If you are ever wanting a chaotic and expensive environment in which to question all your abilities to raise reasonable, gracious and well rounded children, take them to Build A Bear. While away at a wedding during our daughter’s birthday weekend, we gave her the option between going to “build” a bear and going to a trampoline park. As the words escaped my mouth, I thought, “Please Sweet Baby Jesus! Let her choose trampoline park. We have wiggles and we need them to exit our bodies!” Apparently, God knew I needed fuel for my blogging comeback so into the work shop we went. After, clarifying multiple times that we were just there for bears and that the birthday girl could get one outfit for her bear we selected our “on sale” skins. Can we just pause for a moment and let that sink it. Skins. Just wow.
We then waited in line to stuff our skins and kiss a small stuffed heart and place in our bears back before it got stitched closed. This was the beginning of our disappointment because this mama and daddy where not paying extra for the heart to actually beat. Serious, that is an upgrade option. The entire time in line, they asked about accessories for their new friends. “But Mama! My bear needs a light saber.” At one point my Benjamin said, “But Mama, they are naked. We can’t have naked bears. It’s inappropriate.” Vocabulary in 7 year olds is fun. We were firm. No accessories just bears. After the bear technicians finished stitching up the new stuffed animals, we headed to wash our bears, name them, create birth certificates and pay. All the while, we were hammered by requests for extra stuff, followed by whining, followed by more requests, followed by how unfair it was that Abigail got an outfit. How this was the worst day ever. How their lives were over.
As we checked out and paid an obscene amount of money for our children to have stuffed animals they were now totally disappointed by, I couldn’t help but think three things. One. We could have been at a trampoline park. Two. My least irritating child right now is the speech delayed 2 year old because he can’t properly formulate his possible disappointment. Three. We are so intentional in making them aware of how fortunate they are for things like safe housing, food on the table, healthy and safe parents. We are foster parents for goodness sake. They know they have it pretty good. And yet, here we are leaving Build A Bear crying because our bear doesn’t have a Bat Mobile. I just can’t.
When we got back to our hotel, we had a long talk about gratitude for the things we have the things we get to do. We talked about how the way they respond when they are given things and experiences affected those that were being generous to them. We had a come to Jesus meeting on the 6th floor of the Embassy Suites. Will it sink in? Who knows. Will we have the same conversation over and over. Definitely. Parenting is hard friends. Parenting kids who will grow up to not be jerks means having the come to Jesus meetings over and over again until it sinks in. We don’t have this lesson down yet but we aren’t quitters. It’s too important. There is a thin line between entitled and confident. Sometimes it is as thin as a thread that closes the back of a bear skin.