A Christmas Wish for My Kids

I had THAT conversation with my seven year-old son yesterday. We had the kind of talk that made me feel like I was super old.

We were discussing his Christmas list and I started to sound like my own mom – telling him that money doesn’t grow on trees and he needs to get a job. Yeah, that and also telling him Santa has many boys and girls on his list, so he can’t be disappointed when he doesn’t get everything he asks for.

Ahem.

The conversation quickly turned to me and about what I had growing up. I was trying to make the point of how lucky he is to have what he has. And of course, he was absolutely stunned to learn that I did not have the Internet when I was his age. His nonverbal expression became even more magnified when he learned more about my childhood…

No honey, I didn’t have an iTouch.

In fact, it wasn’t until I turned 19 years old when I was allowed a cell phone for the first time which we actually called a “car” phone. My parents bought me this phone but I was NEVER to talk on it. Instead, that huge, monster of a phone which weighed near a ton stayed in the glove compartment of my car and was only there in case of an emergency. For the record, I never used that “car” phone, not even once.

No honey, I didn’t have apps. I didn’t have an iPod or an iPad.  Better yet, I didn’t even have a computer.

The first computer I remember in elementary school was a big machine that sat in the corner of my second grade classroom. The only thing we could do on it was type our writing. There were no apps or games. It was like a big ol’ typewriter. That.Was.It.

No honey, I didn’t have the Wii. Or the DS. Or the 5,000,000 other handheld devices that you and your sister have.

The only video gaming system we had growing up was Atari – and it was nothing like what is out there today. My brothers and I would fight over the one joystick we owned which was held together with several pieces of duct tape because it broke nearly every other day. We may have played until our fingers bled, but our lives didn’t seem to revolve around these “things” the way my kids’ lives seem to do today.

No honey, I didn’t have all of those things. But you know what I remember?

Running outside and riding my bike.

I remember building a fort in the woods and catching butterflies. I remember entertaining myself with the amount of toys I had – which to me, was plenty.

I loved my dolls and my fashion plates from Caldor. (Oh-em-gee, remember that store?) I could draw and color for hours with a coloring book my mom bought me from Bradlees. Alright, now I’m really showing my age.

I may not have had nearly half of what my kids have today and yet, somehow, I think my childhood was easier. Life was simpler back then. The sad part is, I think my kids are living in a high tech world of instant gratification and I’m not sure they really understand it all.

And the worst part?

I don’t think they appreciate all that they do have.

Maybe I need to do a better job as a parent to teach them the value of a dollar. And perhaps my kids need a good old walk in the park to realize the gift they have right now – the gift of childhood.

If there’s one thing that I wish was on their list this year, it’s to just enjoy being a kid.

Like it’s 1985.

Now that would be one hell of a Christmas.

Comments

  1. says

    We’ve had this conversation with our children many times. About being grateful for what they have. It’s also the reason we made the decision to not buy them any electronics at this point in their lives. If they would like to save their allowance and buy it themselves, they are welcome to. But so far, the cost has them second guessing how much they actually want an iTouch.

    I do want my children to realize how fortunate they are, how hard we work to provide a wonderful life for them. It’s difficult, to provide for them and have them not take it for granted.

    • says

      That’s the fine line I’ve been walking lately Katherine. Trying to provide for them and giving them both what they need and want all the while hoping they don’t take it all for granted.

      {sigh}

      Motherhood, the toughest job on the planet.

  2. says

    Thank you for stating all the things I feel with my own 7 and 5 year old. Except, I feel like no matter what I say they don’t get it. How can they with all the tech around them in a world that is going at a dizzying pace? So, yes, have reached that old place I never believed I’d get to, where I compare my childhood and find theirs lacking in appreciation, gratitude, and a whole lot of other stuff. I’ll keep trying like you, and do the best I can, as we all do! Thanks again for sharing!!

  3. says

    I read this nodding my head the whole time. I didn’t even have Atari. I grew up in East Germany before the Wall fell and we didn’t have any fancy toys. But somehow I look back and remember my childhood fondly.We had so much fun roaming around in the fields and woods. Simpler times for sure!

    • says

      Yes, such simpler times! I almost feel like it was a “better” childhood, one that was certainly less complex. But, we keep moving forward trying to do the best job as a mom that we can ;)

    • says

      Fashion Plates was the one thing that I coveted as a little girl. It was like the best thing on the planet. I actually still have mine in a box somewhere!!

  4. says

    Just pure genius! Love this post – just super love it! While my kids do have a couple of Iphones and a Wii – I will NEVER EVER let them forget what a joy it can be to just play outside. I wonder though what our parents would have thought of all the devices. Do they really honestly know the joy of peace and quiet an ipod/ipone can bring on a road trip?

    • says

      I totally hear you girl! Believe me, those devices have saved me many a day in the car and especially out at a restaurant.

      I, too, wonder what our moms would have thought about it all and how they would have handled everything we have to juggle…great food for thought for part 2 of this post? ;)

  5. Kathy L says

    My son is 8 and we’ve held off with the electronics. Not having any older siblings has helped. He can use the apps on my phone or Kindle on occasion. We also have a no TV rule Mon-Thu. Is it tough, yes, especially since I work fulltime outside the home 40+ hours a week. But what he does have are scooters, and a bike, balls, bats, and lots of toys and games. He plays outside until it is dark. What we have found is that he is able to better entertain himself and is more interactive then when the TV is on. This has also helped with evening chores, and he has been known to help Mom get dinner ready.

    • says

      I know what you mean! I just want to raise well balanced kids, yet still maintain part of the times. I know we live in 2012, but life just seemed so much easier in the 80′s as a kid. Maybe we need to start a revolution to bring some of that magic back?!

  6. says

    This is one of those really tough parts of parenting, and one I THOUGHT about before kids but didn’t realize how difficult it would be to navigate when I was dealing with real kids in the real world and not theoretical children in my imagination.

    (Also, I totally had a “car phone” It was in a bag. You plugged it into the cigarette lighter. The one I actually used to *gasp* light cigarettes in those ridiculous college years.)

    • says

      Yes girl! I plugged mine into the lighter, too and it was like the size of a brick! And my parents would have been SO mad if I ever attempted to use it for “non-emergency” purposes. Amazing how far everything has come in the last 20 years.

      Kinda makes me scared to think about what’s to come in the next 20. #passthewine :)

  7. says

    I had Fashion Plates… and I LOVED them!

    When I was a teen there was no such thing as a cell phone in my world! Geesh… we didn’t even have a cordless phone! I had to pull the phone as far away from my parents as possible to talk.

    I think Christmas like it was 1985 would be pretty awesome too.

    • says

      Same here Jackie! We had one phone in our kitchen and the cord was always tangled because we would walk with the phone as far as we could to have a conversation. And we thought we were so cool when we finally got rid of the rotary phone and my parents bought one with all of the “buttons.”

      Good times!!

  8. says

    Everything is so INSTANT. I mean, I think about having to wait to rewind a tape when I was a kid. I think about how I had to wait for a TV show to come on ONCE A WEEK. My daughter can watch anything on the DVR or on YouTube whenever she wants. Oh, and she’s two!

    • says

      Yes!! Instant is the word! They tell me they want to watch a show and within seconds through On Demand, they have a million choices with even MORE episodes to choose from. And commercials? They can’t even get through one of them before they ask to fast forward – ugh. Gives me a headache thinking about it.

  9. says

    Funny but we’re on the same boat ride! I thought I was the only one having this conversation with my 7-year old daughter.

    She couldn’t believe that I can last the whole day without any gadgets!

    And yes, the frequently asked question “There was no Google?”

    I am very thankful that I’ve had an awesome childhood =)

  10. says

    I worry about this, the sense of entitlement that children these days seem to have. I hope I can raise my boys to appreciate what they have. I know you can too, Heather.

  11. says

    Amen to that, Heather. I remember super simple, extremely happy summers surrounded by cousins, playing outdoors, back in Lagos, parents busy doing grown-up stuff so we could roam freely. Times are different now for multiple reasons but we’re lucky that we experienced such carefree days.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours x

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