Some days I wonder if I have totally let all character development go out the window, but now as I think about it, I see that it comes through the kids observing my actions as much as words being said. I already try to be the best me that I can, and personally I like myself – which is good – so it does come down to being consistent and ethical.
One lesson that I know Elizabeth struggles with is appreciating what we already have. In our material culture this is a hard one to instill. It’s triply hard with the extended family buying the kids stuff all of the time, which I think ] is partially as a response to the hard times we are going through. But I often feel like I am being asphyxiated in my home by all of the crap that has no place, and in general by the overwhelming amount of stuff that we have.
Nevertheless, I was considering adding anther family member to our home by getting another cat. I had reservations, but I also perceived that the cat we have is a bit lonely now that we are gone most days, sometimes for 12 hours a day. Though I know that there is a stressful adjustment period when you add a second, I thought that it might help the kitty to have a buddy. Thus, I got on PetFinder.com and found some cats I was interested in. I even called the organization and set up an appointment to go meet them. Elizabeth knew all about it and was really excited. But as the day and time grew nearer, I began to wonder if it was a good idea in actuality. Another cat is an added expense. I am already feeling stressed out with working full-time and trying to figure out how to parent and keep my house relatively clean, and as I said, there is always a stressful adjustment period. Then there is the second litter box to clean, all of the hair of a second cat floating around, cat puke, etc. I also wondered if it would be fair, because if we don’t have time for one cat, how can we have time for a second?
When the day of the appointment to meet the cats arrived I decided to back out. I’m glad I did too. I just don’t feel like it was the right way to go. So that Elizabeth wouldn’t feel too bad, we went and got out cat, Percy, some new cat toys and wet food. I had not been feeding him wet food on a regular basis but needed some to give him a sedative before going to the vets to get his nails trimmed that day, he gets very worked up about it. Because we were deciding to not get the second cat, I decided to keep feeding him the wet food. Elizabeth picked out a number of cat toys, including a laser light. After all the new food and playing, we were almost where we needed to be with our kitty. Elizabeth and I also spent some extra time petting him to make sure he knows he is loved. By the end of the 3-day weekend, Sir Percival seemed very content and happy, and it has lasted throughout the week even though we are gone during the day.
I feel like this was a win-win-win for everyone involved. I was worried about the kitty, feeling sorry for him I guess and feeling like we were not filling all of his needs. I feel like our decision to spend more time with him rather than get another cat as a companion is the better choice by far. Taking care of what I have feels good. And I think that our choice also helps teach Elizabeth to appreciate what she already has, which is a much better lesson than just getting something new every time you are feeling lonely.
Share your thoughts: How do you teach your children to appreciate what they already have?