Every time my child gets an invitation to a birthday party, there's a moment of dread. I want to buy the birthday child a nice gift that's a reasonable price ($15 or less). But whenever I enter the store, my brain fogs up in a haze of dolls, trucks, and games. What if they already have this toy? Shouldn't they be doing something more creative, like coloring or building with blocks? Once, I tried asking my son what he thought his friend would like, and he, of course, picked out one of the most expensive items in the store. Right. Like that'll happen.
I'll meander through the aisles and eventually when my brain hits overload, I'll randomly choose something. One time, I bought a doll for my goddaughter that said "Mama" and "Papa." You can't go wrong with a gift like this, right? Even if they already have one, most girls like dolls. Apparently I should have shuffled through the remainder of the sounds because my sister-in-law called me later. The last sound made by the doll bears a strong resemblance to the word "Boogers." We still don't know what the doll was trying to say. This Christmas, she paid me back by giving my daughter a doll that sounds like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist." I haven't bought dolls for birthday parties since.
Now, I'm facing not one, but two birthday gifts to buy. One is for my son's friend and another for my son, whose birthday is in a few weeks. I'm already in panic mode. Not so much for the friend, but now for my son who is turning four. He has far too many toys, and I really don't want to add to the madness. He's getting a booster seat for the car, but it's hard to get excited about that. And he already has enough books to start a children's library.
I'm also grimacing at the cost of the paper products. He wants to have cupcakes and a party in his pre-K class, which is in the neighborhood of 24 kids. All the party products are in sets of eight. It would cost over $100 in paper products, if I bought themed plates. I believe this year we will be using the Styrofoam theme. I can hear the conversation now.
"Sweetie, don't you just love this gleaming white Styrofoam? Isn't it just wonderful?"
My son, "Mommy, I want Spiderman."
"But you can imagine Spiderman on there, can't you?"
I still haven't figured out the solution to this one.
So what did you buy your child on his/her last birthday? Any suggestions?
Michelle lives with her husband and children in southeastern Virginia, where she teaches sixth-graders and also writes historical romances.