I’m not an indulgent parent. Really. I swear. Especially when it comes to the “give me’s.” When we go to the grocery store or the usual Wal-Mart run, my kids know not to ask to buy something. Because if they do, the answer’s no. No. We are not buying __________________ (fill-in-the-blank) because it’s:
A. not on the list.
B. not your birthday.
C. not in the budget.
D. just going to end up on the car floor/in the dog’s mouth/in the trash when you’re not looking.
You get the idea. I don’t like to buy, “to buy.” To buy time. To buy forgiveness. To buy affection. To buy silence.
But one day, at the grocery store, I should have, and thank goodness I eventually did.
This post is not like my usual. No home decor idea ahead. Just warning you. But, man, this was a lesson I needed. Here goes…
About 2 weeks before Christmas, when we were grocery shopping, while I was contemplating which yogurt to buy The Boss, my youngest ran up to me with a gigantic teddy bear in his arms, and said, ” Mama, I want this! Can we buy it?” Dang. It’s sweet that he calls me “Mama” still, but I said, “No.”
“No, we aren’t buying a gigantic teddy bear 2 weeks before Christmas, we aren’t buying a teddy bear that our puppy would love to tear apart, and really, if you wanted a huge bear, why didn’t you tell Santa? It’s too late, buddy. Santa and his elves are in go-time. Lists can’t be changed.” And on, and on. That’s what I said.
And this is what he did. He cried. He held tight to that bear that was twice the size of his off-the-charts 8 year-old self. He wouldn’t budge as I kept shopping the dairy aisle. While adding milk and OJ to my cart, my littlest held his ground and his bear while wiping tears from his face.
“I really want it, Mama.”
“I said no. Now, put it back.”
And eventually he did, but not until I got to the check out. He must have had some hope at the bread aisle, but when I said, “Put it back, NOW” again as we rounded the corner to the finish line, he knew that it was useless and he begrudgingly did. And he was sad.
In the days that followed, he wouldn’t stop talking about that bear. He wanted to write to Santa again to change his list, he wondered at bed time if maybe he could get the bear for his birthday next year (in November!) and he wondered if he had enough money to buy it for himself.
And I kept saying, “No.” No bear. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
Until I had to go back to the grocery store for that “last shop” before Christmas…
This time, only my oldest was with me, my daughter. And again, while studying the yogurt choices for The Boss (man, there’s a lot of varieties, right? And he’s picky!), she came up to me with the giant teddy bear in her arms and said, “Ian would love this. You should buy it for him for Christmas” and this time, I did.
For $29.99, I bought what my youngest declared to be his favorite gift from Christmas. It was the gift he wanted to take into school for his 2nd grade show and tell. It’s the gift he sleeps on/with every night and in the months that have followed Christmas, it’s the one gift that he has consistently played with.
But, it’s more than that. When he ran down the steps on Christmas morning, and saw the bear perched on top of his presents, he said, “Santa listened! He knew.” Then I knew that as a parent, I need to remember the magic of being little. Not just the magic of Christmas time, but the magic of the “Yes!!!” when you thought for sure your mama would say no. For $29.99, I bought some of that magic back into our family. I’m not sure how many Christmases I have left that include Santa lists and cookies for Santa and Elf on the Shelf, but I do know that I need to remember that always saying no doesn’t make me a good parent, and saying yes doesn’t make me a bad one either.
So, while I still think that I’m not an indulgent parent, I am hoping to remember how important it is to embrace those moments of magic and to buy the bear.
Just look at him. He loves it!
My husband took this picture of my youngest sleeping in our bed when I was out of town, but he sleeps with it every night in his own bed. He says his bear keeps him safe. And that’s magical to me.
ps. If you see my littlest, remember, Santa bought the bear. Not me.