Tomorrow is Jacob’s 5th birthday. It will be a day of great happiness and celebration around here despite the distractions of my job, preparations for the impending move, and another trip to the doctor for Kate. Five is an important age. In addition to attending kindergarten, Jacob will learn how to write, swim, ride a bike, and tie his shoes. He will lose his first tooth, no doubt quickly followed by his second and third. And he will continue to grow, physically and intellectually, into a Big Boy.
Unfortunately, he will also become more aware of the recent issues surrounding my family. As much as we would like to shield both kids from any unpleasantness, Kate and I don’t make a habit of lying to them. We want them to know why Grandma hasn’t called or contacted them in several months, why we had to leave Grandpa’s memorial early, and why their mother was reprimanded in front of them. We don’t tell them what to think – we ask them what they think and then we discuss it.
I bring this up because today we returned home from various errands to find a box on our front step. A big box. A box containing birthday present(s) for Jacob. I knew immediately who it was from, but I checked the return address just in case. But, as I suspected, it’s from Grandma. And it’s a good thing the return address is on there.
Because it’s going back, unopened.
My kids are not for sale. You cannot buy their love with presents, you must earn it with your actions. You must demonstrate far more effort than the ability to swipe a credit card. You must respect their mother. You must listen to me when I tell you things are not okay. You must face conflict and not ignore the mistakes you make. You must act like an adult – not like a spoiled child.
The last time I saw you, as I was attempting to defend my wife, you looked me in the face and said, “Goodbye!” You said it with a finality that clearly displayed your anger and contempt. Since then you have made no attempt to contact me concerning this incident. Not one word. Despite this, you, your sister’s family, and a few friends frequent this blog multiple times a day. You care enough to read and gossip, but not enough to do anything about it.
What makes you think that you can act this way and then send my son presents?
We’re not telling Jacob about the box for now – he doesn’t need to hear about any more family conflict on his special day. He’s a great kid – thoughtful and brave. I know he could easily handle it. But not tomorrow.
Tomorrow the focus is on him, and those who have earned the right to share the day with us.