Of course preparing myself to have a baby boy has me thinking of a lot of different ideas. I always thought it would be easier to raise a girl than a boy — for the simple fact that I am a girl and it felt more relevant to me. Having said that I have never really been a girly girl (nevermind the few years growing up that I was adamant that my sister play Barbies with me). Then I had to grow up fast and, well, my most girly girl self was replaced with real live survival.
Of course I enjoy a bit of dressing up — you know once every year, where I bring out those uncomfortable high heels, and Chris oohs and aahs, and then those shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. I am and always will be most comfortable with myself when I am comfortable. Flip-flops, comfy outfits, and hopefully all that just falls in the background so that others see just me. Not what I am wearing or how it fits. As none of that really matters. I digress — this blog post’s intent is nothing about that at all.
Over the weekend, I came across this article “Why Boys Need To Play With Girl Toys Too” and I thought I wonder what Chris thinks of that? No matter at the moment, because whether he is okay with it or not, the message that I left with that I want to bring in to our parenting (we’ll talk Chris) is that I want to teach my son to care. For some that may mean a boy playing with a doll, or maybe it is about nurturing an animal or pet, whatever the vehicle I want to make sure to show my son how to care. That in my mind starts with Chris and me. For a long time he will watch us, emulate us, and learn the way of the world from our example. If he wants to play with dolls and we do not let him, that sends him a message. You get the point.
And in the end, while I have not really even started this raise-a-child thing, I can tell you I was one (with not the best childhood), and I spent from the age of 9 – 23 babysitting, working in day cares, and nannying — what matters most is that you show them you care. You do this by being present, listening, and appreciating what they have to say. By showing you care, they respond and show that to others. To me that is what matters most.
Chris and I had a solo Christmas. More like it was another day. I was so sick we did not even follow through on the food we were going to make. Instead we watched a few movies and I napped, oh and we slept until 11 am. (What is not to love about that?) We were thinking maybe we would just have today be Christmas Day. I think I am feeling better. It is hard to say as there have been many moments over the last few days where I have felt better, and then whoosh I get hit hard again. No one should ever have to feel this way!
In any case, I was thinking about simplicity. We had a simple Christmas which I love. I absorbed many Christmas trees, gifts being opened, and gatherings via Facebook these past few days, and there are two things I want to mention: opening presents and how to share with others on Christmas.
Opening presents. As a kid our tradition was to take turns selecting a present under the tree for someone else in the family, and when it was someone’s turn everyone gave that person their attention. They could take as long (within reason) as they wanted to open that gift, share gratitude to the giver, and if it were not filled with a million pieces they might even get to put it together quickly. After opening up their present, they cleaned up the mess of paper and ribbons and put it in the trash bag available. You would have your own turn when someone else gave you a gift to open, but you could not hand a gift to yourself. That was our tradition. It has stuck with me. There was a patience, appreciation, and enjoyment with watching each person feel loved and grateful for their gift. Why am I telling you this? Facebook photos yesterday showed crazy amounts of toys, with kids surrounded by them and all the paper and the mess. It makes it hard for me to think that they appreciated them, were grateful to the giver (if they knew who they came from), and I wonder if they cleaned up the mess. Maybe I am horrible, but I think my childhood tradition is one I would like to pass to many.
Which leads me to: share with others on Christmas. Another find on Facebook was a mention of a tradition I do want to start when I have kids that are old enough. This specific family writes a note to Santa on Christmas Eve, leaves a plate of cookies and milk, and each child selects a toy of their own (that they like or no longer play with) and leaves it for Santa to take to a kid somewhere in the world that may not have many toys. A brilliant idea! It is a great way for kids to think about others that do not have what they have and it is a way to have children part with unneeded toys (especially when they are going to be getting more the next morning).
The simplicity of appreciating the gifts we open. The simplicity of sharing with others on Christmas.