My son just turned six. There was a lot of build up to this birthday – particularly because he wanted a very specific Lego set. He LOVES Legos and they’re easily his favorite thing to do. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of the $10 sets because of course not. He’s had it in his mind for many, many months when he decided that he wanted the “medium” Lego Millennium Falcon. Not the $800 one (thank goodness) but the $170 one. Still not the best case scenario for parents who set rather low budgets for gifts. Not to mention, he hasn’t even watched Star Wars before. He “likes” Star Wars simply because he can tell it happens in space and because his dad likes Star Wars. So, $170 is a lot of money considering he doesn’t even appreciate that “she’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!”
At some point, we pointed out that maybe for his birthday or Christmas he could ask for “cash” for his gifts from other people and then he could combine all of it and MAYBE have enough to buy the Millennium Falcon. He sometimes thought that was a good idea, but other times, it dawned on him that he’d only get ONE gift in the end… MAYBE… so he wasn’t too sure about that.
A few months ago, he asked if we could count the money in his piggy bank. He received this piggy bank as a small gift at his birth from one of my mom’s co-workers at the time. Since that time, any random cash that he received was stuffed in the piggy bank. We hadn’t ever opened it. I knew there were many coins in there, maybe a few $1 bills, possibly a single $10 bill. So we opened it for fun. When I tell you that I could barely get the money out of the tiny hole on the bottom (by the way… why are they so tiny?!)… I was shocked. It makes sense now realizing it was his LITERAL life savings. But he had $150 in that piggy bank! My husband and I were baffled. Where did this kid get so many $20 bills?! My son was PUMPED. He immediately asked if he could go get the Lego Millennium Falcon right then and there. After I explained that he was still $20 short, I said maybe we’d help him out with the rest of the cost and it could be a birthday gift…MAYBE. He was so excited!
Now, I LOVE to give gifts. I love thinking about the person I’m buying for and getting them something that I consider to be what they’d love/need/never buy for themselves. I love surprising people and watching them smile when they open a gift I got them. So, I wanted to let my son consider the fact that MAYBE he wouldn’t get this Lego set. That MAYBE he didn’t know what he was getting for his birthday. So I asked him what else he might want if he couldn’t get the Millennium Falcon. Other Lego sets, the 2023 National Geographic Kid’s Almanac… those all were other things he’d be happy getting. But in the weeks leading up to his birthday, he started really emphasizing the idea of having THE Lego set. He even asked me to help him organize all of his current Lego creations to make room for this sizable Lego set that MAYBE he was getting. The anticipation was there.
I still hadn’t purchased it even though I knew I would eventually. Then the day came. There was a sale going on and what do you know… $20 off the Lego Millennium Falcon. I’ve never pushed “Add to My Cart” faster. Then I went back to the piggy bank and carefully removed nearly every last dime of my son’s life savings. It was sort of hard to do, I won’t lie. We try to spend money on things we need, and rarely on things we want. So the idea of spending $150 on Legos was hard for me to wrap my mind around, but hey, my son was going to be SO happy, and that was worth it for me! Not to mention, he didn’t realize that he was going to be paying for it all himself. I used many opportunities in the weeks leading up to his birthday to teach him to appreciate what we have, and to not be disappointed if someone’s generosity doesn’t result in what you wished. I was anticipating a meltdown if he thought for even a second he wouldn’t get what he wanted.
So his birthday came. He woke up asking to open gifts in hopes he’d see the Lego set that we had been saying over and over that “MAYBE” he’d get. We delivered the bad news that he had to wait until after school to open his gifts. After school, I had set up a scavenger hunt for him to find all his gifts. After running around the house and unwrapping smaller Lego sets and the Kid’s Almanac, gift location #4 had no clue to another present, signaling the end of the hunt. He said, “Well, I guess I’m not getting it.” I said, “And that’s okay, right?” I was on pins and needles. I just kept thinking, “Please don’t throw a fit. Please be grateful. Please don’t cry and force me to give this Lego set to you while you’re crying. Please process this well.” And to my (honest) surprise, he responded with, “Yes. Thank you for my other things!” I cried. And for the two minutes that followed, I watched him enjoy the other gifts. He was really okay with not getting what he truly wanted. When I couldn’t wait another second, I handed him the final hidden clue to where his Lego Millennium Falcon was hiding. He ran and yelped and was SO happy and thankful.
This is a very long anecdote to tell you something I definitely needed to be reminded of: don’t doubt your children.
Sure, they’re often goofy and wild. They don’t understand EVERYTHING you want them to. They might be seemingly too attached to toys.
But they’re also GOOD – and your efforts are not for nothing. Keep it up, mom, you’re really doing it.