Friday, December 14, 2007

Neti's Christmas Moral Dilemma


I just got back from taking all four girls to WalMart to buy a modest gift for Mommy while she's at work. Easy for Bethany and Kailey. Easy for Meke. Especially hard for Neti.

Neti and Meke took the entire contents of their piggie bank $6.78 and $2.67 respectively. You'd think Neti had won one of those "fill-your-cart-with-as-much-stuff-as-you-can-in-a-minute" contests. She wanted to buy EVERYTHING. Not ANYTHING. EVERYTHING! It started from the moment we stepped in the store.

"OOOOOH! I want it, Daddy."

"No, Neti, Mommy doesn't want glitter lipgloss."

"Daddy, over here."

"No, Neti, we already have toothpaste. That's not a good gift."

"I like it down here, Daddy."

"Neti, those are screws. Mommy doesn't need screws."

Everything was fair game.

"Daddy, can I get this?...Daddy, come look...Daddy..."


Finally, I realized that she wasn't asking permission to buy these things for Mommy. She was shopping for herself. I picked her up and put her in the cart.

"Neti, we're not here to buy things for Neti. We came to buy something nice for Mommy for Christmas."

"Oooooh. I want the phone, Daddy. Can I have the phone? I like the phone."

"NETI. LISTEN. We're not here to buy for Neti. We're here to buy for Mommy! Mommy doesn't want a Barbie phone. What would Mommy like? That's what we're here to buy."

"I want a coloring book. We don't have that one, Daddy. Can I get it?"


We finally settled on a gift - Neti reluctantly so. I informed our crew that since Neti and Meke didn't have quite enough money that Daddy would pitch in. "We can make this gift from Neti and Meke and Daddy."

Neti was visibly opposed. She folded her arms, shrinking down in the cart with her bottom lip protruding, "That doesn't make sense. That's three and one."

"Yes, Neti. Sometimes three people can give one gift to one person."

"But that doesn't make sense."


"So what do you want to buy Mommy, Neti?"

"A dress."

"But you don't have enough money for a dress. And Mommy doesn't wear dresses very much."

"I'll show you, Daddy. Go over there."

She proceded to direct me to the lingerie section where she picked out her favorite red "dress" to give to Mommy.


We didn't get it (Rhonda will be happy to read this part).

Neti shrunk down in the cart and resumed her sour look. She started talking under her breath to herself. "I want to buy the phone."

UGH!!!! I wanted to give my best you-have-more-toys-in-your-toybox-than-the-entire-Ethiopian-orphanage lecture. Or maybe the you-have-two-week's-Ethiopian-wages-in-that-plastic-baggie lecture would do the trick. Instead, I took a different approach. Maybe this isn't a lesson she can learn here at WalMart with all the temptations. Maybe we'd have to put this lesson off until Christmas day.

"Neti, you can choose. You can buy the phone for Neti. But you won't be able to buy the gift for Mommy. The gift will only be from Meke and Daddy, not Neti."

"And you can write Neti on it too."

"No, Neti. We can't write 'from Neti' if only Daddy and Meke buy it. That's lying because Neti didn't really buy it."


"What do you want to do, Neti."

More silence. Wheels turning.

I allowed her to process it for a good minute or two.

"Neti, what do you want to do?"

"I want the phone."

I repeated the consequences. "So you want the gift to only say 'from Meke and Daddy'?"

(staring into space, in a very quiet whine) "I want the phone."

Satisfied that this was a Christmas day lesson we made our way to the phone. Just an aisle away, a second thought:

"I want to buy for Mommy."


We turned around again and purchased Mommy's gift. Neti's name will be on the package.

Did she learn?


At 11:53 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

I think this is a hard lesson for all children, but the language barrier doesn't help. Sounds like you did a great job (as usual). Although I think the red "dress" would have made a nice gift! :-)

At 8:43 AM , Blogger Sharon said...

The red "dress" would have been a hoot! Especially if it had been just from the girls! However, we are doing the same type of lessons this year! Each of the kids have earned their own money to buy gifts for whom ever they choose!

In fact, Rob asked Nadine (3)the other day what she was going to do with her money. They had just added some more change to her bank - and she said "I don't know, I took my other box of pennies to church and gave to it God. Maybe I'll give it to God for Christmas." (She was referring to her alabaster box - that she had spent months filling! She last Albaster Sunday was so excited to sit in "big" church and take her box to the alter to give to God!)

Kids can even teach us lessons! Eh?!?

At 8:42 PM , Blogger kjwistrom said...

Hello Waal family - we have been following your blog for quite some time now and my kids LOVE it. Neti and Meke are household names here. We are in the process of adopting children from Ethiopia with AWAA. Our dossier has been in Ethiopia since mid-November. Your parenting is honest and quite brilliant and your storytelling is outstanding. Merry Christmas and continued blessings to your entire beautiful family!! From Karen & Jay Wistrom and family in Minnesota

At 11:31 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Good call on the red dress. You know, it probably still blows their young minds to go into a WalMart and see ALL that is there. Sounds like you did an excellent job trying to teach the right thing. Did she learn? Sounds like it but probably one of those 'time will tell' things. But your consistency with them all is huge.

The only thing I have an issue with is that the girls have much more in their piggy banks then I do. :)

At 8:16 PM , Blogger Scott Williams said...

Red's a pretty color...

At 3:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I would think she did learn, but I bet Rhonda's appreciation will seal the lesson forever in Neti's heart. Way to go, Dad. However, the Barbie phone is a very realistic temptation, and if your wife knew that it could have been a lovely red "dress," I think she, too, could learn to love the phone!

Merica (AWAA)


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