When we weren't camping in a tent on our vacations, we were all eight of us crammed into a tiny motel or hotel room. As a kid I was always embarrassed by these features of big family life with a limited budget. There were other circumstances in my family that also made outings in general something I dreaded, but that's a whole other post.
When I dreamed of having my own family, I knew that I would have a small one. I wanted my children to look forward to things and get excited over time spent with family. I dreamed of vacations and outings filled with fun and a bit of indulgence.
And now that I am here, with a small boy who is quickly learning the ways of the world (Mommy can I is by far the most common phrase lately), I find it is a very fine line Shaune and I must walk. For instance, one day last week we were on our way home from the splash pad, it was hot and humid outside and the last thing I wanted to do was figure out lunch. Deaglan seeing the Golden Arches said Mommy can we go to Old McDonald's? I'm hungry.
We did but then the next day when we were passing by the same place even though we had already eaten lunch at home, Deaglan asked the same thing.
Often Shaune and I buy Deaglan things because we're so excited for him to have them. He's at such a great age, talking a mile a minute, telling jokes, appreciating his surroundings - put simply, he's captivating - that we can easily get carried away. Two weeks ago on an outing, Shaune scoped out aquariums and called me to get my agreement to buy one for Deaglan's room. It wasn't his birthday or Christmas. I easily agreed because I too had been wanting to get some fish for his room.
Lately though, we've noticed that every time we go out somewhere Deaglan will ask us what he can have as if he should have a gift or treat whenever we are out. Worried we are on our way to spoiling him, Shaune and I decided to start making a point of saying no to his requests more often.
As much as I disliked some of the inevitabilities of being part of such a large family, I do remember the thrill of a treat once in a while. I only ever had one Barbie who I played with for years and years. Most of my clothes until I had my own money were hand-me downs. I didn't have my own room until I was in university.
It's one of those challenges of parenting that we are facing right now. Wanting to give your children what you didn't have but at the same time wanting them to appreciate the niceties the way you did.