Tag Archives: presents

You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right to Party!

Saturday was the day of birthday parties. My four year-old daughter came through a day of two parties pretty well. She was not unusually difficult at bath and bed time which is the real indicator of how tired she is. The day started at 5:00 A.M. when my son decisively awoke and would not get quiet again. I finally gave in and got him up at 6:00. Luckily, my daughter and wife slept through it. Otherwise, I don’t think the day would have unfolded quite as smoothly. I ended up taking my son for a walk because he was so loud. Being out in the cool morning air settled him down.

By 7:00, my daughter came down the stairs on her own. This is a great step for her. She used to not get out of her bed but would yell for us to come get her. Then at 8:00 my son was ready for his morning nap. Down he went, and down he stayed until a little past 10:30. This allowed my wife to get a really good sleep which was important as I was tuckered out by then.

At 10:30 we mustered the troops to walk across the street to our friends’ house for the first party. Well, the party started at 10:30. Mustering our troops is a long process, so we got there around 11:15. There were some good friends there for my daughter to play with, and my son is finally at a stage where we don’t have to worry about him putting small things in his mouth. He roamed around the space playing with toys. My wife handled more of the kid watching as I was really beginning to fade. Toward the end of the party, so were both kids. We decided to take them home before cake as there would be another party coming. We didn’t want to hit that one coming off a sugar high.

My wife took them back home and got my son in bed by the time I got back. My daughter asked to nap, a rarity, and had a solid quiet time. She then went with my wife to party #2 while I stayed home with napping son. I promptly fell asleep on the couch and was only woken up by very insistent, high-pitched notifications of his wakefulness. I don’t know how long he was awake before I got to him. I hauled myself upstairs, changed him, and liberated him from his crib. For a while, I sat comatose while he distributed the clean clothes from the kids’ dresser all about the floor. Finally, I got him and me downstairs, did the dishes, and got dinner started. My son is eating avocados like they are crack.

When my wife got back, my daughter was in pretty good spirits, and dinner/bath/bed went fine.

One take away from the day that I am pondering is how to handle present opening. At her recent birthday party, my daughter did not open presents. We have been dolling them out over time on days when there is not too much going on. At the morning’s party, the presents sat unopened, too. Evidently, at the afternoon party the present opening frenzy happened. I think eventually, she will open presents at her party, but I don’t think my daughter is quiet ready to handle the excitement that comes with that. However, I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another. What do others think?

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Filed under activities, celebrations

Something Good is Cooking!

Today is the actual birthday. My daughter is four. And there were presents. Some came from guests at our party on Sunday, some from family, one even from a former co-worker. The wonderful thing was that they all fell nicely within the parameters of what my wife and I are trying to create for an environment that fosters creativity and avoids reinforcing gender and other stereotypes. It was such a relief to not be put in the place of being a gatekeeper. (No Ghostbusters jokes here!).

Art supplies, books, magnetic letters, and many other things made the evening special, so special that my daughter is still singing to herself almost an hour after being put to bed. Luckily, so far, this has not woken or annoyed her brother to the point of him yelling. We’ll see.

My wife’s father sent us a play kitchen set that we had put on our wish list. We keep an Amazon wishlist for family (and friends if they ask) to help guide choices. As a friend said, “People will buy presents anyway even if you ask them not to, so you might as well make a list.” And this kitchen is great, and my daughter’s grandfather very generously made it happen.

It is made of wood and is gender neutral. My son loves fiddling with it already. It has a fridge, clothes washer and dryer, stove, oven, sink, microwave, clock, phone, and storage shelving. It did come with a hanging chalk board that people wrote did not work very well. I am going to mount a small magnetic dry erase board where it would have gone.

The user reviews mentioned how difficult and time consuming putting this kitchen together was. Had I done it alone, it would have taken some time, but it was very straight forward. Besides thinking there was a missing piece when there wasn’t everything went well. Even better than that, my daughter helped me put it together. She was very excited to use the real tools required to assemble this toy, and now she is even more invested in it because she had a hand in putting it together. The two little tools that came with the kit promptly went in her play tool box and nestled amongst the plastic representations of the other tools we used. I am very glad that I recently purchased a new drill and driver set that is light enough for her to use and has settings that prevent tearing out compressed wood products. I love this product line from Bosch, and so does my daughter!

I look forward to many years of use with this awesome kitchen set. Thanks Saba.

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Filed under Toys

Birthday Presents

My daughter is turning four. We have managed to keep her alive, healthy, and for the most part happy for four years. While the party this weekend will feature many of her friends, it is also a celebration of doing our job as parents.

And it is a chance to continue parenting. Birthday presents are a wonderful/terrible thing. I remember getting birthday presents and that being one of the highlights of the year for me. I have seen the excitement that a large gift giving ignites and the consequences afterward. I think there is a place for this in children’s lives (and adults’ lives, too).

The excitement is less a concern than the gifts themselves. I recently finished Rethinking Popular Culture and Media and am currently turning my last set of notes into digital objects. Some go to GoodReads on my lists, others to Delicious as bookmarks. Still others get added to Pandora as a new station.

One of the articles in the book, however, merits inclusion in this blog. Many, actually, were that good, but this one is especially pertinent to me. “Miles of Aisles of Sexim: Helping students investigate toy stores” describes Sudie Hofman’s college course assignment which led her students to look at toy stores with a critical awareness of gender. The results are not surprising, yet they are striking.

Some quotes:

  • Madison Avenue now encourages violence during playtime in the name of peace and justice.
  • The girls’ area…is well stocked with vanity mirrors… The focus is on being popular with boys. The shelves are overflowing with Mattel Barbies and endless paraphernalia, including Barbie’s scale, set at one weight: 110 pounds.
  • The girls’ section does not have many board games that stimulate creative thinking or require higher-order reasoning.
  • (for boys) science-based toys are solitary and don’t present opportunities for verbal or social development. Packaging hints at being the best or creating and building superior models or designs.
  • Toys for girls implicitly urge them to find husbands in order to get their dream lives. Girls are taught to compete with each other for male validation… Girls’ toys promote unattainable physical perfection and materialistic values and typically strengthen the cultural messages of inferiority and second-class status
  • twice as many toys for boys than girls

It is this that makes birthday presents so challenging for me. For many, these concerns are at best hogwash and at worst an example of crazy liberal plots to take over the world. I just don’t want to inundate my daughter with more negative messaging about her body, her role in society, and her worth.

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Filed under Commercialization