Being a parent is all about raising. Raising children into fine young adults. Raising your expectations of what a fine young adult is. And it’s hair-raising too. There’s the stresses associated with the regulatory mile-stones that need to be reached. There’s the lack of sleep. There’s the stress of whether they’re eating the right foods. There’s the stress of too many play dates and not enough play dates. There’s the stress of too many extra-mural activities or not enough extra-mural activities. Raising Emma has seen my stress levels reach an all-time high, but nothing compares to when it’s present purchasing time for little people.
I’m big on the little things in life and so when buying gifts for my friends I always try and give something that I’d like to receive. If the gift ticks all my boxes then I’m fairly confident it’s tickle my friend’s fancy too. HOWEVER buying something for a toddler, tween or teen causes me major stress. I break out in a rash and suffer severe pre- and post- purchase disonance. I have no idea what kids love. I know what Emma likes, and even that is sometimes a hit and miss, or I’ll buy something that I like, which I can then force upon her, like the Cabbage Patch Kid.
Walking down the aisles of Toys R Us or Reggies I feel like a dead man walking, knowing this gift could possibly make or break a friendship. It could also be the death of my reputation. On other occasions I feel like I’m at a shelter for homeless animals and ALL the toys are calling out ‘pick me, pick me’. Either way, neither feeling makes for a fun shopping expedition and I find myself reaching into my bag for a valium or a tic-tac. From Zoobles to Lalaloopsy dolls, building blocks and prams, Smurfy things, Ben 10 things and Chatimals, the list goes on.
There’s things that speak and squeak, some go vroom and some do nothing. Some bounce, some fly, some you can swim with, others aren’t allowed near water. There’s thing you can build and throw. There’s things that build themselves. There’s watches that you can play games on and books that read for you. There’s computers and laptops, Wii’s and Xboxes.
There’s ugly dolls and scary looking dolls. And may I add not many black dolls. There’s arts and crafts, puzzles and boardgames. There’s dress up clothes and outdoor things.
There’s dolls that look pretty but do absolutely nothing. There’s babies that burp and wee. There’s prams to push the baby around in and cots to put them to sleep.
I’ve resorted to asking moms for suggestions, but that doesn’t always help either. Like recently, when I asked my sister in law what my soon-to-be six year old niece is into these days. I would never in a million years have expected the response I got. Bearded dragons, snakes and fish. WTF!!!! This is a little girl that a year ago wanted the latest Barbie. On another occasion I asked a mommy what I can get her daughter for her birthday. Again the answer floored me – dragons and dinosaurs. Coincidentally she’s also turning six. Is there something going on with six year old girls that I don’t know about? Did I miss the memo of what’s hot and what’s not?
Needless to say I am in a cold sweat as I write this. We have a party tomorrow (two actually), two the following weekend and another one the next. Oh, and for good measure, a baby shower. All I can say is I look forward to the birthday where it’s acceptable to give a gift voucher.