A week or so before Christmas, the Garçon started campaigning for an iPod Touch. At some point weeks before that, he had been dropping a few subtle hints that he'd really needed an iPhone (hint = "I need an iPhone please!") but we put the kibosh on that pretty quickly. I mean, what 12-year-old NEEDS a smart phone, especially when he already has access to iPads (in both parents' houses), computers and his own Playstation PSP. Oh, wait, and I think there's a Wii at his mom's, too. Point is, this is not a kid who is deprived of great technology. We have been thinking of getting him a basic cell phone now that he's getting older and starting to become more independent in stages, but I wouldn't trust any child that age -- even a good one like ours -- not to lose or break a first phone (or drop it in a toilet or leave it in a pocket while swimming at the beach -- my nephew did that last one once), so why spend all that money?
I'll be honest: I was not a big supporter of him having an iPod Touch, either. We actually have a first-generation iPod Touch here at the house, that George had already loaded with some games and some music that the Garçon likes. True, it's pretty much on its last legs and the button to turn it off doesn't work more than half the time, but otherwise it's perfectly fine for what a 12-year-old needs. But he started in with the "EVERYBODY I know has either a smartphone or an iPod Touch!" only that argument wasn't swaying us much, either. Especially after Georges asked around with some of the other parents and discovered that they do not ALL have such sophisticated gadgetry.
Then, the boy switched tactics, and said that if he couldn't have one for Christmas, what about for his next birthday -- which is in September? He seemed to recognize the fact that this is a pricey thing to ask for, and he even offered to contribute some of his own savings towards buying one, when the time comes. We still wouldn't say yes, although we did say we'd discuss it; however, the boy would definitely not be getting one for Christmas. To his credit, he took this news without any pouting or bad attitude. I mean, it's not like our response was: "You'll shoot your eye out!"
I figured the matter was closed. Or at least suspended for a few months.
Until Georges texted me from his cross-town bus the other morning, to tell me he'd found a good price on a reconditioned iPod Touch 5 via the Apple store, that he'd decided to go ahead and get it, and it would be arriving on Wednesday in my name (since I'd be the one signing for it with UPS). Well, again, I still wasn't convinced this was a good idea, but in the end I trust Georges to make good decisions. He did intend to have his son contribute a pretty fair amount to it, which I think is a smart move as the boy will value it more if he's had to pay for part of it himself. And then we got another contribution offer from the Garçon's godfather (who is Georges' nephew) as a belated Christmas gift. So that kind of settled it. Nothing else to be done but wait for the weekend to give it to him.
Georges spent a couple of nights this week getting the iPod Touch set up with music, favorite games, the contact info of all the important people in his son's life, etc. I wrapped it back up in its official box, then back in the box it shipped in, then wrapped THAT up in a much bigger box filled with plastic bags to take up the excess space, then covered it in gold wrapping paper. We decided that today, when Georges was picking his son up at tennis lessons, he would tell a little white lie and say that we decided that yes, he can have an iPod Touch for his next birthday, along with a financial contribution from him, from us and from his parrain, but he'll have to wait for the birthday to get it. The Garçon was very happy with this arrangement... having no clue there was a surprise awaiting him at home.
So, he came home, we chatted for a few minutes with him. He showed us that he has acquired a ukelele and he's already learned to play 4 or 5 chords! (This was a surprise to us, but he already takes piano lessons so why not learn another instrument if he wants to?) Then I stepped out of the room for a minute, saying, "Hey, while you two were out, there was a delivery that came." And I brought in the cadeau.
Right off the bat, the boy was guessing who it might be from but we said he'd have to open it to figure that out. I started videotaping because I wanted to capture the look on his face when he realized what was inside the box. And OH how I wish I could post that video here -- but I can't -- because the look of sheer joy and wonderment on his face! He just couldn't believe we had pulled one over on him and he had the big gift he'd been dreaming of.
He barely finished opening it and taking everything out of the official little white box, when he was across the room and hugging his Papa. His eyes were shining with happiness. Then he came and hugged me, too; I kissed him and told him he was a good boy and he deserved it. Because, you know, he is and he does. Then he looked his gadget some more, checking out what was already loaded on it. And then he got up again and gave his father an even bigger, longer hug, and said, "Merci. Merci beaucoup." There could not have been a happier child in all of Paris this afternoon. To add to the fun, we took him right out to the Apple store near Opéra so he could choose his own protective case and to get the protective film for the screen. As we walked into Apple, he said, "THIS is heaven for me."
I guess it's not about the money or about worrying whether he's fully ready for the responsibility of owning such a "toy"; for one thing, he already knows he is NOT to take it to school with him because (a) he needs to be concentrating on his schoolwork, not thinking about playing games, and (b) we don't want to tempt some other students to try and steal it, because you never know. He's got to learn responsibility in stages, but we have to be willing to give him things to be responsible FOR, or he'll never learn it.
No, in this case it's about how much fun it was for US, creating such a big surprise for our kid, who really is a very good kid in all kinds of ways, and then watching the joy radiating out of him all afternoon because of it. I suspect that he knows this is a pretty big deal, that we are trusting him to take good care of it, that he's old enough now for more responsibility, and it makes him feel good about himself as well as happy about the gift itself.
So, while I can't show you how joy-filled our Garçon was, just take any child you know and love, and think about the most excited THEY have ever been over receiving that one special, coveted gift for a birthday or a holiday, and remember the joy YOU felt, just watching them experience that moment of pure joy.
Life doesn't get much better than that. Dang, I love that kid.