Have you ever been in the situation where you feel the need to crush your child's dreams preemptively before they get their hopes up too incredibly high?
I found myself in this situation recently when my children began asking for both Nintendo DSs and Leapsters for Christmas. One child asked for a kid-sized remote controlled robot that he could play football with, tackle, and that would make his bed for him in the morning.
I was caught off guard as this was the first time they had asked for high-priced electronics or any robot, for that matter. In the past, I have had children wish for puzzles, toy dinosaurs, a guitar, and even a necktie. But, they hadn't crossed over to the land of "Not Going To Happen" before. They weren't trying to be greedy; they don't really have a clue how much things cost. Even I don't know how much that mythical robot would cost.
I struggled with how to handle this. Part of the joy of Christmas (beyond the obvious joy of Jesus, of course) is imagining which gift will have your name on it. What will be under all that wrapping paper? And I can tell you one thing - Nintendo will not be unwrapped. Santa usually brings each child one or two special gifts (under $25), books and things like toothbrushes and socks.
So, rather than have them focused on what they were never going to get, and end up utterly disappointed, I cut those daydreams down to size.
I told the children, who are very excited about Santa (except the oldest who is excited, but wise about "santa"), that I wrote a letter to Santa telling him to please not bring expensive electronics or robots. The obvious disappointment ensued.
"Why can't Santa bring us a DS or Leapster?" One child asked.
"Those things are very expensive for the elves to make." I told them. "We don't want other children to go without because buying those for a family this size would get very pricey. Besides, I want you guys to play with each other and not be staring at your own little screen all day."
They let their fantasy presents go with a sigh and then started thinking about other things Santa might bring. "Maybe I'll get a magic kit or Legos" One child said. Another added, "Yeah, maybe he will bring the robot that I can play football with, but it just can't make my bed."
It looks like I will have to crush those dreams down a little bit more.