This is a story about kid number one. The original baby. The girl who made me a mama. This girl has taught me more in this life than even I can fully comprehend. And it sounds extreme to say, but I think it might be true, that without her, there wouldn’t be any of the other little members of our family.
Because when she came along she changed everything. She made me want to give her the world and be the best I could possibly be for her. And as it turns out, I wasn’t being my best. So I had to make some changes that were hard and scary in my own life. And I didn’t always know for certain that I was doing the right thing. But every time I doubted myself, I went back to this bright little girl and looked into her eyes and asked myself what I wanted most in the world for her. And she helped light up the path, one step at a time. On my arm, she is featured as the sun, bright and warm. A sign that it is time to wake up.
And wake me up she did. She is still teaching me things all the time, even when I’m not ready to learn them. Since she is kid one, she is my first trial run for all the complicated parts of parenting–friend issues and body questions and vocabulary lessons and so much more.
Even Christmas, a time when I used to get to be on “break” is now a time in which she puts me through the paces with a new lesson. For example, this year, she asked for the Playmobil Hotel. For those of you not familiar with Playmobil, they are actually pretty awesome toys. They come with a billion little realistic pieces and are great for imaginative play. Kid one has been into them for a while and has acquired quite a few great pieces over the past holidays–a tree house and a hospital and a “modern suite” and so on. So it didn’t really surprise me that she was asking for another piece and since kid two loves playing with them as well I don’t mind getting them as gifts.
Then I visited my trusty old Amazon account. And here is what I found.
If you look down toward the bottom, you will see the prices from available sellers. New models STARTING AT $549.95 PLUS $45.20 SHIPPING.
(Insert crazy laughter here.)
I love my children, but I will never, ever pay six hundred dollars for a little plastic toy. EVER. I would much rather stay around $100 per kid for the holiday. Like for all the presents combined. However, I’m willing to stretch it in certain cases if it is a toy that the other kids will also benefit from playing with.
But I will never stretch that far.
So it dawns on me that this very well might be the year she is disappointed by Santa for the first time. She has been talking about this ridiculous hotel for months. MONTHS. And when prompted to give some “backup” ideas she doesn’t show much excitement in any of the options presented. So I finally break down and explain to her that this is a really expensive toy she is asking for. And I explain that I don’t understand Santa magic, but I reason that he can’t get her a $600 toy and not get one for everyone else. And I explain that “stuff” really isn’t the point of Christmas and that maybe it’s better to ask for something a little more reasonable.
And I totally believe all these things. But I’m also a parent and that means I have the privilege of making the world seem magical to the little humans in my care for a short, precious time. And Christmas is one of the most magical times of all. And I’m not ready to give up on that magic.
So I decide to exhaust all the possibilities. I scour the Internet and my search leads me to Ebay, where I find a complete used set with instructions for $140.
And then I encounter the moral dilemma: she already knows this is an outrageous toy to ask for considering the price. What does it teach her if it appears? Would it be better to just let her be disappointed and encourage her to be grateful for the things she gets instead? Maybe.
I don’t know the right answer. But I told her dad about my discovery and he agreed to split the cost of the Ebay purchase with me, which means after bidding and shipping it ACROSS AN OCEAN and splitting the cost it still came out to be less than my $100 per kid goal. So I bought it.
And I’m thinking I will probably find a way to sneak a note from Santa into the package explaining how, when the elves run out of materials for a certain toy, they can’t make it any more and those toys become hard to find. But lucky for her, a little girl on the other side of the world outgrew her toy and decided to pass it along so another child could enjoy it. And that the real reason Christmas is special is because of the magic we share with others, not just the magic that is shared with us.
And the same is also true for parenting. One of the many reasons the journey of parenting this little ray of sunshine has been so profound is not because of what I get to share with her, but because of what she shares with me.
This girl is generous. She is grateful. She is kind and bright and loving and helpful. She makes me unbelievably proud every day.
And best of all, she reminds me to see the magic in the world around me. And that is the greatest gift of all.