My extended family is cray, but one thing we do right is we love each other. We each have our different love languages and there’s no shortage of hugs and kisses when we see each other. My wife and I know that when we get together with my family, we have to start saying goodbye at least 15 minutes before we need to be out the door so we can hug and kiss each person that’s there.
That’s something that we hope to teach Lily. She’s only five months old right now but grandmas, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins all shower her with love and she doesn’t know anything but love. I think that Lily is going to have a good problem, my family is going to want to show her that they love her all the time and the love will be overflowing.
But at what point does showing your love turn in to “spoiling” a child? At what point does receiving gifts from your loved ones turn into a sense of entitlement? Those are some pretty good questions that I don’t have an answer to. What I do know though, is that Lily is always going to have her needs met because even if I have a rough spot financially, my family will always be there for us.
Let’s get one thing straight, Lily doesn’t need toys. Yesterday I pulled out her toys from her closet and played with her. She has a little doll we call BeeGee, a little doll we call Maria (for la India Maria), Go-Rilla, Mexi-bear, Daisy-bear, Monkey (her favorite toy), Ann Marie (a sock monkey), Huey, Giranimal, and dozens more. Just for fun, I put her in her pack n play and put the toys all around her and there were enough toys to bury her.
Lily doesn’t need that $10 toy that you saw at Walmart that you think she’d love. Lily doesn’t need Anna and Elsa dolls. Lily doesn’t need that $100 tablet that’s easy for infants and toddlers to use. Lily needs you.
Lily needs you to be in her life. To come over and play with Beegee, Go-Rilla, and Monkey with her. To lay down on the floor at her level or sit her on your lap and just talk to her. To come over and take her to the park. To be that adult at the playground climbing to the top of the slide and actually sliding down with Lily (freaking out all of the helicopter moms).
At some point, Lily might think that she really needs a tablet, but remember that what she really needs is for you to be in her life.
During birthdays, Christmas, etc., please don’t feel obligated to buy Lily toys. Maybe a good present could be a trip to Science City, to the movies with you, or a water park; anything that gives you the opportunity to spend time with her. If you want to buy her something tangible buy her something that she needs, like clothes.
Better yet, buy her an empty box and fill it with love letters. The letters can be just a few sentences. “January 28: Lily, I was a meeting today and I got distracted because I was overwhelmed with a sense of how much I love you. I can’t wait to see you again and hang out.” This gift is worth more than a million Anna and Elsa dolls. I’d love it if Lily had so many love letters from her family that she could bury herself in them. When Lily has a rough time at school when she’s 11 years old, she can look back at her love letters and know that you love her. When she’s 18 years old and nervous about starting a new chapter in her life, she can go forward knowing that she has all the love and support from her extended family. When she gets married and has children of her own, her love cup will be so full that all that love will overflow to the new little one.
Lily doesn’t need toys, Lily needs you.
Note: my favorite version of Lily of the Valley is by Johnny Cash.