Pajama Top and No Bottoms (Or How Not To Teach Gratitude)

Today is Java Jam at my daughter’s elementary school. Java Jam required saving up the “Cougar Cash” incentive rewards the students receive There will be hot chocolate, Christmas crafts, dancing, but most importantly, pajamas. Java Jam is Pajama Day writ large. And if you’ve parented a child through elementary school, you know Pajama Day is one of the best days of the year.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Pajama Day. When my older girls were in elementary school, I remember digging around to find matching pajama tops and bottoms and making sure they were clean. I also come to Pajama Day from the perspective of a teacher who works at a school with kids who are the ones who wouldn’t necessarily have cute, matching pajamas suitable for school. Many kids sleep in old tee shirts, sweats, or any sort of hand-me-down. For those kids, Pajama Day isn’t necessarily something to look forward to.

Fast forward to my current elementary student who last night was quite distressed that the adorable Christmas pajama gown she would be wearing would have to be accompanied by just a pair of leggings to keep her legs warm. What? I didn’t have matching pajama pants for her? It was going to be the worst Pajama Day ever.

What followed her expression of what I considered to be a level of outrage that didn’t fit the problem was not my finest mothering moment. I pulled the pajama equivalent of the “starving kids in China” phrase used in the 70s about appreciating the food you had to eat. I launched into a spiel about the students at her school who wouldn’t even have pajamas to wear, those that would love to have the cute gown she was going to wear, etc., etc.

Leaving out the gory details, let’s just say she had lots of tears, I had lots of remorse and we had to put ourselves back together again. Now, I think she actually did get the message, but I didn’t deliver it well. Guilting someone into appreciation is not what I would recommend.

That being said, what are your “leggings?” What is that something you want that causes you to have a difficult time appreciating what you have? What do you need a gentle reminder on that makes you realize how much better you have it than others?

So in this season of giving, focus on the cute pajama gown you have, not the pajama pants you don’t. And find a better way than guilt to help others appreciate their slippers, stocking hat or any other festive items that make Christmas warm and fuzzy.