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...