I'm not always sure how I feel when people come over to my house and laugh at something I hadn't realized was funny. A prime example of this is the collection of knick-knacks my mother has given to me through the years that include my kids' names. I'm not much of knick-knack person, but when your mom gives you something like...I don't know...a trio of engraved gnomes... you tend to keep it.
My mom's desire to personalize all objects stems back to her own childhood. Growing up with six children in a tiny two-bedroom home on Washtenaw, everything was communal. Towels, beds, even undergarments knew many owners. To have something with her name on it that belonged only to her....it must have been a wonderous concept. So as a retired nurse on a fixed income, she sets about this earth looking for personalized pieces to give to her grandchildren. If she finds things in threes, she quickly writes each of the boys names on them. I have about 50 pesonalized Christmas ornaments my mom has delivered. When friends come over around the holidays, they laugh at my tree: Wow...you must really like your kids.
I suppose now that it has been pointed out to me, I should find the humor in my Dan/Jack/Joe knick-knacks. But for me, it's always been a little sad as it represents my mom's own unfulfilled dreams as a child to have something exclusively hers. Perhaps I am meant to take a step back and stop insisting that everything is to be shared between my three boys. To date, I have held joint birthday parties and insisted that if people were to bring gifts, they bring one present to be assigned to all. Maybe I ought to start encouraging outright ownership and understand a child's desire to hold dear one special toy. It would go against my nature as a mother, but important lessons sometimes come in the form of three silly green frogs.