4.11.2013

Whadja Get Me, Dad?

http://suppliesforhotels.com/images/new/New%20111808/soap-s4.jpgLast month, I had a business meeting in Washington DC.  One of the great things about Philly is being able to do business in the nation's capital without missing breakfast and school drop-off in the morning or dinner and bedtime stories in the evening.

And one of the great things about being a dad is getting done with your business stuff and buying your kids fun things at some museum gift shop.  Sure enough, my meeting was not far from the National Geographic Museum, which has a very good gift shop.  So good, in fact, that this spendthrift had trouble keeping the spending to one book each (a book of activities for Aaron, and a road trip atlas for Jada).

Of course, even better than buying gifts is giving them, since you get to see the delight in your kids' eyes as they receive something new and fun, and show unadulterated appreciation that you thought of them enough when you were out of town to buy them a souvenir of your trip.  My dad was a spendthrift like I am now, but I still remember that he got me and my sister stuff when he had to go out of town.

I'm reminded of a business trip I took when I used to run a youth entrepreneurship program way back when.  I forget where I was coming from, but I remember going straight back to the office, right in time for our after-school program.

When I rolled in with my rolling suitcase, the students remembered that I had told them the week before that I was going to be out of town for a few days.  One came up to me and said, "Whadja get me, Dad?"  Somewhat flustered, since it probably would've been nice if I had thought to get him and the others something, I fished around in my bag, found some shampoos and soaps that I swiped from my hotel room, thrust them into my student's hand, and said, "Here!"

Everyone realized it wasn't a real gift, including the recipient of the soaps and shampoos.  But you could tell he was touched by the special treat of getting something new and fun from someone important in his life who had gone away for a few days and who had now returned.  This student didn't have a dad at all, let alone one who delighted in buying him something on a business trip and who delighted in giving it to him upon his return.

Sometimes we chastise kids for having a "whadja get me, Dad" mentality.  And, to be sure, expecting and fixating on stuff is not good.  But c'mon: let kids have that desire, to get something new and fun, from someone important to them who remembered, amidst all the other important stuff going on during their trip, to get a little something to give upon their return.
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