As I was rushing around getting dinner ready one evening I asked Miss M (5 1/2 years old) if she could help set the table. When I arrived at the table I realized she'd given us all delicate bone china tea cups that one of her grandmothers had handed down to our family. She saw me looking at them and exclaimed, "Aren't they beautiful? Mine has a rose on it!"
I hesitated for a moment, then agreed with her, filled them up with water, and we dug into our tacos. Sure, they got sticky taco sauce and smudgy fingerprints on them but with a quick wash up afterwards and they were good as new.
Using the nice things we own is an attitude I'm constantly working on. I remember Oprah had a show about using the "good stuff" and she encouraged her viewers to light the expensive candles, dry themselves off with the plush guest towels and use the fancy dishes, and it struck a chord with me. Why are we saving the beautiful things we are lucky enough to have? If someone has given them to us as a gift, I'm sure they didn't do so in the hopes they'd sit unused and gathering dust.
If we're saving them for our children or our grandchildren after we're gone, we are raising them with this "don't touch" attitude. They will probably leave them in a box for future generations to come, and the nice things will eventually have little to no meaning to our descendants.
When Miss M turned four she had a fancy garden tea party with her friends. A group of little girls ages 3-5 gathered around our table with lovely bone china tea cups and saucers and were the perfect little party guests. Narry a cup was broken and they were thrilled to sip on their pink lemonade "tea" in the fancy cups.
Seeing that display of respect and the extra enjoyment gained from using those lovely things was the encouragement I needed to move those cups to a shelf my daughter could reach for whenever she wants to have a glass of water from something pretty.
She is a girl who thinks she is worthy of nice things, and I should take a page from her book. Enjoy the lovely things now, and raise children who believe they deserve the "good stuff," like tea cups on taco night.
How about you? Do you let your children use the "good stuff" or do you keep it tucked away?