Monday, December 21, 2009

How Much is that Baby in the Window?

More reasons to stop and think before acting, before speaking, keep rearing their nagging, yet necessary heads. I remember, Before Dory, I did a lot more act and ask questions later, leap then look. Turn ‘em and burn ‘em as people in the restaurant business say. Now, everything merits consideration, everything merits a little thought, a little contemplation.

Money (surprise!) is one of them.

Christmas is almost here- have you heard? I’m thinking about presents, about what to get, wants versus needs, practical or playful, who’s got the sale, one big item or many small? All these questions for a person who will happily play with her shoes for half an hour, if, mister, you'll spare the time to play with her.

That’s the truth of Dory; it’s not about the toys. She is yet to sit with a toy for longer than five minutes and be entirely entertained. She wants interaction. She wants communication. Toys are fun, but if there’s no living, breathing being attached to the other end, there's not much point. Dory enjoys the toys only in as much as they work in the game she and I or she and her dad or she and her grandparents play. Toys are a small part of the experience and toys are certainly not limited to what comes in a brightly colored, shiny cardboard box from Toys ‘R Us. Some of her current favorites are: plastic bowls, a wooden spoon, an empty Christmas tin, and her toothbrush. Christmas could come and go without a single item unwrapped and I suspect she would not miss a thing.

Which, being a great fan of “things," sends me to my thinking chair. How much of the desire for some, for more, for all of it, is the child and how much is what he’s witnessed from older, wiser people? When do things stop being wants and become needs? When do they stop being things and become worth, our own worthiness based on the having or not having? When do they determine who we are and our importance to the world?

There are so many interesting things to get and have. There is joy in picking something out, especially for Dory, and thinking how much fun we could have, the play and imagination this one little item could inspire from each of us. Yet... I see a toy that looks interesting and I say to my daughter: “We need to get you one of those!” But do we? Do we NEED to get her one? Or might it be fun? Would it be interesting? Usually we don’t get the toy I find so fascinating (truthfully I forget it five minutes later), but what kind of seeds have my words sown? My implication she “needs” something, does that tell her she’s not whole in who she is, she's incomplete without that particular item at the sale price of $19.95? Need- such a little word, such big consequences. Just something for me to consider...

I know, I know. I think a little. Maybe a little too much. I do. And if you’re giving your screen a funny look over all these questions, I understand. Yet in these last five years, since having a baby especially, my curiosity knows no bounds. What makes me Me? What makes me better? What makes me who I am? In fact, who am I?

And, as this pertain to the subject of this blog, this person, this whole person, quite small now, but already possessing a great big soul- how do I relate to her on this subject? What do I show her, day-in and day-out? Am I living what I speak? How do I define myself by what I own or don't own, what I have bought, have kept, have thrown away, have left sitting in the store? I have an audience of one and it’s never been more important that I bring my best to the stage. My honest, genuine, real self.

Who, it turns out, has a lot more questions than answers. Son of a gun. But I'm starting to think. And all that thinking leads me to feeling: when in doubt, appreciate. I realize, the more I can appreciate the function and use of money without kneeling at the altar of financial worth and material accumulation, the better service I can be to myself, my daughter, my family, my world. The more I can remember, money comes in and money goes out and we get on with life regardless... the easier my heart, the steadier my hands, the more fun my pocketbook. Money comes in, money goes out, and we go along, mostly merrily, sometimes not, regardless.

And is there benefit for Dory to see these two people, these two parents, who may not always have all the trimmings and yet are happy in the circumstances? To not have access to everything at the moment and yet be peaceful in what-is. To see that money is only as limiting as we choose to make it. Money can be expansive and fun. But it’s not who I am, not who she is. It does not define her self-worth or her well-being. And if I can think a little before I speak, maybe I won't define her either.

Oh- and your daily double answer to the question posed in the title: Absolutely priceless.

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