You know.... It's funny how often people challenge your decision making skills as a parent. And most of the time without even realizing it. All throughout the year, people project their expectations on to you with questions about how you parent, offering up unsolicited advice, telling what their friends have done with their kids or even how they raise their pets. Especially for me, given the fact that my daughter is DEATHLY afraid of animals (I've never seen anyone or anything run faster when confronted by a teacup poodle). My favorite is, "Oh you should let her meet, Buster, he's great with kids!" I'm like "Did you just hear me? I said she's AFRAID of dogs."
But with all that, nothing attacks your psyche or makes you feel more like a parental nincompoop than the Holiday season. Especially me, since I have a daughter. "What did you get your kid this year! I know you spoil her!," people say gleefully while nudging their elbow in to mine. Or even worse, they look right at her, "Is daddy gonna get you everything you want for Christmas?" But screw you people! What am I getting her for Christmas? Really?! Some rent, heat, running water, and food. How about that? Merry bleepin' Christmas.
First of all, I'm Black, so I'm not bound by Christmas law - only Kwanzaa. And there ain't no Kwanzaa tree. On the contrary, however, I am a Christian so I guess in the grand scheme of things, that negates my negrocity. Plus half the time, I can't even spell Kwanzaa, and it's hard to celebrate stuff you can't spell. But here we are in the midst of a recession, and the holiday consumerism is in full effect. I just barely broke even with normal expenses, couldn't go home because of the exorbitant airline fees (I think they now charge for each item of clothing you wear on the plane), and my girlfriend and both of our families are pushing for a "deeper" relationship, if you get my drift. oh boy! And now, this precious gem of a child I bathe and feed everyday... The same kid I read books with every night... the same kid who seems to grow two sizes every other week... the same kid who gets clothes, books, toys, classes, and free room and board... I'm supposed to BUY a pile of EXTRA shit? In-Word, please!
Dont' get me wrong, I love the Christmas spirit. In fact, it's an energy that I advocate we adopt the whole year round... (peep my New Year's Dissolution Blog). But there's certain principles I don't necessarily introduce my kid to. For starters, the "Christmas Gimmies." For a 3-year-old, she's pretty understanding when we're at Target or Walgreens, or KB Toys (notice i didn't say FAO Schwarz, it's out of my tax bracket), or the grocery store, and she walks out of there empty handed. She doesn't own a lot of toys. She's not a brand fanatic like most kids end up becoming. A few dolls here and there, a little excitement over Dora the Explorer and the High School Musical album, but for the most part I don't push the idea of brands and commercial crap to her. Hell, I hardly ever even have the TV on when we're hanging out. Instead, she likes stuff like cooking, cleaning (great, now I sound cheap and sexist), drawing, music, being outside... you know, kid stuff. When asked what she wanted for Christmas, she literally said one thing: "Tinkerbell Movie." Other than that it was what she can take to school for her friends, or drawing a picture for her mom, or just more singing Jingle Bells wrong.
Now I'm sure this will all change in a year or so when she becomes a little more aware of what's going on in the world. When her friends start talking about the latest fads, and Hannah Montana, and Nike, and nail polish. Especially when she sees her pops bling-blingin', pinky ringin', and pockets ching-chingin'. Shout out to the Guess Store at the outlet mall.
On a broader scale and a serious note, in my life, I just try to focus on what's important. Kids don't need a lot. They need love, clean drawls, and food. They learn from practical experience, they have fun doing the simplest things, and their imaginations are bigger than we can imagine. As an adult and as a parent, I've tried to learn to keep it simple. It's when we bombard ourselves with the pressure of "gotta do" and "gotta have" and other expectations that we introduce ourselves to disappointment, doubt, and failure. So keep it simple. Just be. God has already given us what we need to become who we are. And that's the only "gotta" you need.
Stay Classy San Diego.
Until next time, Peace and Catfish Grease(on a napkin after you take it out the pan).