I read an article not so long ago about how we should not be angry at our kids when they break something. For example, if they break your crystal vase and you go ballistic, the message you're sending your child is the vase is more important than him.
Okay, I get that. I get that point. So when my toddler Iñigo broke my pale blue garden stool with the delicate leaves and flowers print, I didn't get angry. Instead, I scooped him in my arms, away from the dangerous shards, and told him, "I'm so glad you're okay!"
I'm at a loss these days. Parenting sure isn't easy.
What also really upsets me is when Iñigo plays with his food, throwing it on the floor with glee. Or when Vito asks for food or milk and then he takes a bite or a sip and then says he doesn't want it anymore. Or when Iñigo leaves the refrigerator door open. Or when Vito says, when I tell him to be more careful with his toys or with our things, he replies carelessly, "If it gets lost/broken, we'll just go and buy a new one."
Maybe because I grew up with so little, these things strike a raw nerve. Waste, so much waste! I keep hearing my mother's voice in my head: "Turn off the lights. Finish your food. Take care of your things." You know, stuff all mothers say, except that I know my mother said those things because she didn't eat breakfast and lunch or that she got into debt again just so we can have electricity and water and food and clothes. So when I see my kids wasting, I get upset. One time, after a particularly trying afternoon, I cried, "I work so hard, I don't sleep so I can work all night just to put food on your plate, to buy you your Legos!"
Silly me. They're 4 and 2. What do they know?
I'm grateful that we can afford this lifestyle. There's food, nothing fancy but there's more than enough not just for main meals but for snacks and desserts. The kids don't have a lot of toys but they do have a lot of Legos. They also can play with our iPads and video games. They also enjoy so many art materials. The crayons alone! I spent all of my childhood wishing for the 64-piece Crayola set so much so that when I got a job, I bought myself a box. I never used it. Just stared at it, fingered those slender sticks of colors, and breathed in their waxy smell—childhood dream come true.
My children don't understand how I feel not just because they're so young but because they're surrounded by plenty. My husband and I work so hard to give them a good life. How can I make them understand without withholding things from them? We don't even give them that much. What we give that's plenty is food and our time. Vince and I are there for them all the hours they're awake!
I guess I'm expecting too much. They are so small. But I really do need them to be grateful. It's not just saying "please" and "thank you", which they do say. It's having an attitude of appreciation. I need them to take care of their things, of our things. I seriously cannot have them going about destroying my house and then me pretending to be happy about it! I just don't know how to teach them that Mama loves them above all things but they need to respect Mama's things!
Are they really too young? Am I really expecting too much? Or am I letting my past of a less privileged life overshadow my present abundance?
Father God, please help me be a good steward of the children You gave me and also the material blessings You sent my way. I need my children to know I love them more than any object but I need You to show me how to teach them gratitude. I want to be a good parent and a good homemaker! Amen.