Sunday, May 27, 2012

Follow Up: How the World Works.... 5 Year Old

Mackenzie's birthday party was overwhelming probably because I over-invest myself. I feel the need to control things that I cannot control, and that gets pretty exhausting. Throughout the party, storms were moving through, it was cold, and at one point, Jacci point me in charge of some number of kids that all looked the same. The kids all screaming and the running.... uggh, I was spent.

When Mackenzie opened the polar bear, she'd already been bombarded with what seemed like a million other gifts. When she saw what it was, she shared, with everyone, the story about Bailey eating the polar bear. I'm sure she didn't know the new one was from me. Immediately, I was humbled. I'd been hoping replacing this toy would prove that I'm reliable, trustworthy, and a pretty cool Auntie. However, she was just happy to have a new polar bear.

I also bought her the movie Dolphin Tale.

A few months earlier, I'd taken Mackenzie to see the movie and she still talks about how much fun she had and how much she liked the film. So when I was asking Jacci for gift ideas for her daughter, Jacci instantly said, you should buy her Dolphin Tale... Mackenzie still talks about it. (The thought hadn't crossed my mind...)

When Mackenzie opened this gift, she jumped and screamed and said she couldn't believe she got the movie. As soon as the family got home, she began asking when we could watch it.

The coolest part of her birthday, though, was that when I explained to Mackenzie and Caleb that I was going to leave and be gone in North Carolina for about "30 sleeps," they immediately wanted to turn the movie off and play with me. So, the kids and I played until they had to go to sleep. I put them to bed, and Jacci told me that Mackenzie mentioned getting Dolphin Tale as being one of the best parts of her day.

  • Kids are pretty cool. Though they all tend to look the same when you don't know them.
  • I should not be put in charge of massive amounts of little kids, even for a second.
  • I shouldn't expect reactions from people, allowing them to react how they want to, not how I want them to.
  • Taking time out to play with my niece-phews has, and will continue to, enhance my life.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How the world works to a (soon to be) 5 year old.

A few weeks ago, Mackenzie and I were playing in the yard. (Sometimes, my niece-phews bring their toys outside so they have a lot of options for their games.) Unfortunately, Bailey got super excited and chewed the head off of a small, plastic polar bear. Mackenzie discovered it and began to cry. Panicking, because I remember how much it saddened me to lose a cool toy, I told Mackenzie that since her birthday is coming up, I'd replace the headless toy (and proceeded to throw away the gross, slobbery one).

Yesterday, I was pacing the aisles of the Toys R Us when a worker directed me right to the same small figurine. The excitement of actually finding the toy soon faded when I realized that the stupid hard plastic mold of a polar bear was $8. What the hell? Eight dollars for something you can't cuddle or even watch on a television? Ridiculous. For a few seconds, I debated buying something else; something that she would use and love "forever." I know that she'll be bombarded by a million toys for her upcoming birthday and that the polar bear figurine would go unplayed with. I didn't want to fork over $8 when I knew I could find something cooler.... but, then, I had a realization....

I promised my niece that I would replace her polar bear. I didn't say, I'd only replace it if I thought it was appropriately priced. Although she's young and may not remember or even fully appreciate the polar bear in a few years, when she unwraps it in a week, she'll know that I kept my word and got her the toy. It's important for my niece-phews to understand that I'm someone who is worthy of their trust and that I'm not just saying things to say them. Mackenzie is perceptive and has an excellent memory. I don't want to be someone in her life who tells her one thing and fails to follow through; I know what that's like. I want this little girl to feel heard and validated. And, I understand that I'm perpetuating the materialistic culture in which we live, but I'm using it to follow through on my promise to a little girl.

Life, to a (soon to be) 5 year old, consists of the relationships she is building, the lessons she's learning, and how much fun she can have before the responsibilities of being an adult hit her. I'm thankful for having the opportunity to be such a big part of her life and watch her grow. Even if that means paying $8 for a little toy that will sit on her shelf.