There's a scene in the classic 1980's movie "Road House" where Patrick Swayze says.. "Be nice until it's time to not be nice." This pretty much sums up where we are with our 3 year old, Benjamin right now. I'm nice. I'm the mommy and my role is to be nurturing and loving and make sure both my children grow up to be respectful of others, appreciative of what they have - most especially the non-material things - and of course in the meantime I have to discipline when necessary. I admit, I'm a big softie when it comes to my children. I of course say "no" when needed, but when it comes to "time outs" and taking away toys or privileges as a consequence - I often find myself feeling guilty and thinking "but they're just babies..." It's tough when they're preschoolers...trying to make sure they understand the rules and what's acceptable and not, without being too soft or too tough on them.
So I'm nice. However, Benjamin has decided that he no longer wants to bathe, so it's time to not be nice. I mean, there are just certain social norms that just aren't up for debate. Bathing is one of them. What it really comes down to is a battle of wills with him. He's at this stage where he will challenge us on things for no apparent reason other than to see which of us will crack first. So on Sunday morning when he refused to get in the bath, I issued an ultimatum - he would not be allowed to play any games on my iphone, or play games on the computer or Wii - until he took a bath. I won, as I stuck with it all day and by Sunday night, he was in total media withdrawal and he finally gave in.
It occurred to me at one point how ironic and absurd it is that 3 year olds these days are so savvy with electronics and media. I mean - Ben's punishment was no iPhone, Wii or computer. He's 3. What's next? He'll be live Tweeting on New Years Eve in Times Square? Developing websites on a consulting basis for a little extra side cash? It also makes me wonder what people my age (29) were doing for fun back when we were 3? After perusing some old pics of my childhood, I concluded that I was trying on my mother's Dr Scholl clogs and her 70's dresses with a sunhat, waiting for my big break as a movie star. My "media"was listening to a narration of "Cry Baby Duck" on my portable little 45 record player. I also had a mouse named "Missy Mouse" that I'd tote around the house. I'd feed her and bathe her and wrap her up in a blanket to snuggle her. Obviously this was before they realized that mice are actually carriers of many transmittable diseases and probably aren't best suited as the pet of choice for a 3 yr old. But hey, it was the 70's - back when everyone was drinking Lowenbrau beer and actually encouraged to smoke cigarettes while pumping gas. The good old days.
Well that was a nice walk down memory lane, but back here in reality, Christmas is upon us. I love Christmas, but I always find myself really torn. I'm so frustrated by the sheer commercialism of it all, and each year vow not to get too crazy over the gift-giving aspect of it. Of course it's nice to exchange small memento's of appreciation with friends and family. And I'm very grateful for what I receive. But everything always seems to get a little out of control, culminating in a Christmas Eve extravaganza where the kids tear open presents in the living room with reckless abandon, barely glancing at the gift before tossing it aside to open the next one. Don't get me wrong...it's wonderful and they SHOULD get to experience that and all the wonder and excitement of waiting for Santa to come and finding the presents they've been wanting all year wrapped up under the tree. But I want them to understand how lucky and blessed we are and realize that as fun as gifts are, it's not what the Christmas season is about. That giving and helping others all year and especially at Christmas time is just as important. They are too young to understand this, but there are people right here in the city where we live that don't have a roof over their heads and warm clothes on their backs. They don't have enough to eat, never mind gifts from Santa under the tree. That just kills me. Thank God for organizations like MACC Charities (Manchester Area Conference of Churches) for all they do. Every little bit counts - monetary donations as well as non perishable food items, blankets, toiletries, etc. We all have something to give this holiday season- no matter how big or small. If each person reading this clicked on the link and donated just $5 - can you imagine what a difference that would make? Or if we each committed to donating some non perishable items from our own cabinets, or an extra blanket? Surely we all have something to give to our local food pantry or shelter.
I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and blessed New Year! Thank you for reading my blog and allowing me to share with you all the craziness, fun, silliness, the ups & downs and adventures of parenting and just life in general :)