3 under 3


Posted on: November 13, 2013

Lately, I’ve been thinking we have created three monsters. Spoilt brats. Ingrates.

I don’t even know how it happened. We don’t, as a rule, buy them toys and things unless it’s for their birthday or something special. We try not to get them treats all the time when we go out. We expect them to do a reasonable amount of things for themselves (making breakfast, putting things away, keeping rooms tidy -which, by the way, doesn’t happen and it’s a miracle no-one has broken a limb trying to get in or out of a bedroom yet).

I have even started introducing the idea of making donations to toy drives and clothing appeals. The perfect opportunity came up a few weeks ago with the devastating fires that ripped through our beloved Blue Mountains. Many families lost everything. So the kids and I put together some toys they no longer play with and sent them down. They were more than happy to participate and felt very proud to be making some other kids happy.

And yet, somehow, we have got three kids with so much stuff they don’t know what to do with it. They each have more clothes than they can possibly wear. More toys than they can play with. And more rubbishy food than they need to eat. And their attitudes stink. All of a sudden, they seem to think it is totally fine to ignore our requests to do simple things, like getting dressed in the morning. That we, their parents, live to serve them and grant their every wish. That if we don’t, they can call us idiots and chuck tantrums. None of it ever works, but still they try. And we are both pretty fed up with it.

Who did this? Who raised these ungrateful beasts? Well, we did.

Just a few weeks ago I told Tom of my idea to spend a year volunteering somewhere overseas with the kids when they are teenagers. So that they would learn to recognise their own privilege, and also learn that there are ways of giving back. I thought the teenage years would be a good time for this because they will probably not want for much throughout their childhoods, and as a result, they could one day be in danger of turning out spoilt.

That’s still my plan, but what am I going to do in the meantime? They’re acting like spoilt brats already.

I wish I had the strength to do what some people I know of are doing, and go a whole year without buying anything (apart from food). Could I do that to the family? Should I? Maybe I should…

Or, maybe we should take away all their toys and make them earn them back, by being kind and thoughtful towards others? Is that too extreme? It’s what Tom wants to do, I think.

I don’t know. But I shudder to think what they’ll be like in years to come if we do nothing. I’m almost tempted to cancel Christmas. I feel sick at the thought of bringing more useless crap into our house, for them to wreck and leave all over their bedroom floors. Surely there are better things to spend money on? Maybe we could go on a holiday instead, and get them nothing.

I know it’s not their fault. I know I was probably the same as a kid. I definitely know how messy my bedroom was for many years. And I turned out ok. (Don’t laugh, I did!)

Anyway, this afternoon we are going to have a chat about some things that need to change (certain attitudes and behaviours), and about how lucky they are to even have enough food in their bellies, let alone enough toys to hide their floor. We’ll see how that goes for a start.

4 Responses to "Monsters"

I can’t help but think it’s just the age. Libra’s five and Gemini’s three and lately their attitudes have been pretty upsetting – some of it’s undoubtedly coming home from new schoolmates, but Gemini’s is a special breed of stubborn that I haven’t really seen since Libra was about that age (although he wasn’t as bad about it as Gemini). Tantrums and defiance and throwing things – it’s ridiculous. We keep firm boundaries around what is important and non-negotiable, give them choices where we can, and then make them see the consequences through – so, if they opt to skip dinner like Gemini did tonight, then they don’t get to come out of their room at 9:30p and ask for something to eat. But still, every day there is definitely a battle of wills and I’m often left wondering if there’s an end in sight – surely they’ll realize that they’re better off working with us rather than against us??

Anyway hoping that this phase passes soon, for everyone’s sake, and that y’all come out the other side with your sanity intact (and maybe some perspective on your kids’ part, hah!).

Hey Anna, Coming from a different standpoint, it seems you’re suffering from a well known disease called Middle Class Guilt. You’re not the only one though 🙂 It’s well documented -It seems to stem from a combination of a personal understanding of their own relative stability coupled with an ethical viewpoint of the world. Which isn’t a bad place to be considering all things…. So don’t be too hard on yourself. 🙂

I think your project in giving away belongings to those who are in need is the step in the right direction. Promoting empathy for others, and providing an avenue to assist would maybe a way for kids to learn about where they fit in – socially and economically – in this world.

To expand on what you’ve already done successfully may be a way forward. Maybe there are other local community / charity groups you could interact with – and have the kids be involved with their fundraising/charity efforts??

I’m no child psychologist though..and as always, it is the Long Game you’re playing here. XX

Thanks Sarah.

Of course, Middle Class Guilt. I have heard of it and identified with it. But then forgot about it. Thanks for pointing that out, I don’t feel so bad now 🙂

Yes, I would like them to be involved with helping others, in both the short term and in future. So we’ll keep going with the donations for now, when they come up.

I hope so Jaqbuncad! You’re probably right. I feel a bit better having got it all out, so I don’t think we’ll do anything as melodramatic as taking all their toys away, lol. Yes, some perspective would do us all some good!

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