So back when I was still referring to the small child as the tiny child…probably 3-4 years ago now…a remark was made to me about how spoiled my child was due to the number of gifts he had received for Christmas. We were not at home, and the gifts were not from us, but from grandparents, aunts & uncles who love him desperately and gave him gifts from their hearts because they love him.
He loves them back…not because of the gifts, but because they shower him with love & attention every time they see him. They hug him & kiss him, they talk to him & read to him, they play with him & snuggle with him, they tickle him & wrestle with him, they take him on adventures & hang out with him. They make him feel important to them, and he adores them. He loves gifts – what child doesn’t – but he looks forward to seeing them more than anything in the world, regardless of whether or not gifts are involved.
Just to illustrate that I’m not exaggerating, last Christmas when we were there, we could hardly pry him away from his grandfather for the entire visit. Wherever Pap when, the small child went. If Pap was doing a puzzle, so was he. If Pap was reading, it was most often to the small child in his lap. When we all gathered for Christmas dinner, he was snuggled up under Pap’s arm or on Pap’s lap the entire time, to the point that some cousins (big, strapping cousins who had graduated from college) were a little envious because they weren’t getting the attention. I want it to be like that for as long as it can be…those two have a relationship that needs as much fostering as possible, because it won’t last forever (on this earth), and the small child should have as many wonderful memories as possible with that extraordinary man.
But back to the grievance, because what is Christmas without some (petty?) rant about something that annoys the snot out of you, and thus becomes part of your Christmas family folklore? I responded quickly, and with some indignation, that he was not spoiled, and the rejoinder to me was a comment pointing out all the toys he was getting for Christmas, and how is that not spoiled? I am not naive. I know that we all are greatly spoiled. Our lives are comfortable. Our Christmas Wish Lists contain our wants, because our needs are more than met already. Many of us (myself included) show our love to those we love through the gifts we give. My response at this point to say that I know he is materially spoiled, but he does not have a spoiled attitude. It has been important to us from the very beginning to make sure that he is always appreciative to those who give him gifts…that he always says thank you with love & hugs, and that when he is unable to say so in person, we (together) write a note to convey our gratitude.
So I was somewhat put out by this presumptuous comment, and completely put out when there were further (unnecessary) statements to the effect of how their child would not be spoiled, that they would not parent that way, that there was always a trash can into which the overabundance of gifts could be deposited on the way out the door.
Seriously?? So they would be willing to deprive the grandparents, aunts & uncles who love their child of the joy of giving gifts and seeing their child enjoy them? Surely you can’t be serious!
Further (and this is what really got my undies in a bunch), this is someone who , along with the rest of the grands, has been spoiled – very spoiled – for their entire lives by the very grandparents, aunts & uncles who are now spoiling my child. Not to mention the fact that the spoiling is not limited to when they are babies. They are spoiled all the way to (and into) adulthood. Why? Because they are loved. Very, very loved. By lots of people for whom one way of showing that love is giving gifts. This love extends to spouses. And it extends to their offspring…because now they have one of their own.
How does that disconnect occur? How can such a judgment be made about my child without immediately recognizing that they are the proverbial pot calling the kettle black?
I suppose now I’m wondering, and with more than a little interest, if they will live by the principle that was voiced to me, or will they do as we all have done…be happy that their own offspring is loved with the depth and breadth that he is. My personal opinion is that they will accept with graciousness any gift that is given, and that the conversation of a few years ago was an instance of firmly inserting a foot in a mouth by verbalizing a judgment that should have been kept to oneself. How often we do that, especially when we have not had the benefit of the experience we are judging.
So with that…Merry Christmas. May you be spoiled way beyond your expectations.