In an art museum gift shop, my 5-year-old finds a hands-on game on display. There are colorful blocks and cards displaying different configurations and he is immediately hooked. While the rest of the family wanders past paint brushes and coffee table books and actual pieces of art ready to be taken home for a price, Harper hooks his hands around solid squares and circles and cones and starts building abstract structures. This lasts for close to 20 minutes. Then suddenly everyone else is ready to go. He cleans up his mess and is ready to head out without a word.
But I have noticed how much he likes this game, and overcoming my tendency to be tight with random expenditures, I grab a sealed game box and walk to the counter as everyone heads to the exit. It takes Harper a minute and then he suddenly realizes what is happening. He walks to my side as I stand at the cash register and whispers softly. I can’t hear him at all. I lean down and he mumbles again. I ask one more time for him to repeat. He pulls my ear close to his lips and shyly asks:
“Can I keep that in MY room?”
When we are given an opportunity or a gift, there are several ways to respond.
- Pride – This is where we act ungrateful, where we act like it is only common sense that we have received this thing. We deserve it. We tested it in the store. We were well-behaved in an adult surrounding. We worked for it. It owes us to be owned by us.
This is a natural human response – especially when we HAVE worked hard, played by the rules, been good.
- Paranoia – This is when we cower in fear because we might mess up. We might lose the pieces, break the game board or never win the game. There is a chance we might spoil it anyway, so maybe we shouldn’t even bother trying.
This is the opposite of pride. It is a lack of self-esteem – but it is also an insult to the giver. Pay the giver, the circumstance, the universe enough respect to give it a shot. They think you can handle it. You should, too.
- Preciousness – This is what Harper chose to do. He didn’t think I owed him that game. And he knows his room is a mess. But he realizes this opportunity is special and he wants to prove his gratitude with his actions. He is up to the challenge of protecting my investment.
So how do you respond when there is a challenge, a promotion, an unexpected bonus or a surprise weekend opportunity? Stifle the arrogance, overcome the fear and find a place to put the gift on display. You can do it.