Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hey Look! Green Grass!

I've been worried lately.

Isn't that what good mothers do? No matter how wonderful our kids are, we worry that we're screwing them up enough to land them in therapy or get them married to the local mullet-headed shrew.

I've been worried that my kids are getting spoiled. Like, really spoiled.

Okay, well...not so much my kids, but my son.

His expectations and demands have been grating on me. And since I am the only parent here, any negative change in his behavior has to be directly traced to my parenting.

I suck.

But there are people who suck more. I know it. I try to remind myself of that fact. Sometimes, those people even manage to remind me.

My daughter is friends with a set of sisters in her class. These girls are the offspring of the most wealthy people I know in real life. The dad is kind of famous and the family's charitable foundation is absolutely renowned.

One of the girls is kind of sweet. The other one is a terror. Let's call her Maddy.

One day last week I picked my daughter up from school and she immediately told me, "Maddy asked me to get her a Nintendo DS for her birthday."

I sort of laughed that off. I'm not about to buy my own child a Nintendo DS, birthday or not. I'm certainly not going to indulge someone else's kid. But my daughter had more to report.

"She told me I had to go to Target and buy it tonight before they're all sold out and drop it off at her house."

"She did, huh?" I responded. "How very demanding of her. What did you tell her?"

"I told her sure, as long as my mom said it was okay."

Well, her mom certainly did not say it was okay. I gave my daughter a little speech about being taken advantage of and about reasonable expectations. Not only is this girl's birthday quite a while away, I know that her parents almost always request that guests do not bring gifts to their parties.

But when we got home, my daughter dug something out of her backpack to show me. It was a letter of instruction from Maddy.

Not only did she write out every detail of her "request" she also added that my daughter had better hurry up and get it to her. "You have to drop it off tonight," she wrote.

I was a more than a little put out. You guys know how I am. My daughter is an exceedingly empathetic, sweet and polite child. There will always be people who will want to take advantage of her.

When I threw the paper away, my daughter started crying. "But Maddy will be upset! I feel like this is all my fault."

"Honey, you can't be responsible for other kids being rude and spoiled." And we moved on with our afternoon.

Later, when we came home from running errands, there was a message on our machine.

It was from Maddy.

"Did you get my Nintendo DS yet? You better hurry up."

Okay, that was enough. I probably should have picked up the phone, but I decided to compose my thoughts in an e-mail instead. I'm a better writer than a speaker.

I played it all off like it was funny. I told her mom, "I know what Maddy wants for Christmas." And I told her that I hesitated to write at all but I knew that if it was my daughter, I'd want to know.

Lie. I didn't hesitate a second to write. And my daughter would never dare do such a thing.

At 9 p.m. Maddy's mother called me. She wanted to know if my daughter was awake because Maddy wanted to apologize to her. Ha! My kid had been asleep for two hours.

So her mother told me how Maddy was embarrassed and how she was at that moment crying in her father's lap. She explained that when her "mean" mom said no to the DS, she just turned to the sweetest person she knew. She said that now she felt horrible because she didn't want to hurt my daughter's feelings.

Oh, and she explained that Maddy had written down our home number and used her grandmother's phone to call us, because she knew that her parents wouldn't let her make that call.

Yeah, sure. She was embarrassed, all right. Embarrassed to be caught.

I think there is a lesson to be learned here. Either I need to adopt Maddy's mother's kids-will-be-kids attitude, or I need to put the smack down on my son's spoiled ways right now.

Ah huh. The smack down is on.

You know, money doesn't make good people, charitable contributions aside. Someone remind me of that when I'm rich and famous. Okay?

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