The day after every holiday or one of my kids’ birthdays, I find myself not only suffering from a post-holiday/birthday hangover, but also trying to resist the urge to grab a trash bag, fill it to the brim, and throw away a bunch a stuff to make room for the new stuff. It is a dangerous combination which leaves me irritable and exhausted.
But the over-gifting also happens after seeing certain relatives or friends for a random Saturday afternoon visit. We all have these wonderful people in our lives who enjoy giving kids a present just because.
While I like to keep a clean organized home because it makes my days run smoother to be able to find things like socks and my sanity, I am outnumbered by all of you gift-giving addicts, and I can’t keep up.
The candy, plastic toys, glow sticks, and slime kits are in every corner of my house, including the freezer. This is a problem because my gelato takes priority over some random science experiment that needs to stay frozen in order to work — sorry kids, no can do. There have been times when they come home with so much loot after going to a friend’s birthday party you would have thought it was their special day.
I know it is nice to receive gifts. I know it brings the giver pleasure as well. I know it makes kids unbelievably happy, but that happiness is fleeting. I have watched my kids’ happiness turn into overwhelm which then turns into “I am bored with this. What’s next? Gimme something else” enough times to know they don’t need a lot of stuff to make them happy.
We have all been that parent who spends a lot of dollars and a lot of hours buying and assembling toys, only to have our little lovies play with the cardboard box for hours in between popping bubble wrap. I’m thinking it’s way more fun to pound on plastic bubbles and walk around with a box on your head than it is to play with that one thing they’ve wanted for their whole, entire life — just a guess though.
Constantly greeting kids with, “Look at what I brought you today,” makes them think they are entitled to get a present just because they are in front of you. They keep getting more and more things for no reason at all, and they get spoiled to death on a holiday or their birthday as well. It causes some of the magic to wear off.
I am finding the more shit my kids get, the more the specialness of receiving a gift is diluted, and every time they see certain people, they will wonder what they are going to get out of it (usually a few bucks, some candy, a bag of balloons, and a musical toy thrown on top). They might even start to think you suck if you stop putting a gift in their sticky little mitts during every visit. So don’t set that precedent. The gift is that you care enough to show up, show interest, and spend time with them. Really.
I know I may sound like an ungrateful asshole here, but I need to say something without mincing any words: Please stop giving my kids so much stuff.
They do not need it. They know you love them. I know you love them. I love you for loving them and am thankful you are in their life, but there are so many other ways to show them love which don’t involve stopping at the store before you see them. Just because they want something, or you think they might like the latest Lego set, doesn’t mean they have to have it — especially if they drop a hint they would really like that poop emoji bean bag. I know they want it, you know they want it, and I am telling you, if that comes into my house, I am going to sneak it back into your car and secretly wish a giant overstuffed poop haunts your dreams.
Please come and visit them. Please take them to the park. Please tell them you love them, but please, OH MY GOD PLEASE, stop giving them something just because you are going to see them. I am begging you. If you really want to spend money on them, get a gym membership and then grab some coffee before heading over so you will be in tip-top shape when they want you to push them on the swings or roll down the hill with them.
Maybe invest in some ginkgo biloba, so your memory will be sharp when they start asking you a zillion questions about the “What would happen if all the water got sucked out of the earth?” and “What would you do if you had to poop, sneeze, cough, burp, and fart all at the same time while standing in line at the grocery store?” — because they will ask you. Partly because they won’t have a mouth full of candy and a fresh new gadget to keep them busy, but also because it’s their way of bonding with people they love. And they will remember it more than a stuffed animal or a bag of M&M’s.
I know for a time I am going to look like a big nasty witch who doesn’t want anyone to have any fun, but everyone will get over it. We just want you and your undivided attention, so let yourself off the hook. Save your precious time and money. We have enough.
But if you do feel the urge to buy somebody something, mama could always use a latte with double whip and an hour in her room with a book the next time you stop by — just saying.