Monday, September 3, 2007

Life Lessons

Sunday afternoon, between services, we drove into town to pick up a few things that Shawna needed (hairspray primarily-she said the hairspray was $1 more per can here locally, so we had to make the drive; $130 worth of clothes later, I think I see an ulterior motive).

At any rate, Lex and Gentry asked us, walking in the store, if they could have a toy. We, being recent Ramsey converts, told them no, but that they could each pick out a candy. We finished shopping, and took them to the candy aisle. Lex asked if she could have chapstick instead; we told her yes. When we got to the checkout, Gentry saw that Lex had something other than a candy, and got a little upset.

"Lex got something diff'went than a candy!" he said. "That's not faiw!"

Shawna shushed him-told him something about life not being fair, but that he should buck up, because it'll build character.

One thing I've learned though about child-rearing: the whole tantrum thing is kind of like lice-it jumps from kid to kid faster than you can kill it, and Lex jumped in on the action right away, and said that since Gentry got a candy, she should too.

"No," Shawna said, "you got some chapstick instead. That's what you said you wanted."

"But Gentry got a candy! I should be able to get a candy too! That's not fair!" She folded her arms across her chest, stuck out her lower lip and glowered at the two of us (it's this new thing she does; I think she thinks she's a teenager. That whole pouty, lip out, hip cocked, glowery-look thing brings back many memories of living with my sister between the ages of, oh-I'd say nine and nineteen).

We finished checking out, and headed out to the car, mistreated and traumatized children in tow. Let me say this: we've got good kids; they're beautiful, smart, talented and very kind-hearted. But I don't think it's cute or funny to see them act as though they're entitled to anything they desire, on demand. I've seen too many children who actually do have it rough, and heard too many stories of my fathers childhood, to allow them to grow up under the misconception that life will simply grant you your every wish because it's fair. And somewhere, apparently, we've gone wrong in that department.

So, when we got in the car, I turned around and told both Lex and Gentry that their behavior in the store was unacceptable. "Lex and Gentry: you guys have it very good," I told them. "There are millions of kids all over the world that would give anything to have everything that you guys have." It actually affected them, I think. They're old enough to recognize that they are very fortunate.

"When we get home," I told them, "we're going to take most of your toys, and put them in the garage until you can learn to be thankful for what you have." They looked at me doubtfully. "I'm serious," I told them. "Furthermore," I said, "when we go out to eat, you guys are going to share a meal! Somehow you have to understand how blessed you are, and the only way that I know how to demonstrate it is to let you live without for a few weeks." They said nothing.

We got home, showered and changed for evening service, and went on to church. After service, Mother and Dad invited us to have dinner with them as there was no school today (happy Labor Day folks). The waiter came to take our order, and when it was Lex's turn, she ordered the kid's pizza meal. Gentry ordered a cheeseburger. I paid no attention as I was chatting with Dad about work. Lex waited for a few minutes, and as soon as the waiter had had enough time to put the order into his computer system, she said, "I thought you weren't gonna let us get our own meals, Dad?"

I stared at her-not quite sure what to do (I'd completely forgotten). Lex forgets nothing, but doesn't remind until it's convenient. Mother looked at us questioningly, so Shawna explained. We decided to let it pass this time (especially since Mother and Dad were paying).

Then a few minutes later, Gentry, who'd been sitting quietly, spoke up and said, "If you put all ouw toys in the gawage, then Daddy won't have anywhere to put his caw."

It's humbling that he cares so much about my car! Sometimes I wonder: who's really in charge here?

For the record, as of tonight, my car is still in the garage...

7 comments:

Mother said...

PJ
If I remember right, you taught your sister the "whole pouty, lip out, hip cocked, glowery-look thing, minus the hip cocked you mastered that trait to perfection. After all you are a TRUE Baglin. Still to this day I can tell when you "Didn't get your way. " As Alexis & Gentry's Grandma I hope that you don't take to many of their toys and put them in the garage. But as a parent I understand the job you have before you. lol

Deanna said...

Well if your brother tried to kick you, missed and kicked a hole in the bathroom wall you would do the whole lip out, hip cocked with a glowery look thing too!=)lol.
I think it must just be the age PJ. I am having the exact same trouble with my kiddos right now. Can't leave target without spending at least $20 on STUFF just to keep the kids happy. But the happiness soon dissolves into a "need" for more. They are just too stinkin' precious its so hard not to give in!!!

Katie Booker said...

PJ,
I feel your pain. Every time I step into a store Logan thinks we are shopping for him. He will pick up at least 15 different items throughout the store and say its something he has wanted FOREVER!!!!!!!
I have finally come up with a plan that hopefully will work.
When we walk into a store, if he asks for a toy...one toy from his room is being put in a bag. If he asks for another toy (whether he forgot the plan or not) then 2 toys go in the bag...and so on!
Once he realizes that he isn't going to get something every time we go to a store, then maybe I will surprise him with something!

Yes our kids DO indeed have it very good!!! I thank God that we are able to give them things, but at the same time I do not want a spoiled brat and therefore sometimes I will be saying NO!

SheGazelle said...

Ok, you've all managed to frighten me significantly with your stories.

I realize that childless people are not usually welcome in these conversations, but it's a risk I'll take.
pj, I think you're making this all up because I've never seen your kids be anything but cute little darlings doing funny kid things.

No really-I think my mom worked her "magic" on me mostly when my "I WANT IT!" antics became a public display in the store. Yeah, I'd say what I learned was that it's better ask quietly than to try to make the lady behind us in line feel sorry for me.

PJ said...

WOW! With family like that, who needs enemies?!?! Next thing you know, they'll be blaming global warming on me! ;-) (that was for you, Shane).

Ok-I will say, they got the pouty thing honestly (I'm can pout with the best of them), but the whole "throw a fit" thing? I don't think so! Mother, maybe you can attest to that (you see, Dad had this thing he did when I got out of hand like that...).

Katie: Cool idea; maybe we'll try it! I don't mind doing for my kids, I just want them to have some perspective, you know? To realize that they are SO BLESSED!

And gazelle: at some point, I'd like to introduce you to my kids (as it's obvious from your observations that you've never met them...).

SheGazelle said...

hehehe...

Well, maybe if your kids listen to all the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events, they will incur a wonderful sense of how fortunate they are. I'd say the Baudelaire orphans are a bit worse off than most kids I know.

Shane said...

Did I miss something about global warming?

That is a very touchy subject for me. I DO BELIEVE in global warming you know. It is for real. It doesn’t have anything to do with burning fossil fuels though. Really, how stuck on ourselves are we to think that we as humans can change the climate of the world? I think their once was an Ice Age, right? Global warming has been going on long before automobiles ever existed.

Anyways how did we get on the subject of global warming? I thought this post was about Life Lessons?

Our job is to make our kids lives better then ours was, right? But it can’t stop there because if so my job would be done already! Our kids will never know how much they are really blessed until they are much older. I do not want to teach my kids solely that they are blessed, it would do better justice to teach them how to be blessed. Love God, Pray, Pay your Tithes, Pray, give in Offerings, Pray, Love God, Pray and Love God. Teach them that and they will continue to be blessed long after we are gone.

I told Deanna, the next time our kids throw a fit in Target at the checkout stand to buy a candy, instead of putting them on time out, make them pray and ask God to forgive them for being bad. The next time they fight over, whatever, make them get on their knees and pray – and ask God to forgive them for fighting.

I have been known to take my belt off quite often and the kids seem to listen to me much more then Deanna but I have decided NO MORE spankings or time outs! I’m going to make them get on their knees, close their eyes and ask God to forgive them instead.

What do you think?

BTW – Sorry for the lengthy post.