Thursday, December 27, 2012

what's the value of x

when i was a kid, i can remember Christmases as a time of serious magic and anticipation.
i know i had to make lists, but i don't really remember any of them specifically. i remember spending Christmas eve at my papaw's house (crowded and overflowing with family that didn't leave until well after dark) and getting updates from my uncle John on whether Santa was close to our street (whenever he went outside to smoke).
i remember wanting to go home quickly on Christmas eve so we could get to bed so Christmas morning would show up much quicker.
i think, but I'm not sure...the biggest thing we (my brother and i) ever asked for was a TV or a gaming system (Sega genesis- i miss you)
and those things lasted. we played Sega (sonic, *sigh*) until our hands would be sore. Jesse- probably played madden or some other football game, sonic was pretty much strictly my domain.
so, after Christmas this year, i was reflecting on my childhood Christmas memories and watching my children and i realized that so far, we have dodged the "big" gifts.
Lily typically doesn't ask for a whole lot...and what she does ask for isn't outrageous and normally stays within her age range.
Amelia and Cain aren't old enough yet to ask for "things".
I've watched on facebook as friends and family have posted pictures and lists of things they or their children received. I've read or looked at some with mild embarrassment.

let me say this, we are beyond blessed with family that seem to hit the nail on the head with the gifts they buy for our kids. seriously, they LOVE everything they received. they are thankful and very happy with everything. thank you, everyone, for the thoughtfulness that you all put into their presents. it means the world to me and to them.

it seems anymore, as the years have passed, and i have grown up...that kids have upped the anty on what they require for Christmas. it's no longer all about bikes or dollhouses. it's about iphones at age 6...tablets, ipads, ipods, and kindles. super high dollar, easily breakable, and high responsibility items.

as a parent, that scares me.

we've made the decision that our kids wont receive these as gifts. that means if Lily wants a kindle or a tablet, then she will earn money and pay for it herself...and then she will only use it at allotted times. as far as a phone or an ipod? nope, sorry. it wont happen. seeing kids walking around everywhere with headphones perpetually in their ears? it hits a nerve with me. you have to have music on constantly? why??

aren't we 'connected' enough already? do we really need to separate ourselves more from each other? I'd rather Lily ride her bike outside. I'd rather her read a real book..or ask one of us to play real checkers with her. am i old fashioned? absolutely. judgemental? a little bit--but i try not to be. but when i see a young child 100% engrossed in a cellphone game...or ignoring everyone around them with their's just rude. there has to be limits. there needs to be some respect taught to our kids. if you can do that while they have these high end items, go you.

i just want to make sure my kids know the real value of money.
we haven't made the smartest decisions when it comes to money and i definitely don't want my children to make the same mistakes that we have. in my mind there needs to be a shut off. where when a child asks for something outlandish, you should be allowed to say no...and explain why.

if Lily wants something that's costly, then she can work and earn money to pay for it herself...and if it requires data, she can only use wifi or she can help pay for a data plan. these things don't pay for themselves. they require constant feed of prepaid cards or additional money on a monthly plan. they require insurance in case they get dropped in a tub...dropped on a floor and cracked...or simply left somewhere and forgotten. these things happen to responsible adults...and we're giving them to kids. i don't know about yours, but mine has a hard time keeping track of the clothes she had on yesterday...and Amelia's and Cain's binkies? we're constantly losing them! imagine if their binkie cost $400+. we've gone through 6 with Amelia alone. and no lie- Lily has a pair of pj's that we CANNOT find. she literally lost them. they've vanished.

so, if you're reading this and you're a parent who has bought your child or children high ticket items this Christmas, don't get your feathers all ruffled. it's okay with me if you do...i just don't get it. what happens if next year, the bigger-better comes out? will you one up yourself and get that one next year and discard last year's? and what about the year after that? they're always getting better with technology. will your child still appreciate a thoughtful handwritten letter as a gift? or will they look for more?

I'll be honest- that was my wake up call. several years ago, lily was opening gifts and when they ran out, she seemed sullen and asked, "is that all?" and i realized we were doing it wrong.

since then, we've tried like heck to instill a value to all things...and showed that some things, like love, are invaluable. we've tried to teach that things are just that...they're things. you cant take them with you when you die.
we've also shown her that a gift is a GIFT, and you should treat it as such by taking care of it and treating it in a way that would make the gift giver proud and happy to have given it to you.

so today, while working ahead in math, we were working to find the value of x, Lily stopped me and asked, "in math, is there ever an x that you cant put value on?"

and i had to stop and write this.

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