Do you remember getting your first watch? I remember getting mine for Christmas when I was in third grade. Watches were a big deal--expensive and something to really take care of. Today, getting a watch feels like no big deal--for $5 you can get a decent-looking one, or two or three, at Kmart. You can even get one for your young child complete with the Teletubbies.
E will be getting her first watch for Christmas. She's been wanting a watch for a long time, but she has had to wait until third grade and until she has learned to tell time. Of course, for years now she has been able to tell us the time by reading a digital clock, but she hasn't understood time. And, developmentally, she hasn't been really aware of time--where she is in time. She's about to turn nine and she's truly present in her body in both space and time. It's now time for that watch.
It's all too easy to give children things before they are developmentally ready. This year, we let H buy her own ipod. We had thought we'd wait until age 13, but she really wanted it and had earned enough money. Well, she isn't ready for it. She's just not that into hanging and listening to music, and it has raised lyrics issues that she doesn't even comprehend. If we had waited, it would have been all the more special to her. Aah, you learn so much from the first child!
As parents it's easy to get excited about buying the toy *you* want. It's easy to buy the toy the child really wants. It's harder to step back and think about the gift of time. By waiting on the watch, we've been giving E the gift of time. We've been giving her the gift of anticipation. We've been giving her the gift of achievement. We've been giving her the gift of an unhurried childhood. It only we could be this intentional with all the gifts we give our children!