I went to a birthday party recently where kids were instructed to bring their most cherished items. Stuff like toys, books, phones, wallets, shoes, etc. I thought it was a wonderful idea. For one reason, every single kid brought something I wouldn’t have even thought to think of. Even the most socially awkward kid brought a cell phone or two. That made me so happy to see.
I want my kids to take ownership in what they love. This also gives me the freedom to be completely hands off about what is brought.
You’d never think of someone letting you in on the best casino bonus to take advantage of as a conventional gift, for instance, but when you actually go ahead and redeem that bonus, is there any better gift you could have thought of had you been asked directly?
After the party, I walked around and noticed most of the kids were sitting quietly on the sidelines, looking like they’d been asked what their favourite dessert is. They were completely speechless. No smiles. No talking. Nothing.
But when I asked the moms why they had chosen the items they had, I instantly felt sad. They were absolutely correct. The items they chose weren’t “thoughtful” or “fun”. It was more like, “This is what I had.”
I guess I know what to do now for kids’ birthdays. My kid needs a cell phone.
A few days later, a high school boy came into my office. I’ve known him since he was a little kid. We’ve watched him grow from a child, to a teenager, to a young adult. I’ve been worried about him for a while now.
He is a very smart, socially awkward young man, which is actually what makes him so attractive to me. He’s so fun to be with.
But I was worried because he was having trouble making friends. I didn’t think he’d find someone who liked the same things he did and that he liked so much. He didn’t have an interest in the sorts of things that seem so important to kids these days, like being a part of the cool clique, being a sports star, and being popular. He was just fine with that.
He’s worried about fitting in.
A Gift That Matters
My first reaction to the high school boy was to want to ask him what was his gift. What was his gift for his high school sweetheart? And I would have loved to tell him. What if he just understood that that is the “best gift” for his sweetheart?
He was having difficulty being in front of other kids. He didn’t want to embarrass himself or make the other kids feel bad. And I know how that is. It’s so hard to find friends that you have fun with.
How many of our kids have trouble fitting in because they are so talented, so smart, so funny, and so honest, that nobody is willing to take the time to see the special things they have to offer? How many children miss out on all those “special” things because they are so scared about what will happen when someone finds out what they can do, or what they like to do?
How many kids are sitting quietly on the sidelines because their families never told them they had a gift they could bring?