Recently many family members asked me what Jonah wants for Chanukah. I would often respond with a “he doesn’t need anything” (an answer that grandmothers cannot accept) and follow up with “okay, um….okay… he’s in to robots and science stuff…” But at a recent westside “be a better parent” group, I learned from the jedi parenting master that 4 year olds are in such a “gimme gimme” stage, that now would be the time to talk to them about giving back. That instead of them telling us all the things they want and need, we should encourage them to think about what we can do or give to others.
So I tried that. I sat Jonah down… Told him how lucky we are to have so many family and friends and how nice it would be to give everyone something special. We went through and made a list of all our loved ones. For whatever reason, he thinks my my mom needs a new blanket, my boyfriend needs a mirror and my nananeeds a new pan for making cookies. (All of this stuff may be true).
Of course, the conversation of gift giving didn’t last long as his concern over how many gifts he would get this year prevailed. Just as he was getting in the bath, he asked me to go get a piece of paper and pen. “Why?” I asked. “Because I need you to write down all the things I want for Chanukah.” “Ohhhhhhhh. Okay.”
So, dutifully I obeyed.
Pen & Paper in hand.
Me: So. What first?
J: A volcanU thing. That were going to give Joe-Joe for his birthday. But I want it. A volcanU science explosion thing. I want that.
J: A big shooter gun that would shoot people with a pretend bullet coming out of it.
J: … and a ball to play with… Inside.
J: … a big boat to sail… on the floor. (Pause). What else do IIIIIIIII want?
Me: Hmm… How about a computer game for you to play on Mommy’s computer?
J: No. You don’t have an app store.
Me: Oh. (Pause). How about books?
J: Yes, books. And dress up stuff.
Me: What kind of dress up stuff?
J: Scary dress up stuff. With masks. Like Count Dracula. Or Spiderman, or Batman.
Me: How about an instrument, for music?
J: Yes, I’d really like a guitar. And a tuba. And a keyboard. And a violin. And a trumpet.
Taking notes feverishly.
J: I need new play dough. Different colors. Like purple. Or blue. Or yellow. Or green.
Me: This is a great list. I think that’s —-
J: Whaaaaat else do IIIIIIIIIII neeeeeeed?
Me: Jeez, that’s a lot of stuff. I’m not sure…
J: I need more stuff.
J: Yes. New puzzles. A puzzzle of a volcanU to see all the lava.
Me: Okay, well this is a big list. So I’ll let everyone know.
J: But, mommy, I need 100, ninety, 30, thousand presents.
Me: Gotcha. Alright, well last final thing… ?
J: Oh, I want a (cash) register. That’s like the one at the Zimmer Museum.
Me: I’ll see what I can do.
J: Is that a good list, mommy?
Me: Very good. BUT remember, the holidays are not just about getting. It’s about giving too.
J: But mommy, we don’t celebrate Christmas.
Me: That’s true.
J: Because we’re jewish.
Me: That’s true.
J: So Santa doesn’t bring me gifts on Christmas…
Me: That’s right.
J: So you only need to get me all this stuff for Chanukah. Ok, mom? Just for Chanukah.
Me: Got it. Just for Chanukah.
Good thing there are eight nights.