Thursday, November 29, 2018

Spoiled Or Just Being Six?

If I could figure out how to put a face palm emoji in the title, it would be there.

I didn't mean to raise a spoiled little brat. In fact, it's the furthest from what I had envisioned for my children. I've tried my damnedest to make sure my children are well rounded with a good understanding of the world around them. Up until this point, I have refused to apologize for the life we've given our children. Yes, we're able to afford the things my children need and quite a bit of what they want. We can take vacations and time off of work without worry.

All my children have to say is, "mom I need..." and boom, it can be at our doorstep in two days (thanks Prime). They're treated to an endless supply of arts and crafts, new toys, treats, and more thanks to daycare. I've never really thought how that could be misconstrued by their little minds, but I truly believed that when I gave the message loud and clear that this was part of my job, they'd understand. And they do to a certain extent.

Honestly, my children are privileged and I realize that. I realize that with every long weekend they instantly think we're going on vacation. They've come to expect eating at restaurants on the weekend, trips to Target for things we "need," a shopping trip to Old Navy once in awhile, and all of the perks that owning an in-home daycare comes with (aka-trips to the toy store). For the most part, they're grateful for what they have and what we give them. They say thank you, and mean it, when we do something fun that requires us spending money. However, I've also become very aware that they don't fully grasp what privilege is and how it affects them.

It all started with Alexa. As in, our very friendly Amazon Echo Dot device that we have in multiple rooms of our home. We have programmed Alexa to turn on and off lights, to play our favorite music, to answer our odd questions, to tell us the news, and more. Some days she's my favorite "person" in our house. Inevitably the boys got one in their room over the summer and she begged for her own. I resisted at first as she's only six years old.

Then Miss Alexa in the boy's room started causing fights. The six year old would sneak into her brother's room and listen to music, then refuse to get out when they caught her. This resulted in ear shattering screaming and fights between the three of them. To avoid further ear damage, I ordered Elizabeth her very own Alexa.

For $20 Alexa showed up in the usual box and I set that box in Elizabeth's room to surprise her. She was ecstatic about "my very own Alexa for my room." She asked to open her. I said no, but eventually gave in and told her, "you may open up the box, but leave it in your room so we can set it up when I'm done working today." Simple enough directions. It gave her what she wanted, but in a way that I could be sure Alexa was safe. But Alexa wasn't safe. Two hours later, Elizabeth casually mentioned, "my Alexa doesn't have a cord so you're going to have to buy me one."

"What do you mean she doesn't have a cord? Alexa comes with a cord."

"No she didn't!" Elizabeth shot back. There might have been a little Veruca Salt stomping action at this point, but I was starting to feel my blood pressure rising by this point so I can't say for sure.

"Bring me the box and I'll show you."

"I can't. I don't have the box anymore." This is when the water works started (on Elizabeth's part, not mine yet). Thinking back on it, she probably realized she f*cked up, but she should know by now that tears don't work on me.

"What do you mean you don't have the box anymore? I told you you could open the box but to leave it in your room. Where's the box?" I questioned, as my voice began to raise.

"I took Alexa out and threw the box in the trash." 

"You what? Which trash?" Her snotty tone combined with her expectation of me to instantly come up with a new cord was making me see red. I fully realize she's six, but this six year old needed to check herself.

The next ten minutes were a blur of me digging through our kitchen trash which contained old food and dirty diapers. I produced bits and pieces of the box because she apparently thought ripping the box up to bits was a great idea. I finally found what I was looking for. The insert that contained a brand new cord for her brand new Alexa. I showed it to her. I resisted the urge to yell "told ya!" at my six year old, but the anger did pour out. At one point one of my daycare kids, because yes, in complete truth, there were still a few daycare kids left who were witness to the entire event, said, "ah, Ashlen, you're yelling at Elizabeth."

I do a decent job of keeping my cool during the days, even with my own children. However, I just couldn't with this. I had made a point of making a big deal that she, at only 6 years old, got to have an electronic device in her room (we're old school that way), that she had to take good care of it, etc. And she did the complete opposite of what I had asked of her. I couldn't hold back, especially when I stood holding the ruined cord with bits and pieces of green beans and water dripping from it.

Surely I had not raised children that expected luxuries such as having devices in their bedrooms and surely I had not raised children to just disregard their brand new things. Plus, since I was completely irate by this point, she put a box in the trash instead of recycling. What kind of heathen was I raising??!!? I was mad. Mad at her for blatantly disregarding anything I had said to her, including the simple instructions I gave her for opening the package. Mad at myself for raising a child who didn't really care that her cord went in the trash. Mom will just buy a new one, right?

I don't really know how to handle the situation. We spoke briefly about the event, but the real problem I have, the underlying issue, how do I make her not spoiled anymore? As I re-accounted the event to my husband, with tears in my eyes, I asked the question innocently enough. His response was, "she's only 6. She doesn't get stuff like that." He might as well have thrown that cord right back in the trash and asked me for a new one too.

No, no, she understood that she got a brand new "toy" that was just for her. She understood my directions and went against them. She understood that there was something she would need for this new "toy" and all she needed to do was ask for it. She understood that I would get it for her and it would just show up. I'm not sure how I feel about this situation, other than take her brand new, never used Alexa away for the time being.

It's not easy to admit one is raising spoiled brats, but am I? Do my children expect too much? Or are they just being six? If I could go back to the time when I debated what brand of formula to supplement with that would be great. That's much easier to deal with than teaching my children about privilege, spoiled brats, giving, and what to expect from life. Parenting Insert a thumbs up emoji here.