I try and make a special cake for my kids birthdays.
    So glad to hear Gussy had a great day :)
    Cassandra xx

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    1. Yes, we will be making a special cake for his family party today. I have baked the cake just need to decorate it today. Usually we have a simple cake on their actually birthday and then on the family do I make a special one. This year he wants a ninja turtle. Or star wars. Still yet to decide! LOL.

      And your right, parenting a child like that IS mentally demanding. I have thought about home schooling but golly by the end of school holidays Im ready for him to go back to school. I think the school environment is really good for his personalty type! As long as it is the right school mind you, where they can wor with his strengths. :)

      xx

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  4. Wonderful, wonderful..!! Here was I, as a Granny, feeling sad that all kids seem to require a lavish party every year with face painter or bouncy castle or some other lavish exotic new gimmick to out-do all the other kids. Pffft.... Good on you for being smart enough not to bend to all those demands. It's all getting completely ridiculous and where is it going to end? Another beautifully written piece that had me tearing up again. X

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    1. I'm too much of a tight wad to pay for a bouncy castle! And to me its what makes fairs and the yearly show so special no? Anticipation is a good thing, thats when things become so magical and amazing!

      Though this year I splashed out on paper plates and cups as my crockery is still boxed up for that number of people because we are waiting to reno our kitchen in a couple of months. Normally I make a point of cloth napkins and normal plates and cutlery. I figure this year paper is biodegradable at least! Oh and we have no dishwasher and washing crockery for 20 family members, the day before school gets back when we have to contact books, sort uniforms etc and get the kids to bed at 7pm is just too much for my brain to handle! LOL!

      xx

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