Friday, December 7, 2012

Curing the Gimmies?

Just like any parent, all FOUR of my big boys' parents worry about the kind of young men we're raising. We work hard to teach them responsibility, kindness, decency, compassion, etc. Most days, I feel we're on the right track. The boys are often praised by teachers, friends' parents, even complete strangers for their behavior. However, they are still kids. They have their "imperfect" moments. Right now, it's a case of the “gimmies" (pronounced GIM-meees).

Of course, with the holidays so commercialized and the kids being bombarded constantly with commercials and billboards and, yes, even wish list requests from family, some of that's to be expected. I mean, at our house, we celebrate Christmas AND Hanukkah, so it’s sort of a double-whammy. And, lucky kids that they are, they're likely to get many of the (reasonable) things on their wish lists. But that's just it...we - the adults - know how fortunate the kids are. We want to instill that awareness, that gratitude for all they have in life, in them. But how to start?

Well, slowly, right? Just before Thanksgiving, the boys went with me to make a Goodwill donation before running other errands. At least twice a year, we go through the toys and clothes and donate the ones that have been outgrown or are no longer used.

Every year, my office does a Secret Santa for our adopted school's needy children. I usually sign up to buy a gift, and if it works out that the boys can and want to come with me to buy it, that's great. This year, we went a step further. In addition to signing up for a specific gift to buy, I spoke with the coordinator about doing a little more. I had hoped to get to help deliver the gifts - along with the boys - but it turns out the deliveries are private and handled by the school. However, the coordinator needed people to buy gifts that weren't chosen off children's wishlists using money people donated to the program. I signed right up for that and coordinated with Jacob and Caleb's mom that we'd work out a time for them to come with me to make the purchases.

We got our list last week and went this weekend. They were excited to get to pick out a new bike and two helmets for two brothers. The shopping trip also allowed us to talk about why we were doing what we were doing. To be honest, I wasn't sure they weren't just tuning me out, until from the backseat, Caleb piped up with, "We're lucky; some kids don't have what we have."

Yes. Yes, we really are lucky. And we've now got a new post-Thanksgiving tradition.

Have you had to cure a case of the gimmies with your kids? How did you go about it?

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family.

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