Presents or Presence – my 4.5 year old’s perspective

Dear Alicia,

It’s been a couple of months already since you have started this habit of asking mummy to buy this and that and whatever you fancy when we’re out.

My stock reply to you is always, “mummy has no money” which you then sometimes question. I would proceed to tell you that mummy is not working and so mummy has no money to buy all those fanciful things and toys. You’d keep quiet or whine a little but you’d always move on.

After pondering about your behaviour for these few weeks, it occurred to me that you might secretly wish that mummy should go back to work so that mummy would have money to buy you the things that you want. I was very afraid to pop the question to you because I wasn’t confident that I mean more to you than your wants.

What if, just what if, you said that you don’t want me at home with you anymore? That would certainly break my heart.

Nevertheless, I finally decided that I needed to find out your thoughts so I sat you down on the sofa and asked, “Alicia, do you want mummy to go back to work?”

You stare at me, bewildered, and ask, “Why do you ask that?”

I wonder to myself if you’re really only 4.5 years old, asking me that question, but I reply, “If mummy goes back to work, then mummy would have money to buy you the things you want. Do you want that?”

You think for awhile, with your eyes lit up. My heart starts to sink. You exclaim, “If you go back to work mummy, then you have money to buy me a lot of presents!”

My heart sinks further. So at the end of the day, I mean less to you than those toys. Right.

Just when I thought I needed to reach for the tissue, you speak quietly, “But mummy, if you go to work, you will not be home with me.”

A wave of relief swept over me. I should never have doubted you. I ask, “So how? Do you want mummy to go back to work?”

Your verdict came quickly, “No. I want you to be at home with me.”

Ah, you see, I needed that tissue after all. 🙂

And that was that. I should never have doubted that you valued my presence more than presents. Now that I’ve got the answer that I so hoped for, I want to thank you for reassuring me of my position in your life and reaffirming that my decision to stay home for you and your brother is right. I may not be able to shower you with lavish gifts as your friends’ parents do, but mummy will always try to make sure you receive all the love and attention that you so deserve, now and always.



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6 Responses to Presents or Presence – my 4.5 year old’s perspective

  1. Jasz says:

    So true! Your children need your presence more than your presents!

  2. San says:

    Wow! I love Alicia’s reply. What a thoughtful lil girl!
    San recently posted…Does raising a child take a village?My Profile

  3. Adora says:

    Awww what a lovely reply. Poppy asked me the same thing too “You go back to work and earn lots of money and ah Ma can take care of me”. Then she re-thought it through and said “Never mind, you stay home an do crafts with me” haha.
    Adora recently posted…Five on Friday: Things Non-Parents Wouldn’t UnderstandMy Profile

  4. sweet day says:

    Guess i couldn‘t ask the same question coz i have started to work.

  5. Ioyces says:

    aww…this made me tear!!! :_) thanks for sharing Angeline!

    • simplymommie says:

      Thanks Chin Ting! Do share the read with yr friends 🙂 Most pp think tt kids prefer presents to presence but really, the best present we can give to children is our time.

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