When Frick was born, initially I wanted to give him everything. Because I was delirious from the physical trauma and lack of sleep. About a year later when the high wore off and he began developing a will of his own I began to comprehend that I was going to have to live with this monster for another seventeen years! He was the first and only grandson and nephew so a lot of well-meaning people avalanched me in baby stuff. I left my kid's baby shower with three garbage bags full of stuffed animals. I thought this was a bit much. I didn't know how lucky I was. Stuffed animals, at least, are very soft. I had yet to contend with razor sharp lego pieces, odds and ends of robots, and those hellish toys on wheels that for some reason needed to be stored on the stairs.
By the time he was five I felt like I was on the kindergarten episode of "Hoarders". There were tottering stacks of toys and books everywhere I went. Every time I felt like I could deal with one tower there would be a new truckload of stuff pouring in. I was operating under the delusion that I could let everyone else indulge my kid as long as I personally did not indulge him. When I found the dead cat, suffocated amongst aforementioned stuffed animals, I knew something had to give. (Funny story: the cat had not decomposed enough to be visibly distinguishable from all the toy animals. We had to touch and smell each one. Thank you to my in-laws who gave us those corpse-handling gloves for Christmas that year!) The fact that shortly after disposing of the cat Frick started bitching about how the obnoxious kid down the street has more stuff than him let me know that our situation had become desperate. All this stuff was making my kid shitty.
Then I heard some talk show with some gimmicky doctor spewing some psycho-babble I just knew I could exploit. It went something like "give your kids experiences not stuff...blah blah blah....less is more.....something something...studies show...something about self-esteem." Everything sounded right and it had the certified stamp of approval from a celebrity quack. So when my family was saying "Well what do we give him for his birthday?" I said:
"Take him to the movies?"
And then, just like magic, people started showing up at my house not to burden me with more plastic crap, but to take my kid away from me for like, several hours! They return with my kid, who is sufficiently distracted with all of the attention to not notice that he doesn't have a new toy, and then pat me on the back telling me what a great mom I am for coming up with this. Nobody ever has to know that I spend my freed up afternoon
And now, because I also had the fortune of having a baby whose birthday is over the March break, instead of having to scramble to find stuff to keep the crazy animals busy, I'll be having a lot of bubble baths in my crap-free home while everyone else fights over whose turn it is to spend quality time with my kids.
Happy Birthday Frick!