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Posts Tagged ‘Barbie’

Dear Santa, I would like a laptop, an iTouch, a Nintendo DS….

November 19, 2010 2 comments
A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

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Halloween is not in the can for a week, and the Christmas crap starts.

Before I have even taken the skeletons and cobwebs (this, in itself, is alarming: Halloween decorations??) to storage and put away the multiples of costumes, the kids have their Christmas lists finished and are asking about their dresses.

Dresses? For one day?

As I’m questioning the necessity of whether they each need a dress they will never wear (Doesn’t last year’s fit? How about something a little nicer than normal that you will actually wear again throughout the year?), I catch a glimpse of my oldest daughter’s list.

The first item is a laptop computer.  And then the cheeky bugger has listed several other items beneath it, since you can’t simply get one gift for Christmas.

Hardly an original thought, but once more, with feeling: have we lost our marbles when it comes to consumerism at Christmas?

I said as much to her.  “But I need it for school! We don’t have enough laptops to go around,” she wailed.

She is eleven.  Whatever happened to the blackboard?  And slates?

I try not to point my finger solely at her – it is the age in which we live.  Also to blame is her peer group, who seem to up the ante on every birthday and occasion. You can’t blame her for trying.  But it seems to get worse every year, the wish list loftier and longer, the price tags higher, the gadgets fancier.

We’ve traded in American Girls (who knew you could spend that much dough on a doll?) for electronics.  A couple of years ago it was the iPod, then the Nintendo DS, then the iTouch.  (The requests for the cell phone have been ignored although her voice gets louder, and I am sad to report she is in the minority of her group of friends who must resort to land lines for calling home – “use your friends cellphone,” I tell her cheerfully.)

When I was her age I was lucky to get a Barbie.  The world, and not just my daughter, has gone mad.  And you either must buck up in order to make their wishes come true, or buck the trend; in which case your name, come Christmas day, will be the Grinch.  Or Scrooge.  Pick your poison.

The answer, of course, is to educate your children about those who have so little at this time of year; let’s help them instead.  We gather necessities and tiny treasures and put them together for families in need in our community.  We deliver bags of food to the Food Bank.  We talk about all the people all over the world who are simply trying to survive each day, let alone play with a new toy.  We do all this until the cows come home.  And yet when tucking them in at night, it’s back to their list.

This is where the tough parenting comes in.  I love my children to the ends of the earth, but it’s my job to teach them that their happiness can’t be bought.  I want them to be joyously happy on Christmas Day, but not because I’ve forked out January’s grocery money on their gift.  I want them to have great friends and feel secure but not because they received what the rest of their friends got during the holiday.  I want them to be thoughtful, loving, caring, empathetic citizens, not greedy, selfish drama queens.

It’s so much easier to say yes than no, but what is that teaching them?  I always did have a soft spot for the Grinch.

November: a new year begins

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment
A 30 kHz bright light therapy lamp (Innosol Ro...

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That’s right.

It is November, not January, or September for other non-conformists, that marks the beginning of the year in my house.

November can be a tough month.  Some grow mustaches for a great cause, and select lucky ones fly off to sunnier destinations, since it’s too early for skiers to ski, too rainy for bikers to bike.  The rest of us grin and bear November and the rain it inevitably brings.  Or go out and buy a sun lamp to lessen their Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I nominate November to become National House Purging month.  A month to declutter, reorganize, become the minimalists we all want to be.  (In an unbelievable quirk of fate, my friend has set the date for her clothing swap for Nov. 30 – in preparation I have already sorted out my closet: https://reganrants.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/fun-green-and-free-clothing-swaps/

By November, the craziness of September is out of the way – ironing out multiple routines for children, figuring out how to be in three places at once, dealing with new teachers and coaches and expectations of advancing education.  October provides last glimpses of decent weather and a brief breather before the Halloween onslaught begins, the indecision about what to be and how to find it culminating, of course, in a sugar crazed fit of hysteria and exhaustion by 9 pm Halloween night.

We wake up with sugar hangovers, and welcome November.

The costumes are put away, the candy stash dwindles, and we settle in for a long winter season.  Like clockwork, a desire to purge and organize my house overtakes me.

On Saturday, I innocently started organizing the Barbie bin, and before I knew it had two bags of trash (headless Barbie’s, dolls missing limbs, pieces to toys long since broken), one bag of recycling (workbooks completed, books missing key pages) and three bags for the Salvation Army (naked dolls with only slightly matted hair, toddler toys reluctantly outgrown.)

My children were a vital part of this process.  At first they voiced their discontent with shrill screams and tears, but once they understood I was trying to create a better, organized (if not bucolic) setting for them to play in, they were a great help.  I would ask them if they still played with an item, and if it was in good working order and they assured me it would be used, we found a bin or basket for it.  If the toy in question was broken or of no value to them, they gamely put it in the proper pile to give away or recycle.

At the end of the day (literally – it took all day) they were so pleased that they had helped create this newly organized world, still slightly cluttered but yet new, fresh ground, ready for them to unleash their limitless imaginations.

Next step: their closets.  Deep breath.