My son goes to school four days a week, and my husband and I split the days that we pick him up. Recently, D has started running down the stairs and opening the garage door to greet me. “Mommy!! You are home! I have missed you!” he screams and he runs around the car to give me a giant hug. It’s the best part of my day when I see his smiling face at the door.
The other day, after we had our Mommy and son hugfest he asked, “Did you bring me a surprise? Is there something in your bag?” Coincidentally I did pick up some food from the store that day, so I answered with honesty, “why yes, yes I do have a surprise for you!” He got so excited and as he ran back upstairs he kept asking me what it was and promptly told Daddy that I had brought a surprise.
I barely put my bag down before he shoved his little hand in there and brought out a container, asking what it was. I deflected the question back at him. “What do you think it is,” I challenged.
“Burrata!” shouted my son and quickly asked if he could have some. Okay, okay, I know most four-year-olds don’t have a very advanced palate, but D really loves cheese, and burrata is one of his favorites. The store that I buy it from doesn’t always have enough in stock, so it is kind of a treat when I bring it home.
The next night we had a repeat of the same scenario in the garage, and once again D asked if I brought home a surprise. This time I didn’t have anything material, but I told him that I had a surprise nonetheless. He got all excited and looked in the direction of my bag, but I quickly intervened and told him that it wasn’t something tangible. Instead, his surprise was a hug. I wasn’t sure just how he would react, but he smiled a huge smile and gave me a huge hug. Then he told me that it was a great surprise. And you know what, it didn’t cost a thing! Surprises don’t have to cost money, and sometimes it’s the free surprises that are worth more. Take the money you would have spent on a small surprise, throw it into a savings account and reap the rewards later.
D and I now have our own little game where we randomly ask each other for surprises. On a rare occasion I will actually give him a little gift, but the majority of the time it’s just a sign of affection, like a hug and kiss or a song. Sometimes I find something from outside, like a rock or a leaf and I give that to him. What I learned from this whole experience is that it’s not the actual object that is important, and certainly not it’s cost. What matters is that my son knows that I am thinking of him, and also vice-versa. I can see that he gets very excited and proud to show me the surprise that he got for me, whatever it is. Plus, I am teaching him happiness and thoughtfulness are not tied to material objects.
What kind of little games do you have with your kids, to show them you are thinking of them?