Just weeks ago, Aya asked me:
Ma, pwede mo po akong ibili ng cell phone? (Ma, can you please buy me a cell phone?)
I was actually expecting her to ask me this question anytime soon, because I'm seeing more and more kids with their gadgets like these cute cell phones tied around their necks. Sometimes I get confused if they're real or just toys--they get smaller by the day!
Anyway, I simply asked her back:
"Could you give me 10 reasons why I should give you a cell phone?"
Her response didn't really surprise me much. She just lost the puppy-eyes stare with the grin in her lips, and sighed before dropping back to her seat. I feel she was devastated. I could hear her talking to herself "Ten reasons...hmmmm..." Then a very long pause. She stood up again, and faced me once more.
"Yup. Ten. I need you to tell me 10 reasons why you NEED a cell phone. I said NEED, ha, Ate? Once you come up with the 10, and they're all valid, then I'll consider giving you a cell phone. Clear?"
"Yes, Ma... Clear po."
As of now, she hasn't given me any valid reasons yet. (Unless you'll consider "Some of my classmates have their own cell phones now...") Although at times, she still tries to insist that she needs one because she says she misses me so much that she couldn't wait for me to call her up. She wants to be the one to call me up. (My heart almost broke when she said this, honestly.) But no matter how much I'd really want to give in to this request, I still try to explain to her that she still does NOT need a cellphone because every one else at home already has one. And that I still could not afford to give her one because it's NOT in our budget. End of discussion.
I just feel so proud of her when she responds, "Okay, Ma. Naiintindihan ko po... Pag laki ko na lang po." (Okay, Ma. I understand. Perhaps when I'm grown up...).
I know as a parent that I'm supposed to give all the best to my kids, and have them experience the best things that life has got to offer... But I think it's actually more disturbing if we don't let them experience these "times of scarcity/deprivation" because they'll never learn to appreciate what they have, unless you create the anticipation in them. This would also help them distinguish their requests from being a need or just simply a want.
I believe it's important to teach them not just the value of money, but also the fact that, like money, we need to be able to work to get paid, or gain something. Again, I told her the importance of delaying one's gratification by means of saving for something you want. So I encouraged her: If she wants to have her own cellphone, she must save up for it so she could buy it.
Unfortunately, though, I think that cell phone will have to wait for some more time because she's still saving up for her own bicycle...
"Make the regular feel special!"
This was what the seminar facilitator responded when during the open forum part of the seminar I asked, "What is the best way to explain to my regular 6-year-old daughter the special condition of her sister without making her feel un-special, because she would always ask me--Mama, do you love ME?"
It actually made sense when he further added, "go out and do some bonding activities na kayong dalawa lang, like watch a movie, or eat somewhere she really loves-- of course, without staying out of your budget."
He said I should watch out, though, not to give the invitation to take her out after having an argument regarding her younger sibling; otherwise, she'll think of the invitation as a bribe to be nice to her sister. The invitation must come "randomly," that it seemed to have been just a spur-of-the-moment kind of invitation that I just really wanted to go out and take her with me.
--And so that's what I did soon as I fetched her from school. After attending the said parenting seminar, I invited her out to the mall and asked her if she would be interested to watch a movie. Of course, she said yes, she couldn't make up her mind between Harry Potter6 and Transformers2, until we finally chose Harry Potter, because the other film was not for kids below 13.
Indeed, we had a great time while watching the movie. The only thing that bothered her was that she was so light and thin that her seat would fold up when she sat on the cinema chair. ...we actually both laughed hard when she almost fell; but I assuringly told her I'll just extend my leg to keep the seat from folding up so she could watch comfortably.
Laughing with her that time was a great moment for us both. Seeing her being able to laugh at herself without feeling ashamed or embarrassed made me feel proud of her. And there I saw that she wasn't really angry at her sister when she complained that I always favored Jamie over her, I felt that she was just looking for some attention that's really meant for her.
After watching the movie, we passed by the mall studio and took a pic, showing off our necklaces which I made especially for us both. Then bought something before going home. I was so touched when she insisted that we buy something, a pasalubong, for her sister Jamie. More so, I was surprised when during our walk to the terminal, she said,
"Ma, I really enjoyed what we did today. I'm sorry I've been bad at times, especially when I'm fighting with Jamie. I promise I won't fight with her again because I know you love me, too."
I almost cried when she said that. I can't thank God enough for hearing those words... my heart is all-praises and songs that time until we got to bed that night.
For sure, that won't be the last time we're going out to have our special bonding session...
I'm actually saving up for our next trip -- to the spa :)