Toys. They’re everywhere. I can’t find one room that doesn’t have a toy in it at this very moment. Not even the bathrooms, and there are three of them. We can’t help it that our boys are so adorable that everyone who knows them buys them things. (Yes, Sheldon, that was sarcasm.) At least, that’s what the guilty parties say when they show up with the toy bags in hand. I’ve even heard, “But they’re just so CUTE.” We can’t help it that they have a grandmother and grandfather and great-grandmother and extended family members who can’t resist spoiling them; in fact, they proudly announce, “That’s our job.”
If you noticed that my husband and I haven’t been mentioned in the list of guilty parties, that was not an oversight. We don’t even give the boys a chance to ask for toys at the store. And, on the rare occasion that they do, we are quite capable of saying, “No.” Funny how that tiny little word can be so darn difficult for some people to say. But, before you get the wrong idea, we are not turning into Herr Meisterburger Burgermeister. (No idea what that means? You need to brush up on your Claymation Christmas movies, my friend.)
My husband and I believe the boys need to earn toys or spend their birthday/holiday money on them, rather than get them simply because they batted their impossibly long eyelashes at us. We also teach them how to walk through the toy aisle and LOOK, not BUY. You’d think that’s a foreign concept to some of our ever-so-loving older relatives. Believe it or not, you are, in fact, allowed to leave a store without buying a toy. There are no toy police at the exits who force you to go back in and buy toys before they let you walk out the door.
But, I’ve given up on fighting the forces that are beyond my control. I’ve let it go. *Cue Disney song… NOW!* I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I can parent only my children; I cannot parent my elders. I have tried making suggestions and making those tough phone calls and having those tough conversations with them. It’s a delicate balance because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; but, on the other hand, it would be great if our parenting style were supported and reinforced by everyone who comes into contact with our boys.
Just typing that last sentence, though, felt foolish. These types of things don’t happen in real life, and I come from a very long line of stubborn people. If they want to spoil our children, they are going to do it, come hell or high water.
And, let’s not forget the simple facts. My parents were not sure that they were ever going to get the chance to be grandparents. My grandmother was not sure that she was ever going to know the joy of holding a baby with her blood running through its veins again. For the first year of his life, our older son commonly was referred to as “The Blessing” and “The Miracle.” I never called him that because I thought it was a pretty hefty burden to place on a young child; once his tantrums and potty-training nightmare occurred, those nicknames quickly fell by the wayside, anyway. So, these people waited years for us to have children, and they celebrate their childhood with toys.
There are worse things in the world that grandparents and great-grandparents and other relatives can do than spoil children. Because of my husband’s and my parenting style, our boys are not yet spoiled rotten. We will continue to do everything in our power to prevent that from happening, and we know that truly is not the intention of anyone. They love our boys so much, and we are so grateful for that. Truly. And, not a day goes by that I don’t think about how blessed our boys are to have all of these people in their lives.
In the meantime, we will continue to make suggestions about timing for toys and the conversations to have with the boys prior to handing them their new toys. And, we will continue to add toy tubs to our growing collection. But, at the end of the day, I’ve learned another important lesson in parenting: not everyone is out to sabotage you, even if it feels that way because you just stepped on the third toy of the day. What the Hell?
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