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Paper Hearts

Olivia and I just discovered the magical (and overpriced) world of Build-A-Bear.  I took her there on her fourth birthday and we made a big fun day of it.  (Last year we went to the fair.)  I’m not going to lie, it was pretty awesome and I think I had as much fun as she did.  It was a special occasion so we went all-out …well, almost.  Much to Olivia’s dismay, I refused to purchase roller-skates for the stuffed critter that were going to be an additional $28.  Even so, the birthday girl ended up with a super cute stuffed friend, several accessories, and a spiffy little backpack to carry it in, all for the nominal price of around $60.  The experience is what made that price hurt a little less because it was different than simply buying an expensive toy.   In my book, or checkbook if you will, $60 is kind of costly (I realize money is relative depending on how much or little you have).  Your child’s happiness is priceless though, right?  Yes; but thankfully my kiddo’s happiness doesn’t need to be backed by a hefty household income.

For instance, one of Olivia’s favorite things to do is to cut up paper with scissors.  (I might go into the confetti business soon.)  Not long ago we were playing this “game,” and I cut out a paper heart and gave it to Olivia.  Her reaction was adorable.  You would have thought the thing was made of solid gold.  Then I took it up a notch and cut out some paper people.  Olivia was highly impressed (she’s still little so that’s easy to do).  Afterwards, she played with that silly paper heart and the cutout people for days, even weeks.  It’s not like they were even anything fancy because I’m certainly no papercutting artist and they were created from paper I’d pulled out of the recycle bin.  Yet, she was completely enthralled.

Actually, many of Olivia’s favorite toys are not things we’ve spent a great deal of money on.  Balloons, for instance, are a huge hit.  Put on some music and we will bat a balloon around for hours.  It’s not to say that Olivia doesn’t have many toys.  She in fact has quite a lot, and depending on the context I’d even go so far as to call her spoiled.  Although, I think she probably has less than most kids I know.  We just try not to go overboard, partly because we can’t afford it, but also because we are trying to shape her character as best we can (no easy task).  Kendall and I both grew up with very modest, but full childhoods and we still appreciate those lessons learned and how they shaped us – which naturally, you never realize until you’re much older.  We simply want to instill the same values in our little girl.  (Hopefully she too, will one day thank us for making her get a job when she’s a teenager haha.)

I once read somewhere (wish I could remember where) that children really need presence not presents.  How wonderful and wise a statement, but not always an easy thing to do this day and age with responsibilities, financial strains, and so very many distractions.  I am thankful every day (even on the ones that have me pulling my hair out) that I am able to stay home with Olivia.  I very much enjoy our time together and I hope and pray that I’m doing a good job of it (some days I seriously wonder).  I’m basically a big kid at heart so I like dance parties, balloon dodge ball, rolling cars around, making toys talk in funny voices, and so forth.  And when I’m busy and my daughter looks up and me and says, “Mommy, will you play with me?” I do my best to make that happen.  There will come a time when she won’t ask me to play anymore and I will be the one feeling left out.  It makes me sad to even think about it.  So for now I will do my best.  I will play, be silly, read stories, cuddle, and allow my heart to melt every time she puts her little hand in mine.  I will try hard to live in each ephemeral moment.  And I will relish the fact that I can make her blissfully happy with a silly paper heart.

(I’m also looking forward to our next Build-A-Bear trip!)