The Farmer's Wife
I'm Experimenting On My Kids
I’m experimenting on my kids.
Don’t tell them that.
Some of you actually know my kids, so I’m serious,
What’s the experiment?
For the last several months, I’ve been curating lack in their lives.
Before you call Protective Services, don’t worry… my kids are clothed and fed.
But here’s what I mean:
Convenience in America has turned into quite the little beast.
Somewhere along the line, convenience has blurred into my “right”.
Consumerism is good at this, dishing out a hefty “You deserve _______” message anywhere from 6,000-10,000 times a day.
Who says I deserve the shiny new car?
What if Americans have lost all sense of lack?
What if Americans don’t even know HOW to be thankful anymore?
If you pulled a kid from the slums of Africa, and handed them a nicely wrapped Christmas present, I don’t think they would say, “I deserve 2 Christmas presents instead of 1”... I think they’d just be thankful for anything - maybe some food - and clothes - and shelter.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, my kids expect more than one Christmas present.
As I’ve been slowly wrapping gifts throughout this season, my girls are keeping family score of who's who under the tree.
Perhaps this is a silly game, (pretty sure I did it as a kid too), or perhaps this is a spot for teaching.
Trouble is, I’m a gifter mom - I LOVE a good ol’ pile of Christmas presents that will make them squeal and squirm until Christmas morning.
But after last Christmas, I put a sticky note in my brain that simply read too much.
What would happen if we could curate some lack in our kids’ lives in order to create thankfulness.
Will we scar them for life? Hopefully not.
Want to join the experiment?
Experiment #1: Bread (no - I’m not starving them)
Since September, Jonathan has been on the Paleo diet (plus raw dairy!) to aid in the healing of lyme disease. I’ve joined him for moral support and we’ve quazi taken the kids along for the ride. This means that we haven’t had or bought much wheat bread for four months. (Don’t worry, I feed them other things & we’re getting pretty good at eating things like almond flour biscuits.)...
I’ll give you one guess what this bread-lack has created.
Yep - lack and THANKFULNESS. The other day, my girls spent the afternoon at Grandma’s house and they returned with one of their Christmas gifts: a loaf of freshly baked bread.
You would think that they went to the North Pole and hung out with Santa himself. They. were. SO. THANKFUL
IF they get bread without question at all times, they would never have experienced that depth of thankfulness. We’re talking freak out - jump around the house thankfulness. It was beautiful.
IF we always get something without question, thankfulness is easily forgotten
Experiment #2: Pajamas (before you think I’m a horrible mom, hear me out)
All three kids are growing like weeds.
Will they die from wearing pajamas that are too short?
Nope. They won’t. Is it fun to wear clothes that don’t fit? No…. but sometimes it’s good to feel the need for something. Sometimes discomfort is the price of actual thankfulness.
Guess what’s under our tree right now? New pajamas - two pairs for each kid.
I guarantee that they will be more appreciative of them because they actually NEED them… If they had no void, they wouldn’t care one little bit that I bought new jammies for them.
Now - I get to give them the gift of jammies WITH the gift of thankfulness
Experiment #3: Toothbrushes.
Okay, okay… The more I write, the more awful I’m making myself sound.
My kids DO have toothbrushes. A very expensive electric toothbrush in fact. But that’s the “trouble”. It’s “a” toothbrush and they both have their own head that they pop on the common base.
Talk about first-world problems, but my GOODNESS, sharing a toothbrush base has been a stretching experience. (for them and for me!)...
Every.single.night, when everyone is too tired for human interaction, we have to conquer the battle of treating others like you want to be treated.
It has been an utter pain in the neck for me (again - first world problems here)... but I KNOW that my girls feel it. Every night is a race to the bathroom to try and be the first to get the brush so that they aren’t the last getting ready for bed. It is no fun.
They feel lack.
So guess what’s under our tree right now? -- You better believe I found a screaming deal on two BRAND NEW toothbrushes of their very own! And yes, they are pink. (Mums the word, friends, because we have another 5 days before they get to open them!)
Experiment #4: Toothbrush heads
Yes, I said it. We’re going deep into this lack thing.
The bristles on the head of one of my daughter’s toothbrush heads have been falling out for weeks, but I haven’t been able to find replacements AND the new style of toothbrush is literally under the tree right now, so I’m not going to go hunting and spend money on the wrong style of brush.
She FEELS the lack. She is annoyed. I am annoyed. She gets frustrated. I get sick of hearing about it… We’re FEELIN’’ it.
How much sweeter is Christmas morning going to be when she opens her very own brand new toothbrush that she never has to share with her sister ever again!? I’d rob her of that sweetness if I just answered lack’s beck and call on the spot.
Instead, I’m curating lack for the purpose of thankfulness.
Experiment #5: Toys
This is a post for a different day, but long story short, both girls told me that they wanted a certain toy.
Instead of just satisfying the desire, these girls have been working for over 3 months to earn it.
This week, they earned the final piece of that goal, and let.me.tell.you. Out-of-control excitement is an understatement. I’ve never seen them so excited for anything in their lives.
If I would have satisfied their desire on the spot, I would have robbed them of that amazing feeling of a job well done, and the longing-expectant hope of earning something they really wanted.
It was so beautiful! Was it easy? Absolutely not!
Was it worth it? Absolutely YES!
That same evening, after giving them the earned toy, Chloe actually asked if we could do it all again. I count that as a massive win because it tells me I didn’t scar her for life, AND it tells me that she ENJOYED the satisfaction of working for something!
Call me crazy, but I think that is invaluable.
Experiment #6 What’s Christmas for anyways?
Rather than focusing on the length of our Christmas lists, we’ve been focusing on why we have Christmas in the first place.
If we want to talk about lack, the lack in my soul could not have been greater and I was given the greatest gift that ever existed: a Savior.
I didn’t deserve Him, I didn’t earn Him, but WOW I’m thankful for Him. Chances are, you don’t value that Savior if you don’t think you need Him.
And yet - He CAME! Whether we wanted Him or not. He came, because we NEEDED Him!
- THAT is a recipe for a Merry Christmas! The very Merriest Christmas actually.
“Umm…. blog lady, are you saying you didn’t get your poor deprived children anything FUN?!!
I never said that!
I’ve actually found that this experiment has helped my kids think more clearly about what they wanted for Christmas. In the past, their Christmas list would literally NEVER. END. They just keep adding and adding and adding to them every time they open their eyes anywhere like addicted little consumers. … Not so this year. They have identified a few things that they REALLY wanted, and Jonathan and I were HAPPY to get it for them.
What now? Where do your kids need some lack? Where do WE need some lack?
Perhaps it isn’t bread or toothbrushes, but maybe a little desire somewhere would be good for us. Not crazy consumerism desire -but actual “lack” desire.
How would Christmas feel differently if we actually NEEDED the things under our tree?
I’d venture to say that we’d be a lot more excited. And a lot more thankful.
WOW!!! You're *obviously* awesome because you just took the time to read a whole blog about intentionality and thankfulness. Good work, you!
Thanks for coming along on my crazy experiment.
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My husband and I are dairy farmers in SE MN and friends to anyone who is interested.
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