Irreverent Mama

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bekah's iPod was stolen from her locker a couple of weeks ago. She hadn't secured her combination lock sufficiently it seems, and a brisk shake was enough to loosen it. (This, at any rate, is the theory of her two older siblings, who have more recent experience than I with high school lockers and combination locks -- which, evidently they're not making as well as they did when I was in school ...)

So, the girl has no iPod. She loves, loves, loves her iPod. Listens to it all the time. Is never without her music. So, not surprisingly, she asks for one for Christmas. The new one. The iPod Touch. Which, having seen one owned by one of Daniel's friends, is a very snazzy gadget indeed. One can see the appeal. Hell, seeing the thing has me, who has never owned any kind of MP-3 player, wanting one, just for the extreme coolness of the thing. So sleek, so well-designed, so very clever.

However, a little quick research tells me it costs $330. Before taxes. Which puts it solidly outside my Christmas budget. I might be able to manage that for one, but not for all three of them. Bekah suggests a compromise: "It can be my only present, and I don't need a stocking." I try to picture a Christmas with one gift the size of a thickish credit card and nothing - nothing! - else. Besides, I've already bought stuff, so it's too late anyway.

We sit on my bed and have a Serious Talk, in which I explain why her suggestion, generous as it is, doesn't really resolve the difficulty, and how I just don't feel I can spend that much more on one child than I would be on the other two. I ask if she has any other ideas. At this point, however, she is mute with despair. Possibly anger. Definitely mute.

"Well, love, I'm going to go do the dishes now. You think about it, and in a little while, we can do some brainstorming." Perhaps I got a nod, but perhaps that was just her head wilting a little closer to the bedspread.

As I do the dishes, I suffer. I want to buy the damned thing for her. I have a couple of ideas, in fact, as to how it could be managed, but I'm keeping them to myself for now. I don't want to leap in and solve this problem for her. I want her to face the reality that satisfying this desire of hers would result in injustice to her siblings. I want her to wrestle with it.

But I don't want her to suffer! And I have a possible solution or two! And I could just run up there and fix it for her right now! And I sternly tell myself to Knock It Off, and I finish the damned dishes. And tidy the kitchen. And clear the dining table. And sweep the floor. And mess about with bits of paper on the end table. All the while one ear is cocked to the upstairs bedroom. I don't hear any slamming of doors and drawers. I don't hear any sobbing. Is this good or bad?

Just as I am about to pop with maternal angst, I hear her on the stairs. She swings round the newel post to face me. Her face is not blotched, though her eyes are a bit puffy. And she is smiling.

"I have decided I don't want the iPod." And she proceeds to lay out her new idea for her Christmas gift, a clever, creative, grown-up one. (Which I will not describe at the moment, so as not to distract the flow of the narrative.) And the iPod? "I can save up for one and buy it in the new year. If I get any Christmas money, I can use that towards it, too."

Imagine. A fourteen-year-old, denied her heart's desire, does not scream and rage, does not slam doors, or hurl things about her room, nor even stomp on the stairs; she does not rail against the injustice and hate me for not making enough money and her siblings for stealing resources that might otherwise be hers. Instead, she faces facts, changes direction, and comes out with a different, creative solution.

I am so proud of her.

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  • I'm in awe. Facing the 3-year-old new trick of wanting everything and not understanding when she can't have it (was that clear?), I'm dubious how long it would take for us to gain that level of maturity.

    You're my hero.

    By Blogger Alli, at 1:51 p.m.  

  • I think you've raised a cracker in that one!!

    By Blogger john.g., at 2:35 p.m.  

  • Alli - Your hero? Gee, thanks!

    Deferred gratification is tough for little ones. But start now so you, too, can experience this wonderfulness in ten or so years!!

    I do think it's important to let them writhe on the horns of their dilemmas, at least for a while, instead of racing in to the rescue every time. It's really hard as the parent, but vital for their emotional growth.

    (I KNOW it helps that she's my third - you learn on the job when you're parenting!)

    John - Thanks! I agree. Ain't she great?

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 3:30 p.m.  

  • That's a lovely story. You should be very proud.

    I always wonder about this. At the school where I teach, students leave their lockers unlocked on purpose. I don't quite get it!

    By Anonymous Naomi (Urban Mummy), at 9:36 a.m.  

  • Oh well done you..clearly you are doing something fabulously right in bringing your kids up..gawd my jaw would have been on the floor at her response.

    By Blogger Wendz, at 1:15 p.m.  

  • Hey, what a girl! You're right to be proud. Isn't it grand when they just get it?

    By Blogger The Boy, at 8:05 a.m.  

  • Hi,
    My mouth is still hanging open. As a single divorced mother of 2 teenagers, I applaude you! You have done an EXCELLENT job raising her. We have our moments, some thrilling, some horrible, but at least we are all still together. Bravo and keep up the good parenting!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:01 p.m.  

  • Good for you!
    That's just plain, good ol' mothering, that is.

    By Blogger Denguy, at 5:43 p.m.  

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