Monday, October 23, 2006

What Birthdays are REALLY For

Okay, before I begin I want to express that should my wonderful friend Jen read this, that she should not take offense and rather should smile at what I'm going to write about.

I went to Jen's daughter's 1st Birthday party on Saturday. Kids' birthdays are fun and cute, but there is a lot of pressure put on the adults that are invited. What type of pressure could possibly be bestowed upon the adults at a one-year-old's birthday party? Well, the gift of course! There is a lot of anxiety for the adult picking out the present, buying the present, and wrapping the present. It's awful when your present is being opened and the adults and older children in the room make the customary comment of "Oh, that's cute". Although polite, you know it wasn't that impressive and you have now failed as a gift giver in the eyes of the older people in the room. You don't want to be the person who shows up with "The Lame Gift" and have the child look at the present and make a sour face, or worse, not pay attention to it at all. That simply shows that you decided to quickly run in to toys r us and pick up a coloring book with crayons for a kid that can't even clutch a crayon yet, let alone make any comprehendible image on the paper. You haven't stimulated the child. Mind you, the uncomprehendible images are always fun to put on your refrigerator. They're cute and decorative.

When I went shopping for Addisen's birthday present, I was completely stressed. I didn't want to be the person who picked the "wrong" gift. Jen's kids are smart, but I didn't think I should be buying the Leap Frog Globe that tells the history of the geography of the piece of land the child has picked out on this big blue and green ball. Although I wanted to and thought the one-year-old would surprise us all with her knowledge of Denmark, I figured she has plenty of time for schooling later. I'm so used to looking at toys that are for ages 4 and up. I was really struggling. Also, what if someone was of the same mind set as me and bought the same gift? Dammit! Look harder, Kathy! DON'T BLOW THIS!!! I finally came across a toy section specifically for very young children. I found a barn yard toy that had animals that would make noises. Fabulous. It's cute, it makes noises, and it's stimulating. Great, I'll get it. Addisen's reaction to her birthday present? Fantastic. Not only did she look at it, but she kept looking at it and reaching for the toys that were protected behind the plastic window. Score.

I have to pat myself on the back for that. I will also give myself kudos for Lauren's first birthday. Since her birthday is towards the end of Spring, I decided to get her a bathing suite, hat, sandals, and a little blow up swimming pool. Although, she didn't fully grasp the coolness of her present at the moment it was opened for her, the adults in the room did. And after all, it's about impressing them, too. I did get a phone call from Jen sometime later when the weather was nice, that Lauren had been swimming in her pool and loved it. Score, again. Oh, don't think that I'm shallow for writing this. We all know these pressures exist but no one wants to talk about it. The fun thing is when the kids get a little older and you buy them a present, they will actually squeal with excitement when you get the right gift for them. At that point, it doesn't matter what the adults think. As long as that child has a smile from ear to ear because you took the time to think about what they would love to play with even if it is for just 15 minutes and never to be seen again, you've done a good job.

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