“Hey, come here. Look at this picture.”
I showed my son a picture that a friend posted on Facebook, of a huge pile of Legos that her kids made in the middle of a floor. It was so deep that you couldn’t see the carpet. It had to be three or four feet in diameter. Several pieces were scattered nearby.
“Boy am I glad that you guys never got into Legos. We never really had a mess like that. So many pieces!” I gaped in wonder at the photo, remembering my own youth when my brothers and I would sit among the tiny plastic pieces and lose ourselves in building. My brothers built cars and spaceships. I built houses. Our kids only occasionally played with the sets we bought for them. They made messes for sure during the younger years, but thankfully they rarely contained thousands of Legos.
|Look! No Legos!|
My son glanced at the picture. “That’s because when we would get a set of Legos, we’d put them together and then you’d break them down and put them away. What was the point?”
In an instant I felt like I had robbed our children of great futures, fulfilling careers. They will not be architect and engineer, nor astronaut and urban planner.
I hated Legos as a mom, because they were everywhere. It’s in my character, my habit, to insist on neatened spaces before the day ends, to start with a clean slate each day. I spent hours when the kids were little, picking up after them. No mess saw the dark of night. This is an issue when it comes to Lego building. Lego projects are ongoing, and to me ongoing projects are just a mess.
I hated the Lego projects they constructed – they took up so much room and collected so much dust. They’d put the things together and just sort of – leave them out. Within days I’d lose it and break them all down and throw them into a bin with all the others. My kids never reconstructed a particular set again after I interfered. Eventually they stopped playing with them.
My brother was over recently and I gave him the bin of Legos we were going to donate. His kids are much younger than mine, and he thought that maybe one of them would inherit his love for building. I was happy to see them go.
An advertisement came on the TV for a movie that my kids loved when they were younger. “Oh look! I haven’t seen that movie in forever!” my daughter exclaimed. “But don’t we have it on DVD? You could watch it anytime,” I said. “We had it until you sold it at a GARAGE SALE, Mom!” she retorted. She went on to list all the beloved movies we bought at one time and that I got rid of before they were ready to give them up.
I had no idea that I was thwarting my children’s spirit growth with every pile of toys I cleaned up and with every dust-covered DVD I sold for a quarter. I thought I was keeping order in our home, and I am ruining their memories instead.
Is it any wonder the term Mommy Guilt is a thing?
I’ve taken away bedtime snacks, forbade messy crafts, only rarely join them outside to play, make them change their own sheets and clean their own bathroom, insist they eat salad, have made them work when they have friends over, and our history of amusement park visits is meager. They will never forget these indignities, and they will make sure I won’t, either.
But that’s okay. Through it all, they’re learning valuable lessons: that you can’t save everything and do everything. Disappointment is inevitable. Work is an integral part of life.
And by all means, save your pennies. Therapy is expensive.