Don’t tell my kids but…
In our family, we have the Birthday Season smack dab in between the Christmas Season and the Summer Season. Our three children were born in August…then September…then October. Since it’s currently September 13th, we are very much in the thick of it. My master bedroom closet is filled with dollar-store chef’s hats and impossibly miniature rolling pins for Miss Ceci’s cooking party. I’m frantically cleaning out the toy room, making room for gifts they’ll receive that they in no way need (but will very much enjoy). And I am idly murmuring, as we stroll the toy aisles of Target, “maybe for your birthday” and “put it on your list.”
Maybe I’m alone but here’s a secret.
When my kids really want something. I mean when they talk about it again and again. When they ask me to search for pictures of it online. When they watch numbingly ridiculous YouTube videos featuring this “must-have” toy. When they truly desire something…my heart aches to give it to them.
It does. I feel like such a sucker. I want them to have what they ask for.
Does this make me a bad mother? (I hope not).
Are my kids going to turn into materialistic zombies? (Probably, if I’m not careful).
But wait…hear me out.
Ceci, 5 this month, loves life. She loves everything about life. She loves the colors of life. The sounds of life. The activities of life. Ceci loves the way her water bottle sounds like a dolphin. She loves how anything coconut smells like her Aunt Mimi. She loves how people love her. She loves tiny-teeny surprises. She loves big, huge surprises.
And when she gets gifts, her whole body squeals. Her little eyes squish up, her cheeks lift into two flushed, pink marshmallows, her little body scrunches together as she gasps and shouts her delight. It’s seriously the best thing to watch.
I genuinely enjoy it.
So when Cec, or any of the girls, fixate on something and really go to town with an effort that borders on manipulation to convince me to purchase this thing for their birthday, I’m apt to figure a way to make it happen.
Or when they ask to go visit their baby cousin. Or go to the library. Or go see their aunt in the hospital. Or play in the park. Or play a board game. Or anything.
A one-time ask usually doesn’t do it. I hate to admit it, but I’m most likely in the middle of my own well-laid plans and I’m hesitant to stray from them. But an eager, polite, puppy-eyed appeal will get me. It really will.
Let me amend this. This does NOT mean they get what they ask for. They don’t. We simply don’t have the funds or stupidity to go that route. But the desire to provide it is there.
I suppose that means I’m weak. That I bend to a small child’s will. That I give in, or wish to give in, easily.
Before I go all hard on myself here. I’ve heard these words before.
Ask and you shall receive…
Seek and you shall find….
Knock and the door shall be opened to you…
The truth is, I think the desire within me to grant wishes is a small, minuscule offshoot from God’s desire to grant ours. And just as I will not be giving my kids an ice cream sandwich for a bedtime snack, God will not (for some reason unknown to me) allow me to win the lottery, no matter how sweetly I ask.
I’m not a preacher or a priest or a theologist.
But I am a believer. And reflecting on my desire to grant my children a thousand wishes helps me to understand God’s word just a little bit better. In fact, the verses that follow this rather famous one compare God’s love to that of a parent granting life-giving gifts.
We, like God, are eager to give. And we, like God, are hopeful our children want and ask for things that can be granted and that bring us all closer to Heaven, instead of further away.
My desire to be a genie in a bottle fails, regularly. God gave me this urge-to-give so I may bring myself and my children closer to him. He did not give it so I’d run out to get the latest season of Shopkins. But I do believe this desire, though flawed in my human self, is a small spark from the fire of love God has and feels for us.