Parenting

Last weekend a severe snowstorm was forecast. Early last week, well before the storm was due to arrive, all of our local meteorologists had us under “Winter Weather Advisories and Warnings” and started round the clock storm coverage. The ravaged bread shelves and run on milk at our local market proved a storm was on its way to anyone who managed to evade the never-ending news coverage of the storm.

As predicted, late Friday night and all day Saturday, we were pounded with freezing cold gusty wind and inches upon inches of snow. Too cold to even let the kids go out and play in the snow, we were officially snowed in. I wasn’t worried about being snowed in, not by a long shot. A native Bostonian, I’ve long known how to handle a good old-fashioned snow storm, be it a dusting, blizzard, or even a Nor’Easter. My eight year son, Jack, loves the snow and he, too, is well versed in all things Winter. We were ready. Or so I thought.

Severe as the storm was, my husband even got the day off on Saturday! This almost never happens so Jack took full advantage of having Dad home and the two of them spent the day watching movies, reading comics, and playing video games together. Jack briefly joined Dad while he shovelled, but the elements were too much for our little guy and he was back inside with a warm cup of cocoa in no time.

By the time we woke up Sunday morning we were covered in a beautiful coat of snow so pure only Snow White could have rivaled its beauty and purity. Having spent the day before literally snowed in, Jack was eager to get outside and enjoy the snow. His main objective for Sunday was to hit up our local sledding spot and do some damage to the freshly fallen powder. I was happy to make this happen for him until I checked the weather and the temperature read 9 degrees, with a windchill below zero. Further destroying Jack’s Sunday Sledding Dreams was a call from my husband who advised me of extreme cold and treacherous road conditions. Alas, we weren’t going anywhere.

While I knew Jack would be disappointed, I wasn’t too concerned. Christmas was just two weeks ago and Jack received many wonderfully thoughtful and generous gifts. Santa, family, friends, and his parent’s (my husband and I, us!) were very good to Jack. Amongst other things, I figured Jack could easily entertain himself with his new lap top computer, GoPro Camera, the latest FiFa video game, or even start reading the latest hard cover edition of Harry Potter which he asked Santa for and expressed pure delight in when he opened it! Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

By 11:00AM Jack was incessantly complaining of boredom. As a mother to a little boy, I understand his need to be outside, to run, and play, and be free. Jack has always been that type of little boy. He loves being outside playing and makes friends with most any child he comes in contact with. So Jack’s initial complaint of boredom didn’t surprise me much at all. What did surprise me was his persistent complaining, unwillingness to take any suggestions as a means of self entertainment, and blatant disregard for every toy, book, or piece of technology he had access to in order to entertain himself.

As the day dragged, Jack’s complaining only got worse. Soon my reaction shifted from surprised to annoyed and finally to disappointed. Despite my attempts at both physically (handing him his lap top, a deck of cards, his iPad, a board game, a book) and verbally offering Jack options, he chose to do nothing. Instead, he moped around the house all day whining and complaining. While I’m sure my final mood was disappointment, I’m not sure if it was in Jack’s decision to not make a choice that would satisfy his boredom, or in myself. I sat thinking about all of the thought, planning, preparation, excitement, and money that went into making his Christmas special. Not just by us, but by everyone who was kind enough to think of Jack and present him with a Christmas gift. I thought long and hard all day about whether or not my husband and I are raising a spoiled child. I wondered if he will grow to have an attitude of entitlement? If so, are we too late to fix it? Do we give him too much? Does he have too much? Does he appreciate what he has? All of these thoughts raced through my mind as I watched my only child sulk around because I’m a “mean mom” for refusing to take him out in hazardous weather conditions.

A few days have passed now and I’d like to report that I found clarity. I haven’t. I have drawn a few conclusions, though. We probably do give Jack too much. We only have one child and he’s a great kid who does well in school and rarely gives us any trouble. I think somewhere we believe that if we have the means to do something for Jack, or buy him something, we should, regardless of whether or not it’s called for or even necessary. He probably already does have too much and that, too, falls back on us. The more and more I struggled internally, the more I learned just how little my internal conflict had to do with Jack and how much it had to do with us, as parents. We need to be accountable for what we choose to give our child and why we chose to do so. Are we doing it for him or to make ourselves feel accomplished, better somehow? This is a question I will ask myself more and more now that I am more self-aware.

Finally, I learned that while Jack really loves all of his cool Christmas stuff, at the end of the day he’s an eight year old little boy who was cooped up in the house for two days, over his weekend and he was bored!

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