Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bianca would never do that

I've come to the sad realization that playing the Santa card ("Ohhh, you know how Santa feels about dirty teeth - better get to brushing!") is not as effective as it once was.  I think my daughter figured out that despite all the threats, she still gets plenty o'presents on Christmas morn. So, although I will continue to advise my daughter that the big guy in red gets furious over uneaten vegetables and jackets left on the floor instead of hanging them up because the hook is RIGHT THERE FOR GOD'S SAKE, I knew I needed a new tactic. Enter: Bianca.

Like many parents, I worry that my child is not learning to think of others. I once read that children are pretty much genetically programmed to think only of themselves until the age of eight or so. However, my daughter does have a good heart and I think she just needs some encouragement to understand concepts like gratitude and giving. So, I took her to the mall yesterday to select an angel ornament from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. I explained to her that each ornament represents a child from a low-income family and that these kids won't get much for Christmas. I immediately realized that I'd left a loophole - I feared she'd ask why Santa doesn't bring these kids as many gifts as they bring her. However, she didn't ask.

We looked at all of the ornaments until we found one for a girl who is close to my daughter's age. I thought maybe the whole concept would come together a little better if the recipient is the same age/sex. We chose Bianca. She is seven. She wears a size 8-10 clothing, size 2 1/2 shoes, and really needs pajamas (according to the note included on the paper ornament). "We'll shop for Bianca together," I told my daughter. She nodded, but I'm not sure she really gets it. She didn't ask me any questions, which is unusual. We aren't wealthy, of course. Our checking account takes a beating every month (and we don't have any savings to speak of except for 401ks). But, we have a house, jobs, cars, and college educations. We have food to eat. We're okay. We can hook up a little girl we'll never meet with some pjs and shoes.

Now, please don't tell Bianca but I am using her - just a little. I didn't set out with that intention at all, but I am a parent whose toolbox is mostly empty. Time-outs are ineffective at this age, we don't spank, and positive reinforcement is only marginally effective. So, that leaves the induction of guilt. Within mere hours of having chosen Bianca, I found myself saying things like, "I'm pretty sure Bianca puts her pajamas on the first time she is asked" and "I really doubt that Bianca would leave that much food on her plate." Poor Bianca. I have no shame. Seriously.

Anyway, here's hoping that by the time the holidays are over, my daughter will think of Bianca and remember that not everyone has everything they need and want - even basic necessities. And maybe she will remember that giving is more important than receiving. Perhaps she'll even be more grateful for what she has. And, most importantly, I hope she'll remember that Bianca always, always eats her vegetables.

2 comments:

The Lovely One said...

I think this is Brilliant! Totally stealing this idea for Bug.

Beth said...

I have one of those angels, too....and like A, my son hasn't questioned the Santa thing. (I was ready for it, though....I figured I'd just remind him that he gets presents from both Santa and Mommy & Daddy, so we'd be helping the boy's parents, not Santa.)

Sadly, our local Salvation Army doesn't give us the names of the children...and I don't think "Child M116" would have quite the same effect.