Monday, January 18, 2010

day of service

I'm glad I finally get that Martin Luther King Day is a day of service.

Bryan and I were happy to head to a local school and help in whatever ways we could and bring the kids along to teach them that helping people in need is not only important, but it feels good too. The kids were excited to write their names on name tags they got to keep forever and to get T-shirts emblazoned with pictures of Martin Luther King and Barack Obama even though Stella refused to wear hers.
After making sure Hamish knew who the faces on his shirt were I spent a good two minutes explaining that Obama is not dead, and that Martin Luther King would very much like Obama if he were alive today.

I would have told him more as I'm turning into one of those annoying lecturing moms you want to punch when you overhear her in the supermarket, but I didn't have it in me because before we could even get out the door this morning Hamish had to be counseled about the fact that there was no surprise present waiting for him to open when he woke up.

The kid thinks that the word holiday equals presents and he salivates as if on cue at the very mention of the H word. When Bryan and I explained that this holiday is about giving and not receiving, he went ballistic as only a disgruntled almost six year old can. Stella still doesn't know the difference, so that takes care of that.

But Hamish. You'd think we kept him in a wooden crate. You'd think we didn't hold him on our laps and tickle him, feed him, read to him, listen to him, play with him, try our best to see the world from his unique point of view and let him fly free whenever possible so as not to smother the little man. We do all those things and more. 

I say this because I grew up feeling deprived and yearning, but I always equated it with feeling neglected by my parents, and misunderstood, and not taken seriously, and chased around the house by a belt-wielding maniac when I forgot to turn the lights off in the bathroom. We don't subscribe to that parenting newsletter and still. Here Hamish is whining about not getting enough STUFF. Every holiday ends in tears. We're not even out of January yet and he's asking how many days are left until his birthday. 

Maybe it's the age? Or maybe it's more genetic than I thought, these feelings of longing, and it's time for me to stop putting it on my parents' shortcomings. He does remind me of me though, that's for sure. And it's not pretty, but at least I have a decade of self-investigation under my non-whipping belt to help him navigate with.


Amelia Plum said...

i want a copy of the blurry picture of you - who took it? i love it!! when my mom came out in december because we thought grandma was dying yet again (trickster that she is) my kids kept asking where there presents were. i had to explain repeatedly that christmas was in less than 2 weeks and, you know, grandma cat is out here because her mom is dying. they were unmoved, i think it's a developmental stage, that egocentrism. it will get better. and your parenting is not to blame

elise said...

bryan took it. he has mad skills. and I think you are helping me realize that it's their age/developmental stage, and that I don't have to regale the kids with what is going on in Haiti in order to get them to see how fortunate they are. though it works for me! but I am older....xoxox