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Just in time for Christmas

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I’m going to moan about gifts, especially the ones Daughter gets.  Both sets of grandparents are a bit, um, enthusiastic when it comes to gift-giving, and I know I shouldn’t complain, right?  Right, I know, but I’m going to make a few observations anyway.

I’ve noticed that Daughter quickly becomes desensitized to gifts if she’s overindulged.  For instance, she once received nine (yes, nine) princess dolls in a box once.  We are now down to four, through various blessed acts of God involving mildew and vacuum cleaners, and Daughter really doesn’t care.  In other words, she frequently throws one away, because it is no longer new or perfect, or whatever.  I found this behavior troubling, and I think that if you have toys, then you should appreciate them, otherwise you have too many toys.

Daughter does have a few toys that are close to her heart and get a lot of love, and one grandparent or the other has tried to get similar toys for her, but I always stop it as soon as I can.  The reasoning seems to go, “if she loves one bunny, she’ll love two bunnies twice as much”.  In reality, Daughter really only loves the one bunny, and the second one ends up in a corner for a few months before I pack it off to the charity shop.

I try to stop this by giving as many direct suggestions as possible without being Attila the Daughter (in Law), and Husband and I have put our foot down firmly several times, but I wish people would stop and consider what is going on.  Buying loads of gifts does not prove anything, frustrates the child and the parents, and just puts money in a shopping till instead of in a bank or charity where it could do some good.  As Sister-in-Law recently asked in desperation, how many outfits can a one-month old baby wear anyway?

I’ll offer a counterscenario, just to show I’m not a cold-hearted, tight-fisted mother who doesn’t want her child to have any fun in life.  We recently went to Disneyland, and Husband set me to the task of limiting toys and related debris since we were with my side of the family.  After a few days of consideration, I laid down one ground rule – Daughter could only have one souvenir of any kind from Disneyland.  I told this to Daughter, Husband, and everyone else on our trip well in advance and repeated it several times before we got there.  I didn’t actually think it would work, but it did.  Daughter was very careful in choosing her one thing (a dress up Minnie Mouse) and has played with it daily since we came back.  I have not once heard “I wish I had more” or “I want that and that” or “You didn’t let me get loads of toys and you’re a terrible mother”.  Minnie it was and Minnie it is.  Knowing in advance that she could only get one thing helped her focus on what she really wanted, no matter how cliche it seems.

So, sometimes we have to settle for giving and getting only one thing.  But it really is so much more satisfying…


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