The Most Precious Gift
You know when friends invite you to their kid’s birthday party, but you don’t really know the kids and you’re not sure what to get them?
So, how awkward is it when you get to that point with your own kid?
The fact is, I barely see my daughter now. So, when her birthday came up, I asked her if she needed anything. I figure with college costs and only working in the summer, there’d be something she needed.
“You always do so good with gifts, Dad. I trust you’ll find something cool.”
Pssshhh… I don’t know what a college kid thinks is “cool.” Let alone my college kid.
So, I did what any self-respecting parent would do. I stalled.
Thinking It Through
I missed the bigger point. She didn’t care what I got her. Actually, I could have gotten her anything. All that really mattered was that I was thinking about what to get her.
Really, she’d be totally happy with “something cool.”
…and it didn’t even really need to be “cool.” It could have been tickets to some event or a recipe and ingredients. As long as it was something that took thought.
Not just something that was grabbed for the sake of having “something” to give. We’ve heard it all our lives, but it’s never come into play as much as now – It’s the thought that counts.
And what do we do when we can’t figure out what someone wants? We buy a gift card.
Normally, for something we think they can use.
There’s a gas station / convenience store here near the house called Wawa. They’re all over the place here. So, wouldn’t you know it? After her birthday and two weeks later, Christmas, she’s got five or six Wawa gift cards of varying denominations.
And, you know, she can’t be “ungrateful” by not wanting them, right? But… well… she didn’t want them. Once she got back to college, she couldn’t use them anyway. There aren’t any Wawa’s where she goes to school.
So, ultimately, the gift cards became a bit of a burden – to try and spend before she leaves or hang onto until she gets back. There’s only so many hoagies you can eat in a week and a half.
I felt bad.
But not for too long. It turns out, sometimes the best gift is just making everything right.
I gave her the cash for all the Wawa gift cards. Cash is the worst present, right? It takes no thought at all… but in this case, it took realizing the cards were worthless and doing something that helped her. It wasn’t the money; it was the thought.
It seems as our kids grow, our value stops being in the active parenting, but in the response to their struggles.
Making someone’s life a little easier is a fundamental success of our own lives. I’ve talked about how we’re now giving advice to our kids, rather than instructions. But, we’re also beginning to see them as their own people, too. Meaning, we’re not protecting them from life’s wrongs, but rather waiting to swoop in and “save the day.” Or at very least, make the day a bit easier to swallow.
Of course, this doesn’t negate giving them a King of Tokyo board game for their birthday. That’s “cool,” right?
PS – She does love the board game. 🙂
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