Why did we make a football cake for Aunt Debbie, who does not watch, or play, football, for her birthday? Why did my kids want to hang a Kansas City Chiefs blanket on the banister as a "Happy Birthday Banner" for her visit? Because her birthday (May 3) falls too close to Rob's (April 23.) And he was traveling on his birthday, so she got the overflow of all the things Josiah and Gabrielle didn't get to do for their dad. Sometimes it's hard not to make other people's special days all about you.
There are times that I wonder if my kids are a bit self-centered. Okay, I don't wonder that at all. To a degree, all kids are selfish, some are just more successful and obnoxious about it.. Shoot, that's true of all types of people, of any age. Anywhoodle, I guess what I mean is that I wonder if my kids are self-centered beyond repair, and if I'm not doing enough to address it. I don't think about it too much, because I spend a lot of time wondering if they'll ever stop picking their noses while they talk to complete strangers about our cats. (There's a lot in that sentence to digest, I'll let you decide for yourselves which particular part of that situation I worry about.)
For Debbie's birthday, we picked her up from the airport at 10 and then took her to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Because what first grade teacher wouldn't want to spend one of her few days off, her birthday no less, surrounded by the most field-trip over-loaded place in the Denver Metro area? So why did we do it? Because we live about as far from the airport as you can get and still be considered within the suburbs of Denver. Also on that side of town? You guessed it. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science. So it just seemed smart to go there on our way home. And the last time we went, I was the only adult with three kids. I thought the two adult, two kid ratio would be more fun for us all. That's right, we planned what to do with Aunt Debbie, for her birthday, around what would be the most fun and entertaining for us.
We ran into a little trouble while there, but nothing we couldn't handle
So am I teaching my kids to be selfish? Maybe. Then again, Aunt Debbie is a first grade teacher, probably the best one on the planet, and she does it because she loves it. So she actually does enjoy things that other grown-ups might not. She's also their aunt, and my sister, and she loves us. She wants to be a part of our lives, and, well, museum visits are a huge part of our lives. Sometimes I think the most special way you can show someone love is to simply invite them to participate in your life. To welcome you into the daily routine, the regular chores, the repetitive arguments and struggles- well, to do that, you're showing them that you trust them. I want my kids to learn to be themselves around those they love, so they can then learn that people love them just the way they are. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they're loveable anyway. On top of that, people feel validated and valuable when they share things that they are excited about with others, and those people share their excitement. It's a bonding experience, and such an important part of developing a child's self-identity and self-worth. (Hear that, Rob? Think of how validated I could feel if you would just get excited about SHOES?!)So we went to the museum, we made a football cake, and we gave her Nerf guns as a present.
She also got to ride on one of the metal wolves outside the museum which may have been the best part for her.
But my kids also drew her many pictures, writing "I love you Deebie" on them. They tried to give her their own toys, wrapped in the blankets off of their beds. They woke up this morning asking "What are we going to do for Aunt Debbie's birthday today? What does SHE want?" I think, so far, they're not worryingly selfish.
But give us time. I have more than a decade to corrupt them some more...