When You Go the Extra Mile, You Make Someone Smile

By Sarah Aterrado - December 01, 2018

I have never really figured out parenthood, especially when I'm doing it alone. As much as it flatters me every time I get a pat on the back for doing twice the parenting work without losing my sanity, what makes my heart flutter is when someone says my son, Rhett, is a well-mannered and grateful boy. I'm not exactly sure how I did that because to tell you honestly, motherhood is not all that pretty. I have those bad mom moments too.

You see, I am guilty of making my son disappointed on many occasions.

I remember him asking me for a motorized car, a game console, a tablet, and whatever toy that makes it to the popular list. I remember the sad look on his face when I denied him all of it. He may seem to have mastered the art of sucking it up whenever I tell him I could not buy the toy he wanted, but he has his moments of hating me for sure. And even though he never had a meltdown at the toy store (thank heavens!), there were times when I find myself on the verge of giving in to appease that upset little heart because all I ever wanted to do is to make him happy.

But as much as I want to give him the world, I won't. Partly because of financial reasons and mostly because of my choice. More than the financial strain, guilt, fear, and physical exhaustion that I deal with every day as a single parent, one thing that I am most challenged to do is raising a non-materialistic child in this material world.

Yes, sometimes I do feel that giving my son everything he wants is a great way of showing my love, but from the way I was raised by my parents, I knew there's more to that. Maybe he won't understand and appreciate the gestures I do today but I'm sure he'll thank me for this later.

So how do I make my child happy?

Make Time
I gave up corporate life for a home-based job so I can be more hands on with Rhett even when it means not having a social life anymore. Working 8 hours with a cat as the only companion is no easy feat, especially for someone who's used to having people around to work with and talk to. Hindi lang nakakapanis ng laway ang mag-isa araw-araw, medyo nakakabaliw din. But I would not have it any other way.
Although there are really times when work gets the best of me, I make sure that I still get to spend even a few minutes of quality time in a day with him.

Invest in Memories
They say it's the simple joys that make the meaningful memories.

A few months ago, when I asked him what he wants for his 9th birthday, all he wanted was to go to Altitude Trampoline Park. Of course, I breathed a sigh of relief not only because I can get away with spending a hefty amount for a party that will only end up with so much leftover food alongside having a giant pile of dirty dishes, but because it shows that I'm on the right track in raising a non-materialistic kid.

Among all the huge birthday parties I've thrown for him previously, this simple celebration had him smile the widest.

Another way to invest the best memories is to travel together.

When Rhett expressed his desire to go to Universal Studios, I knew I had to do something about it. So for a few months, I worked extra hours and accepted extra projects, fought the urge to buy milk tea, declined Friday night invitations, and pretended online shopping does not exist.

We flew to Singapore and he certainly had the time of his life. The trip happened five months ago and until now, he talks about it nonstop to his friends.

I've been taking him to places because I want to invest in memories. I believe experiences and relationships lead to happiness, not the material things we give.

Traveling since 5.
If happiness is, indeed, the end goal here, then the expensive things we give that may be broken, thrown away, or unused will later on be deemed insignificant. Not that I'm saying that we should absolutely not buy our kids anything. What I'm trying to say is, our kids would not remember how expensive the Lego set we bought them, but they're going to remember we built it with them.

Because at the end of the day, it's always the memorable experience that made our children smile and the time they spent with the people they love matter most.
We built and flew this kite together.
Give Only the Best
When I say I give him only the best, I don't mean expensive stuff. While it's true that buying the latest gadget may give him a higher level of excitement than handing him a screw driver to help him fix his bike, that excitement will eventually fade, and sooner or later forgotten.

When I say I want to give him the best, it means I want him to grow up to be the best person that he is. Aside from molding him to become better socially, emotionally, and spiritually, I teach him the little things that seem irrelevant but would actually be useful later on in his life, and of course, these would strengthen our relationship too, such as:

1. Treating a wound
I let him out to play with other children and sometimes, he goes home with a skinned knee. And since it's not all the time that I'll be around to kiss the boo-boo away, I taught him how to treat his wounds properly.

2. Becoming a responsible pet owner
I wouldn't exactly give myself the credit, but having a pet taught him about responsibility and respect even to the smallest creatures.
Rhett has this fondness for animals.
3. Fixing broken toys
Whenever he breaks his toys, I never buy a new one, even if it happens to be his favorite. However, I bought a small set of screw drivers and I teach him how to fix his toys. Although, I have to say, I'm not sure if it was a good idea because he has been dismantling his toys with the intention of trying to put them back together (it fails most of the time haha). But at least, I can see that tinkering and fixing fosters independence and creative problem-solving. And I think that is way better than seeing him idly sitting and having his eyes fixed on the screen.

4. Preparing a meal
Of course, I'm not talking about mama's lutong-bahay kind of dinner. But I include him in my meal preparations. He already knows how to cook rice and fry hotdogs. Sooner or later, he'll be able to cook healthy simple meals (with adult supervision, of course!)

5. Stressing the importance of health and hygiene
Our kids are never too young to begin learning about health and hygiene. And I always remind him about the importance of being clean all the time. I am so glad he has already developed this habit of washing his hands before meal and brushing his teeth every after meal—which is quite an achievement for me because I went through a frustrating period in making him brush his teeth.

I know there are a lot of parents who have the same struggle. So if you're having a hard time encouraging your children to brush their teeth, this video might help:

Just like how the Hapee Kiddie Tooth Tales show that brush time can be a happy time, the simple things we do together with our children (even the most mundane tasks) can be turned a fun and happy time too!

I have my ways of making my child happy but these may be considered unconventional by most. My goal is long term happiness rather than initial moments, that's why I always choose to go the extra mile. I may not be a perfect parent. I have my "bad mom" moments too. I am guilty of making my son disappointed on many occasions.

But seeing my son flash me that sweet smile randomly, hearing him say "I love you" many times in a day, allowing me to kiss him in public (he's 9 and he's not embarrassed about it), and most of all, knowing how he is always grateful for the little that he had, I guess, I'm doing it right because you know what they say, a grateful child is a happy child.

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  1. Swerte ni rheet. God bless maam sarah!

    1. Ako maswerte sa kanya. Ang bait ng anak ko, di ko alam kanino nagmana. Haha

  2. Ganyan talaga kapag magulang na, gagawin natin ang lahat mapasaya lang ang mga anak natin. Hindi man natin lahat nabibigay sa kanila basta maayos silang napalaki at hindi lumaking spoiled brat.

    1. True. Ang goal talaga dito ay yung mapalaki sila ng tama. :)

  3. This is sweet! You both are lucky you have each other. :)

  4. The sad reality is parents are really busy with work that they tend to give material things para pambawi. Base in my experience being a child of workaholic parents, quality time with kids is really important than gifts. That's why me, I make sure that I always give time for my children even if I'm already very tired from work. After all they're my stress relievers.

    1. That's why it's important to define your non-negotiables. Para di natin macompromise ang time for children. Although I admit, sobrang busy talaga sa work. Kaya talagang bumabawi ako but not through things (kasi wala din naman akong pera hahaha).