This is the first year that E has really *gotten* Christmas. His list has been at times a million miles long, but there have been a few core items that persisted. At first, in a fit of parental over-indulgence, we bought him each of those things. Then I saw the pile in the closet, had a brief moment of clarity, and we decided to pare down a bit. There were a number of reasons, but really it comes down to the fact that we are so incredibly blessed and we don't necessarily want to teach him that he can have everything he wants. Also, our families are very generous with him and in past years Christmas has had to be spread out over days to get the presents opened and given the appropriate amount of attention. With all that in mind, C and I try to be a little more reserved when it comes to gift buying.
So we finally settled on THE perfect gift. The one that was slightly age inappropriate but full of awesomeness and guaranteed to procure shrieks of delight Christmas morning. Today, E told us that he'd been too naughty and that Santa wasn't going to bring him anything. Now, I'm not one to waste a perfectly good scare tactic, but on the other hand the gifts had been bought and wrapped. So I explained that Santa was more interested in childrens' efforts, and that he still had three days to try really, really hard to behave and be a good listener. If he could do that, maybe Santa would reconsider. E thought about this for a little while and then decided that even if he tried to be good, Santa would only bring him *gift of awesomeness* but not *gift I returned for being overkill and unnecessary* and so what's the point of trying to do better tomorrow? So do we stick with our values and reinforce the kid's notion that he's too naughty, or buy the plastic crap so he knows that his efforts paid off?
Also, I kind of think the kid's a super snooper and already knows exactly what he's getting. He's been a little too "on" in a lot of his statements. If that's the case, he may in fact be a sociopath in the making.
*Update* E LOVED the age inappropriate skateboard, looked for the other gift for about 2 seconds, then moved on. I worried about that WAY too long. Overall, Christmas was a success. Even got to give the "It's the thought that counts" talk. Merry Christmas everyone! Pictures soon...
:-) This made me laugh, clever kid. I vaguely remember my parents telling me that Santa does not give gifts on how nice kids are, i.e., that being more nice does not equal more gifts. But rather Santa looks at the heart of kids, and gives kids with good hearts presents. I concretely remember my mom always telling us that list weren't made to get everything on them, but to give the giver a direction. The giver may pick something on the list or find something even better. Good job at trying to reinforce how blessed you already are, and not needing to get everything you want. I really, really respect that.
One option would be to save a gift or two for his brithday? I don't know when that is but if they're slightly over his age, you wouldn't be wasting the gift, reinforcing negative behavior, and you'd still have an appropriate gift later. And/or save the gift for some other random time when he has a streak of greatness and whip it out then. After all, random reinforcement is the BEST kind! Way to be thinking ahead and I totally applaud the "values meet real life" dilemma.
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