In the past month I had two experiences in which, after great resistance, I held out from spoiling Colin. Both resulted in a neat opportunity for him to grow.
The first was chipping away at the build up of ice on the driveway. I arrived home after school first that afternoon and began to try to dig out some of the ice. When Colin got off the school bus, he dropped his bag on the step and immediately picked up a shovel to help. The work was not easy. We were using a repetitive up-and-down motion with garden spades in an attempt to crack large chunks of ice off in order to clear them. Colin never spoke a single word of complaint; but three times I caught myself about to tell him to "go on inside, I can finish up." Part of me wanted to spare him the difficult work. Part of me didn't want to steal from his media time. But each time I swallowed my words, knowing that he would benefit not only from the physically demanding chore, but also from seeing a job through right to the finish. I was right. In the end, when we cleared the last chunk, the feeling of satisfaction in myself was exhilarating, and I can only assume Colin also felt that sense of accomplishment.
The second opportunity happened on a shopping trip. Colin needed a new soccer ball, new cleats, and new school shoes, so we headed out of town to a sports outlet store. As we shopped, I felt the urge just to buy all the items for Colin. He's a good kid, hardworking, helps out around the house, and I wanted to spoil him a little. Instead, I fought the urge. I told him that I would pay for a maximum amount for each item, and if he wanted something more expensive he would have to kick in the rest. I then watched as he carefully considered how much money he has, the different items offered, and compared the cost of each. To see him weigh all these options and come to sensible decisions (including one item of indulgence he had been wanting for a long time) made this mama's heart sing.
It's tough to hold out on these types of things, but the long-term benefits will be worth it.