It's funny how often one likes to let their mind drift back to the days where they had no children, or only one child. I don't think so much about when I didn't have any kids, but the 'era of one child' feels more and more like it was just a dream. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything about my life now. My children each bring something special to our lives that we could not imagine living without. It's just so different to have three children when you start out with one.
For example, an only child is likely to get more stuff. You know, just because they're cute. Or just because. It doesn't really matter, because it's not so tough to agree to the extra dollar or two for that little doll or toy because they were good and behaved in the store. When my oldest began actually expecting this sort of royal treatment, I starting learning now to say, "NO." She caught on pretty quickly, for the most part. After all, she was on the receiving end of quite a few little presents from family and friends just because she was the only one.
Just before Christmas, when she was almost three years old, I took her up and down the toy aisles of Target to get an idea about what she might want Santa to bring her. It only took a few minutes to become apparent that she thought we were just there to look at the toys she already had.
Look, Mommy! I have that doll!
Yes, you do. Is there another doll you want?
It's as if she hadn't actually grasped the concept of picking out something new. Something she didn't actually own. She seemed to only want to look at the things she already had. (And she didn't have that many toys, she just didn't know that she could want more.)
Fast forward nine years and factor in two more kids. 11YO didn't waste any time at all to tell me she wanted a flat screen tv for Christmas. Since her mom and dad don't own a flat screen tv, we told her there was 'no way in the blue moon of Egypt' (David's words) that she would get one first. She then told us she'd settle for an iPod.
I know, how generous of her!!!
4YO has quite the list herself and it grows and changes everyday. Every commercial on tv seems to be geared toward her age level right now.
Mommy! I wanna buy dat!
Daddy, I want dat!!!
I am trying to explain that she cannot have all of those things she's asking for. Even if we did have all that extra cash lying around, no child should have that many presents at Christmas. Every year, we do seem to 'overdo it' a bit with the Christmas presents. Our kids are lucky to have grandparents and uncles and other family that remember them as well. As parents, we really shouldn't get them much at all. It never turns out that way, however. I either realize I bought too many things for one of the kids and end up picking up a few more for the other two to even it out or it just doesn't feel like 'enough' when it's all wrapped and under the tree. That's when I usually pick up some cheap crap that I wish I hadn't or wrap the sweatpants in a separate box from the sweatshirt.
Don't tell me you've never done that!
It always ends up the same way, though. Christmas Day ends up feeling like there was just too much. When they get more than two or three things they tend to lose track of them anyway. At least, the little ones seem to. The older ones remember everything they got and immediately want to separate their 'loot' from that of the others.
I never imagined how quickly my third child would catch on to the concept of presents, though.
The advertisers really do know what they're doing, don't they? 1YO has already started to point at the tv and scream, "Mommy! Buy! Daddy! Buy!" And they are never the same things that her sister is asking for, mind you. They are things that are for toddlers. Playhouses and dolls and Barbie Jeeps. Yes, she is a 'monster in the making' all right!
Now, if their mother could only shop a little smarter...