That Special Gift – Part 1.


Featured Picture Book

NURSE CLEMENTINE by Simon James

(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)

Clementine Brown is a young girl who wanted to play nurse more than anything. Knowing this, her parents gave her a nurse’s outfit and a first-aid kit for her birthday. They also played along and agreed to be her patient and follow her instructions.  As far as Clementine was concerned she was a real nurse. “’You can call me Nurse Clementine from now on!’” she announced. She took care of every person, animal and thing she could find. Her only disappointment was when she ran out of patients. “’Nurses need someone to take care of,’ Clementine said with a sigh.” Then, there was “a real emergency” that called her to duty. Her brother Tommy’s accident required Clementine to do her best bandaging ever and to firmly insist that Tommy keep her giant bandage on for a “full week.” Luckily for Nurse Clementine, Tommy, being her best patient of all, was delighted with his very special bandage was more than willing to keep it on for as long as possible.

Parenting Thoughts 
Holiday Gifts

Dr. Mom:  The season of holiday gift buying is upon us and NURSE CLEMENTINE reminds us something important about that. Clementine received exactly what she wanted for her birthday. It wasn’t big, special, expensive, or impressive. It wasn’t the hottest new toy on TV. It was simply what she wanted.

I recommend that parents pay close attention to what the kids want and to that one thing they they ask for over and over again – not just at the moment they see a commercial on TV, but at many other times over the days and weeks leading up to the holiday. That item can be the best present ever. And, it gives a very special message: “I’m listening to you. What you say you need is important.”

 Darling Daughter:  I think it can be hard for kids today to know what they really want.  The commercials are unending and relentless.  Ezzy doesn’t hardly have time to process what she really wants.  She had a very hard time making a list for her birthday that is coming up in a few days. (We are entering “tweendom!” Yikes! Yea!)  I think it is easier when the kids are younger.  At this age, she still wants toys, but she is starting to “outgrow” most of the toys out there.  This makes tuning into her heart’s desire more of a challenge, but still do-able.

Dr. Mom:  Glad you think it is worth the effort.

Of course, sometimes requests are not reasonable for your family. It’s best to tell children that as soon as the request is made, so they don’t build up hopes that can’t come true. But in many cases, that one thing that is talked about is something simple – or could be simple if you thought about it simply. For example, if a young child is saying they need a hideout, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an elaborate constructed item for the backyard. It could be something you make from cardboard for a corner in the family room or basement playroom. This is especially good for very young children. As long as they can play with it the way they want to, it doesn’t necessarily have to be made of the most fancy, expensive materials.

 I call this the “I should have just bought a cardboard box” syndrome.  How many times have you seen this after a child is given an expensive toy? While she is waiting for the toy to be extracted from the over-the-top packaging, she starts playing with the box it came in and then ignores the toy that came inside the box.  🙂

Many Times

That one special thing could also be something so unusual – not like most gifts – that it is easy to disregard it and think it isn’t a serious request. Those are things that  are especially fun for children. They often become the best gift of the holiday.

For example, we gave our oldest daughter a box of desk supplies one year – rubber bands, paper clips, pencils, erasers, and pens. It’s what she had been asking for. We had home offices, and she liked to pretend she was an office worker just like her Mom and Dad. She loved her present!

Still LOVE office supplies to this day.  Back to school specials, coupons, and freebies are like winning the lottery!  🙂

I know what I’m getting you for the holiday this year!

Another year we bought our youngest daughter crutches for Christmas. She had been asking and asking for them so she could play doctor with them. If I hadn’t stopped to think about it, I would have just ignored that request and reached for a fancy doctor kit. But, instead I asked myself, “Why not?”

I still say she was practicing for her future high school/college sports career. 😉 

It is true that we came home with many more crutches throughout her sports years – for real injuries. And, I have to say, she never seemed to mind.

I remember going to the drugstore on Christmas Eve to purchase their smallest sized crutches. Other customers in the store were saying how sorry they were. They assumed I had a preschooler at home on Christmas Eve with a broken leg. For a while I thought the store manager was going to give them to me for free, because he felt so bad for me. All of the “so sorry” attention was amusing to me knowing my daughter was just fine – she just loved to pretend. Once I explained that the crutches were for a perfectly normal, healthy four-year-old at home, we all shared a good laugh.

I know that more and more parents do their holiday shopping well ahead of time – long before the kids might really settle into that one favorite thing. Therefore, I suggest that parents hold back some of their gift budget for one last purchase in the last few days when they have figured out that one item that means the most to the child.

This would be me.  I keep my eyes peeled for super deals and put my purchases away for all the upcoming gift giving occasions (birthday, Christmas, Easter).  If I don’t watch what I’m doing, I end up having to make up all kinds of holidays to give all the gifts I have stockpiled. (happy flag day, merry “talk like a pirate” day, etc.)  I do try to get E. one or two things from her current wish list that I think would be the most meaningful items – that means we tend to skip the “as seen on TV” items that end up on the list from all the commercials she sees.

Our parenting tips for the next two weeks are going to be about interesting ways to think about holiday gifts for kids. I hope they will inspire you to be creative about some very different kinds of gifts for your children. (Gift ideas)

 Read All About It

GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson, and David Bredehoft

 Surf the Internet:
  • self-esteem
  • pretend play
  • gifts for kids
  • overindulgence

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