We live in a pretty affluent Ohio suburb, with McMansions in every nearby subdivision. And parents who seemingly shell out big bucks to meet their children's every desire. So it should come as no surprise that Mike and I are constantly battling with Mr. B and Miss Monkey wanting More. More. More.
Why can't I play lacrosse? (um, have you heard of $600 going out the window?)
Why can't I have a cell phone like ALL my friends? (Yes, it makes total sense to give you a cell phone when you HATE talking on the phone. And yes, I believe you when you say you won't text too much. You're nearly 11 and you wouldn't stretch the truth to get your way, right?)
Why won't you by me a new outfit from Justice (or Target) every week? Everyone else has WAY cuter clothes (and shoes) than me. (Yes, Miss Monkey, despite the fact that you have a closet FULL of clothes, you have NOTHING to wear.)
Why don't we have swimming pool? Trampoline? Xbox? ...or whatever the latest and greatest thing ALL their friends have. (We don't want to spoil you, my dear children. What kind of lesson would it be if we gave you everything you always want? Don't you know that money doesn't grow on trees...at least that's what my parents told me.)
Why? Why? Why?
More. More. More.
We have purposely chosen not to lavish our children with gifts. We give them a small allowance each week and we require they save their own money to purchase things they really want (like that new iPod or PSP). We remind them (on what seems like an almost daily basis) that they are truly blessed and have more than millions of other children in the world.
Some days I think our message is sinking in...and on others, not so much.
That why this weekend, after Mike left for his 4-week trip to India, I opted to take a break from our area's Memorial Day frenzy and spend a quiet weekend in the country with my parents. It was a return to the simple life...and an opportunity to show my children what is really important.
For those who don't know, I grew up in the rural hills of Southern Ohio and was, for all intense and purposes, a "country" girl. (Not a true country girl that was all into animals or wore gingham all the time, but a country girl none-the-less). I grew up with simple things. One TV in the house with three stations. Fresh grown produce that we painstakingly tended to in a huge garden. Clothes made by my mom or purchased at yard sales. Homemade meals every day. And the closest neighbors were family members that lived half a mile away (friends lived miles away, not in a subdivision and there was no such things as playdates.)
This weekend, I was pleased that my kids experienced many of those simple things. Walking through the pastures. Cuddling with new kittens. Helping Papa with firewood. Target shooting (yes, Mr. B is a huge fan of b-b shooting now). Enjoying fresh picked strawberries. All the while, they were outside. The TV was turned off and they were happy.
On our way home, I was surprised to hear appreciation from both my children. "Thanks Mom. This weekend was REALLY fun. Can we go back and visit again soon?"
I guess the simple life was just what we needed, even if it was just for a few days.