Craving Vanilla

Craving Vanilla May 7, 2012

The little girls at the pool were running, splashing, and calling out to one another.  There were 6 of them, and as their mothers called out to them to slow down and walk, I heard their names, all so creative as to be almost exotic.  It quickly became a game of make-believe as any gathering of 8 year old girls will, and they began calling out their “names” to each other.

“Call me Susan!”
“I’m Annie!”
“I want to be Emily, but spelled the regular way!”

Across the way, a little boy’s face changed from boredom to annoyance as he waited for his mother to stop explaining the elaborate snack she had devised for him.  His little hand kept darting out to snatch grapes and shove them in his mouth as his mother continued to regale her friends with tales of her own cleverness.

That’s when the truth hit me.  Motherhood has become a full contact competitive sport, and the children don’t seem to be amused.

Where birthday parties once were centered around cake, friends, and goofy games; they now involve designer cakes,

Exhibit A: The First Birthday cake

paid entertainment,

face painters,

elaborate bounce houses,

and expensive party favors.

Children’s parties have become an physical representation of how adored a child is instead of a celebration of his being alive.  It’s funny too, because the parties my own children talk about for weeks are the ones where they get to run and play with the other kids without too much input from the grownups.  They’d much rather the moms hang out in the kitchen than have them directing them in how to have fun.  They like the simple ones best.

Then there are the names….oh those horrendously spelled children’s names.  What are parents trying to prove?  The intention behind giving a unique name to each child and thereby making her stand out from her peers seems to be an obvious one.  Which is why you’re much more likely to meet a Paisley at the playground than a Mary. What these parents don’t seem to realize is that when everyone’s name is unique,they all blend in together and become a new kind of common.  So how to set them apart? Spelling of course, because Megan isn’t fabulous enough, so she’s names Meaghanne. And whom do these fabulously named children want to be?  “Emily, spelled the regular way.”

Are we doing a disservice to our children by being continually in pursuit of

In making their everyday lives a living fairy tale, what are we leaving for them to dream about?

They’re dreaming of vanilla.  They’re yearning for simple, honest, and unfussy.  They want to be able to pull on t-shirts and run in the grass.  They want to go to the pool and not have to worry about remembering to wear the matching hair bow.  They want mom to show she loves them by spending her time with them instead of her money on them. They want to be able to spell their own names.

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