I had left a Toys R Us catalog on the dining room table and told my boys they could circle the items they liked. My middle son went first. He chose red pen. Then my youngest, with a green pen. All the while, my oldest was peeking over their shoulders, censoring them.
“You can’t circle that!”
“You’re never gonna get that!”
“That’s way too much!”
“You don’t need that!”
“You can’t have that – I wanted that!”
I had to keep reminding him that I had only asked them to circle the things they liked. Not once did I make any promises about what they would actually get, and oh-by-the-way, “how would I know anyway, what Santa might be planning?”
When it was my oldest’s turn (in brown pen), he circled a few things of his own, along with some Barbie and Hello Kitty items (with “J.K.” written next to them). I also noticed that he had crossed out some of his brothers’ selections, further editing their choices.
I told the boys, while looking pointedly at my oldest, “It’s okay to both want the same thing. It’s okay not to want the same thing. You’re not in charge of deciding what someone else does or doesn’t want.”
They all proceeded to vie for additional turns with the catalog, which is how it attained its “well-loved” look.
“It’s also okay to want something even if you have no idea how you might get it. How are you ever going to get what you want out of life if you don’t know what you want?”