Dear my sweet bubba love,
Today and recently you have been challenged to understand the concept of gratitude. It is your birthday month and you are a loved child who receives a lot of gifts. I struggle to find a healthy balance. Twice in the past 2 weeks you said “I only got 3 gifts” (now mind you 2 were 50$ gift cards to a store from her abuela )… this struck me. This automatic thought, this word “only” …. Is that what you really feel? Do you feel that quantity is what is important? Is what shows you are valuable? Is what matters? That is what I thought. I asked you, I expressed frustration and disappointment several times at this response. You became somber, you cried even, you don’t like me to be angry with you. So I struggle, how do I teach you this lesson. How do I grow a grateful and humble child? Have I made a mistake? What can I change to shape you differently. This is my doing? Where have I failed? How can I improve?
Do you understand? This is a question I ask myself constantly. I wish I could know what you really truly understand at every moment but I know that is impossible. Language and knowledge are created fluidly, through process and life experience. You learn humility everytime there is opportunity to learn that. You learn gratitude every time there is an opportunity to learn it from others or through yourself. Your understanding of the word LOVE will develop across your lifespan and hopefully these words, these experiences that caused me such heartache will eventually form some of your beliefs of what LOVE or any other concept means.
I was so initially shocked at your comment on the third time you said it in the past week that I responded in anger, then I walked away and wrote this entry to refocus. I guess my anger is fear that I’m failing her, not teaching her what I believe is life’s most important lesson. I fear my window of time to shape her is so short and goes so quickly before she will be less inclined to hear my message and more to hear those of friends, others,… worse the media. Will I have instilled the values that make a decent, loving, kind human who values human connection over things…. Material things.
There is a part of me that knows I give you way to much. I buy you more than you can actually play with. I buy what you want 80% of the time okay more like 90% of the time. But I think I have to stop that. You don’t understand what it means to go without something because you have never had to go without. Do we have to suffer to understand suffering? I thought I could tell you these things, these lessons and you would learn, but I fear that is not happening. I fear that you are growing a sense of entitlement and this …. This scares me more than anything. We are not owed anything in this world, well I take that back. We are not owed things, we are not owed money or toys. But we are owed something…
I do believe a child is an innocent, untouched as it enters the world. Children, you my love, are deserving of Love, shelter, warmth, sustenance (food water) and basic care. You are deserving of experience, of quality time, of my knowledge, experience and my time. You are deserving of my honesty, my dedication and sense of responsibility. These are the big things. These are the good things in a loved child’s life.
Interestingly, I don’t know that children in these loved surroundings see all that they have. I honestly don’t know. I know moments in my own childhood where I saw poverty, children without, children who did not have basic needs met, yet were hopeful and smiling, mostly through traveling experiences with your grandfather. It shaped me, to this day. Do you need to see this to understand it? Am I harming you by providing you too much television, uneducational screentime, toys, candy, balloons and pony rides? How does one find that balance? Do I simply go without myself, do I simply model what is important?
For now these seems my best solution.
- Live the way I want her to live.
- Minimize wastefulness
- Simplify the stuff – keep only what brings us joy, brings us closer
- Spend quality time, truly engaged quality time
- Limit screens because they foster a distracted mindset and promote the need to be entertained and stimulated
- Show interest in her, encourage her to show interest in me and others,
- Embed art, creativity, math, science, reading and writing into her everyday process
- Foster movement through moving myself and cheering her on when she does
- Model healthy living – eating, moving, sleeping, hygiene, socializing, leisure, learning
- Show her the world, give her real world experiences of what is important
- Be balanced – continually re-evaluate her life and ours so that there is balance as much as is possible she has to be a kid too, she has to decompress and find a way to balance what will be a much more stimulating, information full life that myself or her father have every navigated
- Foster consistency in the health routines of life