Who Needs Oprah?

Posted by on Nov 20, 2010 | 3 comments

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when people all over the world stop what they’re doing to bear witness to wonderful things.  Glorious things.  Oprah’s Favourite Things, to be exact. 

This year is not only the 25th anniversary of Oprah’s show, it’s also her last season, so the goodies were especially outrageous and fabulous.  By now you know what wonderful, glorious things Oprah loves this year and gave to her audience (whether you like it or not). You also most likely know that Oprah’s favourite things do not fall within the budget of most families.  Well, most of them.  We actually took a 10-day vacation to Jamaica on a plane piloted by John Travolta last year.*

I watch Oprah’s Favourite Things show with equal parts jealousy and envy, especially this time of year when I’m engaged in retail battle.  Ok, I do most of my shopping online, but it’s still hard.  My back gets sore poring over Fishing For Deals and Amazon on my laptop for hours on end. 

Thankfully, my children are still young enough that they don’t yet have their own personal wish lists of coveted treasures.  Sure, they scope out new cars and trucks and trains when we’re out at the store, and will happily tell Santa about them at great length.  The days of pages-long Christmas lists full of hard-to-obtain and/or ridiculously expensive objects they can’t live without, though,  are at least another year away.

Every night when I tuck my children into bed, I spend a few minutes of one-on-one time with each of them.  I sit close, stroking their hair, paying attention to whatever they choose to discuss.  The core of the conversation is one question from me: “what did you like today?” 

This started simply enough a few years ago as a way to both help Jack learn to engage in conversation, and to help my boys remember and look forward to things.  Talking things up is important with toddlers, whether or not autism is involved.  When we were planning our first trip to Disney, we chatted about Mickey for a week beforehand.  We did the same with Santa, the Easter Bunny and moving to Canada.  The more we discussed things, the more they got excited.  And the more they remembered. 

These few moments have become a treasured part of our day, and a way for me to find out things they wouldn’t otherwise tell me.  It’s especially helpful with Jack, now that he’s in school all day and not very forthcoming with details when he gets home in the afternoon.

So every night, I ask the question.  They tell me their favourite things of the day, we talk for a bit, and I kiss them goodnight.  Lennon usually tells me about whatever playground his daddy took him to after they dropped Jack off at school.  I think he likes the closeness more than the question, since his answer is almost verbatim night after night.

Jack likes to tell me what particular food in his lunch or snack he enjoyed that day. Occasionally, if we’ve done something different, he’ll talk about that, but it’s always something about himself or something he’s done.

Last night, he surprised me.

“What did you like today, Jack?”  I asked as usual.

“Lennon read that whole book to me today.  He knew all of the words.  You’re really proud of him.”

I smiled and asked if there was anything else he liked about his day.  There wasn’t. He was happy just being proud of his brother. The empathy, the pride, the joy in his brother’s accomplishment… these are all concepts I might never have expected from Jack.  

There are any number of material goods I would enjoy having.  If I had been in Oprah’s audience yesterday I would have been screaming and fainting in the aisles with all the other crazy people receiving gifts they never dreamed of “needing.”  But in all honesty, I wouldn’t trade a single coveted Favourite Thing for the one treasured thing I already have:  a life of wonderful, glorious unpredictability.

*We did not.

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