There are some kid gifts that parents love, some they loathe, and some that they have love/hate relationships with. These include:
LOVE: Gift certificates. The end.
LOVE/HATE: Blocks, Legos or other items with lots of small pieces. Great toys. Kids love them. They are great for imagination, fine motor skills, so many things. But there are always. pieces. everywhere. And toddlers especially think one of the best things about blocks is dumping them on the floor (and in the case of Mr. Pickle Pumpkin, yelling “CRAAAAASH!”). I am forever picking up blocks. And damn, those suckers hurt when you step on them by accident.
LOATHE: Make-up kits. As a little girl, I would have loved to get one of these. Now that I know parents of little girls (and have my own little girl!) I can see why this is a
street-walker, wall-scrubbing, disaster in the making.
LOVE/HATE: Bathrobes for newborns. Granted, they are ridiculously cute. But they are entirely impractical. Newborns don’t want to lounge around in bathrobes, like mini-Hefners. They want to be cozy and comfy. And as a parent, my first priority is not putting my newly-cleaned, sweet-smelling bambino in a bathrobe. My priority is to get that bambino in a diaper before he/she is no longer clean or sweet smelling.
LOATHE: Gum-ball machines. My sugar-sensitive sister got one of these when she was 8. We still talk about it, 20+ years later. If you’re thinking of getting a gum-ball machine for the children in your life, print out directions for “gum removal: hair,” “gum removal: upholstery” and “gum removal: carpeting” and include them in the package.
#1 – Leaving the house feeling at least a LITTLE put-together in the morning. Usually my hair is wet, my shirt is wrinkled, and I’m sans make-up. I would guess that most folks think I look fine, but it isn’t how I look that irks me, it’s how I feel. I feel like a running-behind, I-guess-this-shirt-is-clean mess most days. Today it was cold, so I used that as an excuse to turn up the heat and the fan in my car. Please raise your hand if you’ve ever attempted to use your car’s heating system as a blow-dryer. (Sheepishly raises hand.) More times than I’d like to admit. Even in the summer.
#2 – Exercising more. This is a no-brainer. In addition to the physical and mental benefits, it would also allow me to catch up on the 175 podcasts that I have not yet listened to. These poor, unheard podcasts cause me to suffer from psychic guilt. A little time on the elliptical –> podcast listening –> a minor item checked off my to-do list every day + the feeling like I am not falling completely behind when it comes to popular culture.
#3 – Putting on make-up. Even typing that makes me cringe. I’m not the made-up type. I regularly leave the house un-showered, wearing outfits that make me turn and run from anyone I recognize in the grocery store, lest they see me and wonder what has happened to my sanity. But a little eyeliner, a little mascara does make me feel a little better – like I made a small effort not to look so tired and frazzled. Instead, I always feel tired and frazzled, like I’m running behind the put-together train shouting, “Wait for me!”
I have one child. A woman I know has three children under the age of four. She always looks perfect. And I’m pretty sure she exercises and is caught up on her podcasts. In order to accomplish these things, I imagine that she either has to (a) ply the kids with caramels, lollipops and TV; (b) lock them all in a small, child-proofed room for 30 minutes every day and allow the sound of the blow dryer to drown out their pleas and screams; or (c) wake up at 4am. Maybe all three. Actually, she’s probably already up at 4am sewing their little matching Halloween costumes, ironing her husband’s shirts and baking mini-souffles for her mommy-and-me group. Me? I’ll sleep as long as my little one will let me, and attempt to remember mascara tomorrow. Baby steps, right?