Ooshies. The latest hysteria inducing trend in the world of Year 2 boys. Preceded by Bey Blades. Preceded by Pokemon cards. You get it. Some of these fads arrive faster than my most recent kilo on the scales! But unlike my unwanted kilos that stick around, some of these trends are as fast to leave as they were to arrive.
Enter the Ooshie.
I'm one of 'those' mamas who prefers her children to have age appropriate toys. Thus, there was only one new pack of Ooshies I was happy for him to spend his money on today. So, my Mr 7 decided he'd take his chance on a $4 'blind bag' and see which ooshie (have I mentioned it's a fancy name for a pencil topper?!) he got. Maybe it would be one that we would both be happy with.
There was cheering. High fives. I believe the phrase "I'm the luckiest boy ever!" was used when he discovered that his $4 gamble paid off with a limited edition gold ooshie that is rarer than rare to find in one of these blind bags.
There has been much excitement in our house this afternoon over this little piece of manufactured rubber. Small, inexpensive and trivial to an adult. But worth more than gold (literally) if you're seven.
Enter the ethical dilemma.
"Can I take it to school, Mum?"
Nope. Not a chance. You'll lose it. (Like one of your others last week.) Someone will steal it. You'll drop it and not realise.
Then there'll be tears and heartbreak. And sorrow. And saddness. And your innocence might fade. Just a little. Or maybe a lot.
Frankly my darling, I just don't want to see you hurt.
It's a situation all too familar. Where we know all the things that can go wrong so we protect our precious children. We want so badly to have them avoid pain and hardship that we minimise every risk in their wonderful world.
We don't let them take their joy to school to share with their friends. It might get lost. We don't let them hang upside down on the monkey bars. They might get hurt. We don't let them join in a game with big kids or we do whatever we know to protect their little heads and hearts.
But what if all this risk minimisation is about us? Not them?
What if it's actually kind to allow a child to experience age appropriate heartache?
A few weeks ago my daughter was given a plastic bracelet from her teacher. She loved it. As in, LOVED it. But, after school, in the process of walking up to be collected she dropped it down a drain. When she saw me, the saddness was too much and she cried. Oh, how she cried. My husband walked back with her to try to get it out. (Drain locked shut.) And every fibre in my being (I kid you not) wanted to swoop in like Wonderwoman, save the day, dry my daughters tears and go to her amazing teacher and ask for a replacement.
I sat her on my lap and held her while she sobbed and sobbed over the loss of something that meant alot to her. And....she learned that life goes on. And that we can lose things. And that it can be sad. Really, really sad. But there are still people who love you. And you can wipe your tears and smile again. She learned that saddness comes but saddness also goes.
So, when the instinct came today to protect my little man from potential saddness, I resisted the urge to say "no" to taking that Ooshie to school. I told him I didn't think it was a good idea. I outlined all the risks. But at the end of the day, he needs to learn to make choices, rather than have me there too stop the chance of tears.
It might come home, it might not.
I hope for his sake it does.
But more than that, I hope that if there's a chance for him to develop strength and resilience and courage, it won't be me that stands in the way of him learning to cope with life's inevitable ups and downs.
Building blocks of strength need to be put into our children one by one. It takes some big deep breaths not to do a Wonderwoman (or Superman!) and save the day, but sometimes these treasures do better to learn to become superheroes than to be rescued by them.