What came out of my mouth was, “A homemade sock monkey.” When my teenagers asked me what I wanted for the holidays, that’s what I said. I could surely use a Roomba, a vacation, new PJs, or a massage. But really, all I want is a sock monkey. But a cute one, not a brown and red one – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just a simple sock monkey. Made. By. Them.
Here are four reasons why I want Curious George’s cousin as a gift – it’s really more for them than for me, but shhh…don’t tell them that!
1. I want my kids to learn that the best things in life are free.
That’s what my dad always says – hugs, sunshine and fresh air don’t cost anything. My girls need to understand that everyone doesn’t always have money to spare, and they need to experience graciously giving and receiving gifts that may not be store-bought. Sure, a sock monkey might cost a few dollars in random supplies, but it’s still less than anything they can buy, even at their favorite store, 5 Below. When they are no longer kids and are adults off in the ‘real world’ and receive a gift of homemade cookies or chocolates, I want them to truly appreciate it.
When they are rich and famous, then they can get me a Roomba. Until then, they can help me vacuum. Now, they can go on Pinterest for sock monkey inspiration.
2. I want my kids to use their individual talents and tap into their interests to make the world a better place.
Giving gifts that they spend their time on and use their skills for speaks to this idea, and may even inspire them to become entrepreneurs someday. I know my girls like to craft, and have very basic hand-sewing abilities, so a sock monkey is a reasonable request that will hopefully intrigue them to use some knowledge they have while adding skills to their repertoire. They also like to bake, but I know that if I asked for something sweet, that would involve lots of dirty bowls and pans in the sink that I will have to remind them, lots of time, to please wash. And I so don’t want to do that. Thus, the sock monkey request.
When they are rich and famous, then they can book a vacation for me to travel to Tahiti. Until then, they can let me read the travel section of the weekend newspaper in peace. Now, they can find a pair of funky socks and start snipping.
3. I want my kids to learn to be resourceful and be proud of their hard work.
My girls have typical teenager jobs, and I’d rather that they save their money instead of use it to purchase something for me. However, I do want them to understand that, in life in general, they will be expected to give people presents even if their bank accounts are lean. They can stretch their money further by combining a bit of ingenuity with store-bought items. As their mom I get to glow a bit as they hand me the cutest stuffed footwear ever – and see them feel delighted with themselves for actually being able to make one.
When they are rich and famous, then they can get me comfy PJs. Until then, they can help with the laundry. Now they can dig through my sewing box for buttons and thread.
4. I want my kids to argue less and spend more quality time together.
They love each other to pieces, but fight with each other over nonsense. I would love more than anything to see them spend special time together, giggling and working on a project that makes them smile, and for a few minutes actually notargue. If they are working on a common goal, or patterned primate, they will likely fight less, smile more.
When they are rich and famous, then they can get me a gift certificate for a spa weekend. Until then, they can knead my shoulders if I’m having a tough day. (Who are we kidding – it’s usually me rubbing theirback!) For now, they can add ears and a tail to their cutie pie, and find stuffing in a craft closet somewhere.
Wanting a sock monkey may seem like a totally random gift request. But that’s what I asked for, sincerely. Making and gifting a sock monkey can be a character-building experience for kids of all ages. The feeling of getting a sock monkey as a gift from your kids…priceless. They decided to make two – one is pink with a cupcake pattern, and the other is pink and white a fuzzy, and they are just so adorable. The sock monkeys and my kids, that is. I hope you ask for and receive your version of a sock monkey, too.
Randee Bonagura is an elementary school administrator by day, mom and stepmom of 4 girls by night. She reads, writes, crafts and plays clarinet in a local ensemble, and adopts way too many rescue kittens in her spare time. She lives in New York with her husband. Follow her at Just Ask Randee.