As a treat for a week's worth of wise behavior, I take Boo to see fire stations on Fridays after school. It's Spring Break for Boo this week, so we've been indulging in several of these treasure hunts. (I know - it's not Spring yet. And no, I don't know why the school has it so early. Yes, they also have Good Friday and Easter Monday off.) We trekked for miles the other day, following the computer print-out. We built up an appetite!
So there we were, waiting for our bibimbap, when the manager comes over to chat. She asks if Boo is my only one. She nods knowingly and says "I guess he gets spoiled." I really wanted to proclaim, "NO! He's not! At all!" but I politely whimpered, "I try not to." Her parting words, her conclusion, as it were: "Very hard not to spoil."
Which leads me to ask, where did the notion that only children are spoiled come from? For me, it's very easy not to spoil him. With one, I have the energy and time to implement the tips and techniques I've gleaned from friends and books. With one, I have the focus to live by our philosophy about Family. I encourage him every day to be Christ-like. To instill in him that he can do all things through Him.
Maybe people have different ideas what "spoiling" a child means. To me, it's when the child doesn't have the appropriate sense of his place in the world, in society, in the family. Anyone who thinks more of themselves or treats others with disrespect, to me, is "spoiled." Yes, I gift him with way too many clothes and my house is like a toy factory. I know I have way too much stuff. How did this happen?? I guess one yard sale at a time! But. Here's the big caveat. I teach him to be polite, appreciative, thoughtful and careful. That he is still a child. We are the adults and we rule the roost, so to speak. By nature a one-child family has a different rules of engagement. We like that - we like that he has a bigger part in our exchanges. But Hubs and I never waiver on the notion that he is not in charge. I have a friend who has seven and just returned from Ethiopia with three more. And I bet she does all the good things I'm talking about. But she and I are very different creatures. I couldn't do what she does. My brain isn't programmed that way.
If you know me at all, or if you've been reading my blog, you might guess that I think things through carefully. My conclusions may not always be right, but boy, that wrong decision required a lot of thought! We thought of all the ifs. The supposes. The inevitables of having an Only.
Before Boo came to be with us, our case worker relayed to us a story of her own life. She and her husband had two grown children. As they reached the teen years and merged into maturity, she realized that she would miss having children in the house. She began to regret that they hadn't had a third. And here's her wisdom: at the time she was having children, she could only "do" two. She could not have guessed back then into the future what she would feel and so she cannot, will not regret it now. Maybe a somewhat obvious understanding, but one that came by after many years of living. And here's the bottom line for me: I, today, this person, have the comfort for being the mother of one child. I am barely the kind of mother I want to be, I don't want to stretch beyond my elasticity. I can only make decisions with the information that I have; I can't see the future. Regrets later? Maybe. Maybe not.
We ended up finding 11 fire stations that day. I could do that, with ease, with patience, with joy, with my Only.