I'm really not surprised by the question Ethan posed to me on Wednesday, the day after his birthday.
"How long until its my birthday again?"
"364 days, Kiddo."
"Wow! That's long time!"
I wrote not long ago that I was sure that the ubiquitous kid question would show up in regard to his birthday almost immediately afterwards. I called it; I was right. What I didn't expect though was his amazement about how long of a time he now has to wait though. I guess his concept of time is firming up especially since he hasn't asked me today how much longer again.
Today and yesterday have been the days of post-birthday blues, a little known or discussed clinical condition that primarily affects young children. We had to go to Target yesterday and the moment we walked in, he asked for an Icee. Never mind all the candy he had just eaten since we went to see a movie, part of the Free Family Film Festival during the summer at the theater near us. There was whining all the way to the back of the store and then controversy over which jam flavor to purchase; he had to have two kinds. Then we had to have another folder for school, a shirt for pictures next week, and socks from the dollar section.
Then he told me he wanted a toy and complained that I don't buy him anything... Ethan said he was going to cry if I didn't buy him anything. It is amazing how young they learn to blackmail.
The poor kid is tired, but I think tiredness is a factor when the human condition becomes more evident since our sophistication becomes less refined. We had to have a talk about how we need to be grateful for everything and that threatening to cry is not ever a way to get stuff. I think he is trying to make up for the let down after his birthday with new things to either distract himself or make him feel special again.
The hyperbole to which Ethan took this is comical, but the truth is we all try to find our value in things that don't last. We look to jobs titles, stuff we have, groups we belong to, and even roles we play to give us meaning and worth rather than looking at ourselves as Christ sees us. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." it says in Romans 8:3 and to have such a gift given to us even while we have done nothing to deserve it should tell us that anything we do, are, or say can't make us any more special than who we already are in Christ.
When I left the store yesterday, I felt like a bad mom with out of control kids who were both on sugar highs and needed naps. I kept thinking about how I really needed to get this message across to Ethan and how I had failed in doing so but, ironically, I needed to remember it just as much as him. My kids are not a reflection of my worth and while I want to do the best job I can possibly do with them, I am not a better or worse person because of how they act. It is a lesson I think that I need to write on my mirror so it stares me in the face every morning. In fact, maybe they should just start printing it on all mirrors!