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Gassho: "A position used for greeting, with the palms together and fingers pointing upwards in prayer position; used in various Buddhist traditions, but also used in numerous cultures throughout Asia. It expresses greeting, request, thankfulness, reverence and prayer." In the martial arts specifically, it is often interpreted as simply "to appreciate".

It's Saturday night and here we are again, bedtime,  and I have made a complete rookie mommy mistake; I have kept Maya up past the window. Y’all know the window, that magical time of evening where bedtime is a joyous mix of kisses, giggles and cozy cuddling, where you hear your child's gentle whisper as you close her bedroom door: “Goodnight mommy. I love you.” The window is the time when she is not yet too tired to behave normally, not yet dissolved into a puddle of snot and exhaustion. If you make the window, bedtime is bliss. If you miss it, god help you.

I have missed it and I know that Maya is far too tired for the conversation that I am making her have with me. But I, like my daughter, am stubborn and tenacious and we have to do this tonight. We have had a nice day together, mainly because I have gone out of my way to do things that Maya enjoys. We went to a playground and she ran around in the sprinklers for hours. We had a special ice cream treat. She helped me walk the dog. She got to watch Aladdin while I cleaned up and Matthew made us dinner. (She got to pick our dinner too, chicken and rice and broccoli.) We have had very few problems today, save one. The main one. The one that has been irking me all week.

For the most part, I think I am a decent mother. My child eats healthy, she is mostly nice to people, she doesn't watch too much TV or play too many video games. She does karate and gymnastics. She can read. Sometimes she has a sassy mouth but I rarely let her get away with it. So I think I am doing okay. There is one area , however, that I am struggling with. Maya wants things. Often. Sometimes she gets them. Other times I say no. We don't have the money. Or she already has three of them and one likes to migrate under the couch daily. Or just no. Why? Because a little no is good for her. Sometimes she takes disappointment well but mostly she gets snappy, I get angry and she ends up crying in her room while I sit on the couch fuming over how selfish and spoiled she is. We spent the whole day at the damn zoo and all she can think about is how she didn't get a cookie?? What a brat!

There is a three year old girl in my Tuesday morning Jump, Kick, MOVE! class who has sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell is a disease that is caused by an abnormal type of hemoglobin in the body's red blood cells, a type that causes the cells to deliver less oxygen to the body, as well as inhibit blood flow. Patients can have episodes of pain, fatigue, delayed growth, as well as seizures and strokes. The girl in my class has to be careful around lots of children and germs. She is small for her age. She cannot swim in really cold water for fear of seizures. She also has bi weekly blood transfusions that last hours. That is right, every two weeks she has a blood transfusion. Her father says she never complains, it is just part of her life. She never complains in class either, is always smiling and energetic and lovable. 

I know damn well how lucky I am that Maya is a healthy child. I also know that there is no way for Maya to understand this, there is no way to tell her "Are you crying about a Barbie doll? At least you don't have to have blood transfusions!" All of this is way over her big selfish head. But I wish she would. I wish she would look at her roomful of toys and somehow understand that she is lucky to have toys, that she is lucky to have a room. That some kids don't have either. And instead of constantly asking for more, more, more, I wish she could just be thankful.

Am I doing something wrong or are gratitude and appreciation concepts that are just way too big for any four year old? How do you teach a child to be happy with what she has? How do I teach Maya to not be so greedy?

I am trying. The other day, while we were cleaning up her room I asked Maya to pack up a few of her toys that she didn't play with anymore to "give to some little girls who do not have a lot of toys" (aka, our local thrift store). She did it but later on while we were walking Chloe she looked sad. When I asked her what was wrong she said that she was going to miss her toys. I talked about all the other things she had and how lucky she was that she had so many toys. I talked about how happy some other little girl would be to get her dolls. I talked about all of those big grownup concepts that Maya does not understand in the slightest. Her response? "But when I think about someone else playing with my dolls I feel sad."

Parenting FAIL.

This brings me back to Saturday and bedtime. Despite the fact that I am way past the window, I can't help myself. I ask her to think of something nice that she could say or do for someone else. It took her way too long to agree but finally, with some help she managed to come up with a few ideas.

The next morning we did them. We made breakfast for Matthew (pancakes and bacon). We took Chloe on a long walk all the way to the dog run where she ran around in the dirt for half an hour. Maya and Matthew took me to one of my favorite lunch spots. She made a giant poster with a picture of a rainbow butterfly and a note that said "Sorry" on it and then hung them in the living room for a "party". All good stuff. I did it, I am supermom.!  My child will be the next Dalai Lama. Until we said no to something she wanted just a few minutes later. Here comes the attitude,  roaring back like a hurricane! Aaaargh! So much for Maya Teresa.

Am I asking for too much? I know that my daughter is only four. I know that children are self centered by nature. When Maya sees other kids sad she tries to comfort them. She draws pictures for everyone. She gives excellent hugs. Still, every time she throws a fit because she wants something I hang my head in shame. Am I raising a spoiled brat? What have I done wrong? Do we buy her too many things? How can I teach my child to be appreciative of what she has, to want to make other people happy? Do we volunteer at soup kitchens, give all her toys to the Salvation Army? Is it even possible for a four year old to care about someone other than herself? Should I just let it go?

To the parents out there reading this, how do you love your children fiercly without spoiling them rotten?


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