The boy who lives behind me got a new AirSoft gun for his birthday. I know this because he's now aiming it into my back yard to "tag" my squirrels.
"All the kids have them now," one parent explained to me by way of excusing the gun and, apparently, the boy's behavior.
With holiday season upon us, it seems like a good time to start thinking about the gifts we choose for our children, and what those gifts say. In the case of the air guns, are we telling our kids that destructive, aggessive behavior is OK, as long as we only aim at squirrels and birds?
I'm setting a goal for myself this year, and I'd like to throw it out for consideration by other parents. What if this year, instead of the high-priced phones or MP3 players or, heaven forbid, cars, what if we focus on *experience*? Give them something they won't grow out of, they won't leave lying around the living room, they will remember for years to come, and, probably, none of their friends got one just like it.
I'd like to give suggestions, but it comes down to individual preferences and values. I'm going to give my son a potted apple tree that he can plant wherever he wants, and nurture and grow up with. I'm also thinking that I will take him to a homeless shelter where we'll help serve dinners, so he can see how lucky we are.
One mom I knew said that, each holiday season, she and her husband would give their child $25 to give to the charity or nonprofit of their choosing. They would then make a project of it -- what type of nonprofit most interested the child? Once the beneficiary was identified, the child could (optionally) go on a matching campaign, where aunts, uncles, friends, etc. could match the child's contribution. The final donation was usually significant.
Let's teach our children it's not about having, but experiencing, giving, and sharing. I bet you, as their interested parent, can think of a great way to make it enjoyable and memorable for them.
P.S. Don't tell my son about the tree -- it's a surprise!