“I want that big dump truck!” Fletcher pleads emphatically. We’re rushing (as much as one can with a two-going-on-three year old) down the toy aisle at Dischem, heading for the tills. An error in judgement saw us come down this aisle rather than one over, where the adult diapers and Zimmer Frames are kept. I crouch down to his level, “Maybe you’ll get one for your birthday or for Christmas, if you’re a good boy.” He’s not interested. “Please mama, please can I have that big, green dump truck!?” He’s only two but already he knows how to turn on the charm when he wants something. I pick him up and speak as calmly as I can, “Baby, you can’t have a present every time we come to the shops.” Nice try. “PLEASE!” he yells. “Just because you said ‘please’, doesn’t mean you automatically get what you want. I’m sorry baby, no.” I pick him up and march down the aisle with a thrashing toddler in my arms, launching himself this way and that in a vain attempt to escape my clutches. I leave Becs to manage the check-out and Fletch and I exit the shop. I feel like everyone is judging me as I walk past, but I think I also catch as many I know that feeling looks as I put on a brave smile on my way out.
In the (almost) three years that we’ve been stumbling and bumbling through parenthood, I’ve come to realise a few things. Probably the biggest one was that no-one – and let me say that again, no-one – is getting it 100% right 100% of the time. I’ve made tons of mistakes along the way and I’m sure we’re screwing Fletcher up in new and exciting ways, but all I can hope is that we’re getting it more right than wrong. And when I look at Fletch, and I watch him interact with people and the world around him, I think we mostly are.
For the last couple of years, the Christmas season in our house has been double-trouble. With Fletcher’s birthday being so close to Christmas, we find ourselves trying to spread things out to minimise the damage done to our wallets and stretch the happy as far as we can for Fletch. Most kids at least have a couple of weeks between birthdays and Christmas, but poor Fletch has just two days. We are very intentional about not bundling the two together, making sure he gets the impact of both days for what they’re meant to be.
We’re not religious people, so Christmas is less about babies in mangers and more about love, family and togetherness. This year will be our first Christmas in Cape Town and we’re still trying to work things out. We have to find the box of Christmas decorations in the nightmare that is our garage. We’ve had to buy a new tree because we gave ours away when we moved. We still have to work out exactly where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing (and eating) on Christmas. All we really know is that the three of us will be together. And that is all that really matters.
We don’t want Fletch to be overwhelmed on Christmas morning, faced with hundreds of gifts to open. Especially not when it’s two days after his birthday and the novelty of birthday gifts should still be fresh. So we’ve decided, for our part, Fletcher will get four gifts: something he wants, something he needs, something to wear and something to read. We’ve also decided to ensure that presents from (as Fletch calls him) “Fa’er Christmas” are small, token gifts, not massive expensive things. I read a post last year about the pitfalls of expensive gifts from “Santa” and it changed my perspective a lot.
So, as we go into the Festive Season, bedecked in festive cheer and getting ready to make merry, I hope despite the gifts and the hype, that we can all focus on what’s important this festive season – family, love, togetherness, renewal, joy and – most importantly – happiness.
Merry, happy everything from all of ours to you and all of yours!