Every year my extended family has a party where our cousins gather for a little post-holiday cheer. Part of the festivities include a White Elephant gift exchange for the adults. Most of us bring great gifts but inevitably someone brings the gift-to-be-avoided and most of the exchange efforts involve ditching that gift.
Last year we ended up going home with the gift-to-be-avoided (it was a squatty potty.) This hurt my son’s feelings. He knows how much time and effort I put into finding a great gift for the exchange.
Giving gifts is something he values and its insulting to him that someone doesn’t treat the experience with as much reverence as we do.
Last year I had no patience for his feelings. My cousins are extremely generous with him and his sister. They get great presents. The White Elephant gift exchange is for the grown ups so what happens inside the White Elephant exchange is not really about him – its about the adults.
This year, unbeknownst to me, he purchased his own white elephant gift so he could participate. Last night he asked me to help him wrap it.
But I couldn’t do it. I know how this plays out. If there are 20 gifts inside the exchange and one of them isn’t a “good gift,” he has a 99% chance of ending up with it. Or worse, if someone trades his gift for something else he’ll be heartbroken.
I don’t usually protect him in this way. I do believe life serves us up the lessons we need to learn and as a parent its my job to let him learn them. However, there is something in the air this year.
As I said yesterday, we need to be gentle with each other.
Or maybe this is just my way of being gentle with myself, of sparing me the heartbreak of watching my son hurt.
Either way, I’m ok with my decision. I think we’ve all seen enough heart-hurt in 2017. If I manipulate circumstances to keep from adding to that hurt I’m ok with that.
What about you? What rules in parenting or life do you want to break right now to make your life a little easier? What would happen if you broke those rules?