I ran a half-marathon on Saturday. M and S and my mom came to cheer me on (which I really needed). After I finished, we hung around to watch the marathoners finish. There were three athletes using wheelchairs in the race and M was fascinated.
I assumed his fascination was about the people using the chairs. We talked about what amazing athletes they are and how cool they were. He couldn’t careless about them. What he wanted was the chair. This became abundantly clear when, while trying to fall asleep that night, he says, “Mama? Can I have a wheelchair?” He went on to explain that his legs get really tired and that he thinks he needs a wheelchair to get around. What I thought was admiration was really just plotting to get something else.
He has entered that stage. He wants things. My mom doesn’t help (sorry, Mom). She, as is her job, loves to buy him things: books, instruments, toys, food, whatever he asks for. This has fueled the fire a little. Now, he asks to go to the local toy store to buy something specific. Of course, he has no concept of how much things cost or about expendable income, so when we say no or not right now, he doesn’t get it.
There is a part of me that wants to give him everything he wants, to shower him gifts and luxuries we can’t afford. But there is a bigger part of me that knows that it is not good for him, that he will have to learn that life just doesn’t work that way. Choices have to be made, sacrifices. And sometimes, when you are patient, you can have what you want.
We got M a piggy bank about a year ago. Her name is Penny. Whenever there is loose change around the house, M gets to put it in Penny. Last week, he got to take $6 out of Penny and go to the store to buy whatever he wanted. When he chose a harmonica and took it to the counter, he understood that he was spending his money that he had saved so he could have something that he wanted.
He still doesn’t understand how much things cost or about expendable income, but its a start. Now I have to get to him to understand why he can’t have a wheelchair. I’ll work on that tomorrow.