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Shiny-object syndrome.

Am I spoiling my child? Is there a difference between being spoiled and being a spoiled brat? God, I hope so.
“Alexa, add camera drone to Christmas List.”
Liam and I are going through our Tuesday morning routine of eating breakfast at the kitchen counter when he has this epiphany of needing a camera drone.
“Why do you want a camera drone?” I ask.
He looks over at the pantry. “To watch the candy drawer while I’m at school and make sure you don’t take any of my candy. Duh.” as if that reasoning is iron-clad and totally worth the expense of a camera drone.
He will not be getting a camera drone for Christmas, on account that he got a drone last Christmas and the Christmas before. The first one he broke within two weeks, and I blamed it on poor craftsmanship from FAO Schwartz. The second one is sitting on his dresser collecting dust and has been since the start of the year. It’s right next to his ukulele he’s never learned to play, which sits right next to a box of Legos he never opened.
Am I spoiling him? It’s something I keep my eye on. He hasn’t crossed over into being a spoiled brat, but I certainly overindulge him from time to time. This past spring break, we spent the week in London and Amsterdam. I took him on the London Eye and to see Big Ben. I arranged a train ride to Amsterdam and took him to see the Holland tulip farms, an event that happens only 6 weeks a year. Where acres and acres of what is normally green farmland transform into rows of color, like stacked crayons across the land. 
As an avid plant lover, he was thrilled. He was appreciative and immersed. Watching him experience the tulip farms in all their glory was like watching a lifelong memory being tattooed on his brain.
Between all the flowers and booking a hotel that featured endless jars of candy in the lobby and not one but two hotel cats that lived on the premises and were always available for pets, I thought I built enough good grace to do something not-so-fun for kids.
So I took him to the Anne Frank house. For the most part, he did good. He didn’t complain, but the weight of the museum had zero impact on him. To be fair, he is only 8. I didn’t expect him to have any profound thoughts on the situation. But near the end of the tour, he took a piece of candy from his pocket, likely swiped from the hotel lobby just hours before, and asked if he could eat it. It was 9 am. We hadn’t had breakfast yet. And we’re in the Anne Frank house, for crying out loud! 
‘Not right now,’ I say, to which he hangs his head and starts to mope. His feet start to drag as if he were relying on that piece of candy to carry him to his next meal. And the contrast of standing in the Anne Frank house with a child complaining about candy was enough to bring out the worst in me. 
If you were a patron and happened to look over at me and my son, it’d look like a mother whispering something in her son’s ear, being respectful of their surroundings. But it was so much more. It was the movements, the words, and the tone a mother reserves for her most impactful moments. Where my movements become almost robotic as I descend into a squat position, my mouth perfectly aligned to his ear. Close enough so no one, not even God himself, will hear what I’m about to say. I speak through clenched teeth, yet every single word is crystal clear. 
And I say:
We are standing in a house where a girl wasn’t allowed to look out her window for years. 
She couldn’t go see a movie.
She couldn’t sit in her garden.
She couldn’t use the bathroom during the day.
She couldn’t walk around the little space she had.
She died when she was 16. That’s only twice your age.
If you continue to mope about not being able to eat a piece of candy, I am going to lose my shit on you.
Not my proudest moment. But he stopped moping. He apologized. If he didn’t understand the weight of what Anne Frank went through before, he probably felt like he could connect with her now. I believe that moment is the difference between him being spoiled and him being a spoiled brat.
After our travel home and a much-needed return to school, he came home with a paper in his folder that said ‘My Favorite Part of Spring Break’ at the top. Each child in the class was tasked to draw a picture of what they loved about their spring break. Part of me was expecting to see a stick figure running through rows of tulips. A smaller part of me feared seeing a stick figure apologizing to his mother in the Anne Frank house. But it was none of those things. It was a picture of a stick figure blowing on a trumpet because on Easter day, my Uncle gave him his childhood trumpet. An old trumpet that had probably not been cleaned for decades. That Easter Sunday, my son was obsessed with the trumpet, as well as the Monday and Tuesday that followed, which is when he was tasked to draw his favorite part of spring break. Maybe the tulip farm wasn’t a lasting memory. But neither was the trumpet. A mere week later, it sits next to the dusty drone, the quiet ukulele, and the unopened Lego box.

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