Lately, instead of standing at the bedroom door, calling for me, Zachary has quietly lain in bed until his clock says 7:00. Then, he has come into our room and stood next to me. “Mommy,” he says, “the clock says seven-zero-seven.”
“Then it must be time to get up, baby. Come give me a kiss and then I’ll take you to the bathroom.” I give him a quick snuggle and then we take a deep breath before the chaos of Benjamin and breakfast.
Then there was this morning. “Mommy, the clock says seven-one-one.”
“Then it must be time to get up. Would you like a quick snuggle?” He climbed into bed and curled his thin little body into my arms. What a nice treat to wake up to. And then, from deep in the ball of little boy I cuddled in my arms, I heard the lament, the cry of children throughout the ages.
“I don’t have enough new presents.”
“Zach, when it is your birthday or Hanukkah, you can have presents.”
“But I don’t have enough new trains.”
“Zach, you have a lot of nice toys, and I just bought you Legos. Please don’t whine.”
“But,” he began again, with the logic that seems iron-clad to anyone under the age of seventeen and absurd to anyone over the age of twenty-three, “I need some new presents.”
Let me tell you something, kiddo. You need many things. You need nourishing food. You need a warm bed. You need parents who love you and protect you from the brother who seems intent upon eating you. You need sunscreen and a raincoat.
But more trains? You definitely do not need any more trains.
The refrain began again while I am making oatmeal. “Mommy, I need more new toys.”
“Zachary, there are children who have no houses. There are children who have no food. You want more new toys, but you do not need them.”
“But Mommy,” he tries a different tack, “I need another birthday.”
“That’s it. One more word about this and you are going to need to leave the kitchen until you are finished whining.”
He climbs under the table, presumably to grumble quietly to himself and his brother about the unfairness of mommies who cannot distinguish between luxuries and necessities.