Right before our vacation, I purchased a pack of those "Magic Grow Sea Animals Capsules" for bath time. I thought perhaps it would thwart some of the shampoo screaming that makes bathing Satch such a (ahem) joy. I thought the distraction would save our friends from having to suffer along with me.
And it did - which was a great relief!
However, I didn't anticipate the lesson in growth that was encapsulated in my 2 dollar investment.
Out of the 12 creatures, some of which were duplicates, wouldn't you know there was only ONE dang lobster! And as luck would have it, his best bud got the lobster. Well, you can imagine the drama that unfolded. My son obsessed about that little piece of green foam and didn't want to leave the house until his pal came back so he could plead his need. He was so fixated, in fact, that he wanted to trade her a whale and shark for that one lobster.
When we returned from sightseeing he immediately voiced his case. His offer was rejected and a valuable lesson availed itself. He was heartbroken, but I didn't want his pal's generous mommy to encourage her daughter to make the trade simply because my son was upset. He was entitled to his authentic feelings, but I didn't want to send the message that he who screams loudest and longest wins a prize because that doesn't serve anyone. I didn't want his friend to do something she didn't want to do. I wanted to allow the conflict to unfold naturally. I wanted my son to try to solve the problem creatively and he did - he offered a respectable trade - and the trade wasn't accepted. I told him that I thought it was a wonderful trade and that I was sorry it didn't work out. I also told him that his friend did not have to trade, and that a trade is a choice. I told him that we would stop at the store on the way home and get another pack.
He lamented about the lobster (in total) for 30 hours, seriously, we counted them. We asked him to (please) stop talking about the lobster and assured him we would buy more capsules. On our way home we stopped at the Safeway, as promised, and bought the LAST package of grow foam on the shelf. The moment we got home, we poured them into the bathroom sink and prayed to the God-of-cheap-kiddy-crapola to give us another lobster. Thankfully, Larry, emerged from his capsule and saved our sanity.
I realized that we purchased more capsules, not because we were tired of the lobster-monologue (though I did feel like my brain was about to explode into bits of colored foam), we bought more capsules because the lobster was important to him for some reason we may never fully understand. We bought them because we knew it would bring him joy.
I do believe our perceptions shape the world we experience. And the thing is, I don't want my son to grow up believing the old adage, "you can't have everything". I don't want him to believe we live in a world of scarcity (though we all know it exists). It's just that the focus on scarcity, I think, promotes doubt, fear, greed and jealousy. I wish for him to see his world as abundant, hopeful, creative and generous. I want this for him because my perception is that sometimes you CAN have everything - but you may have to be creative about it - you may have to work at it - you may have to wait for it - and sometimes it's understanding what your "everything" really is, what's truly important. And when you figure that out, you often discover that you already have it all.
We had a bit of a giggle yesterday over Larry when I jokingly said to Satch, "I can't believe you were so upset over a tiny piece of green sponge". He laughed then added, "I know it's junky, Mama, but I really love the lobster".
*This post is lovingly dedicated to my friend P for her patience during tense times; to Andrea who gets it; and to Scott, whose wisdom I absorb like a sponge.