Sometimes, kids are really just there to teach you not to be a jerk.
Kid1 started Kindergarten this year, which involved a school uniform and, among other things, a school bag. Because the bag is uniform, everyone has the same bag. Because everyone has the same bag, the first week or so of pick-up involved opening bags to find which one had contents that I recognised. Clearly, this is not efficient, and a bag tag was in order. So bag tag shopping we went.
I was, to put it mildly, surprised and disappointed by the lack of range, especially since I was more than happy to consider keyrings also bag tags. But no, these were the illusive treasure of the Back-to-School season.
Eventually we found some that were about $5-7. They weren’t great aesthetically, but they’d do the job.
Mr5 turned up his nose. I could have just put my foot down, but I wasn’t that keen on them either, so I thought we’d keep looking for a bit. And then we hit the jackpot: Star Wars keyrings and bag rags.
The only problem? They were $15 each.
Dude, $15 for a BAG TAG?? NO THANK YOU.
But it was Star Wars, so Young!Spawn was naturally enamoured (even though he’s never seen the franchise, he’s obsessed with it). I consulted the husband via phone (again, it’s a measure of how unaesthetically pleasing the cheap ones were that I didn’t just put my foot down there and then) and he was like eh, call it a non-birthday birthday present.
I did narrow his choices to the Chewbacca or the R2D2 (the other options being Darth Vader or Marvel superheros which, while I enjoy them personally, encourage too much violence in my already physically active child), and he chose the R2D2, and I begrudgingly handed over my $15, and we went home and he was overjoyed to discover it came with a build-in torch (ah, THAT was the reason for the price hike) and we attached it to his bag.
Two days later, we were in the car together on our way to school. I’m tired and mostly silent (because this is my morning mien), and he is bubbly and peppy and loud (because this is his permanent mien, generally speaking). And then,
“Mummy, let’s see how much I love you!”
Confused, I glanced at him in the rear view mirror.
“I’ll flash my torch,” he continued. “And the number of times I flash it is how much I love you.”
I confess, I melted a little bit. Maybe I didn’t resent those fifteen hard-earned dollars quite so much now as I did yesterday.
“Sure,” I replied. “Go ahead.”
He held up the tiny R2D2 torch, awkwardly constrained by the weight of his bag, and flashed so I could see it in the rear-view.*
Flash. Flash flash flash.
Y’all, the kid loves me.
For the next week, every morning, this became his routine. “Mummy, let’s see how much I love you.” Cue five million flashes.
Y’all, the kid loves me.
And you know what? The R2D2 is missing its legs now, and he doesn’t really care about it either way any more, and I could have just spent $5 on a dodgy-looking tag that would have adequately done the job. But kids don’t see things the way we do, and it was totally humbling for the thing I resented acquiring to become the means by which my kid expressed his love to me.
I’m pretty sure there are many things in my life that I resent ‘acquiring’ that turn out, in the end, to be expressions of love. And I’m pretty sure that if I was better at looking for them, if I practised so I could get better, there’d be a lot less resentment in the first place. And that’s not a bad lesson to learn from $15.
* It’s not a very bright torch.