A Shift in Focus This Christmas

“There are so many toys out, we can’t even walk across the room,” I said to my kids the other day, after stepping on what I swore would be the last block to pierce my bare foot ever again. “Time to pick up. Let’s start with this puzzle.”

My three-year-old responded with his new favorite word: “No.”

“No? Can you toss the pieces into the box like a basketball?” I countered. No. “…’Kaaay. Let’s count how fast you can do it!” No. “You’ll get a sticker for your chart if you just — “ Nope.

Out of tricks, the pleas turned into threats: “If you don’t start taking care of your toys and helping to pick up a little bit, I’M going to clean up with my GARBAGE BAG.” It was a tactic I had recently learned from a friend, and I was eager to see if it would work on my own brood.

“Okay, Mommy.” Record screeches. 

“WHAT? Okay?? You don’t care if I throw this puzzle away? This puzzle you LOVE?”

“No, throw it away,” he said, without even looking up from whatever other game he had started playing.

Flabbergasted, I realized he had called my bluff, and I now had no choice but to get rid of this perfectly good puzzle. I theatrically placed it in a garbage bag and awaited his tumult, but he was utterly unfazed.

With Christmas coming, I worry about the sheer quantity of STUFF that clutters our lives. We are so lucky to be able to afford all we can with three children, and lucky to have friends and family who have the means to spoil them. We have toys on rotation, toys that are forgotten about, clothes that go unworn because we have been given so much. It’s an admittedly good problem to have, but it makes me wonder how we can teach our children contentedness in a world of such abundance, where material items are completely expendable to them because they are always showered with more.

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