January 19, 2015

My Boys Love Their Toys, Me Not So Much

Santa barely makes it back to the North Pole and already I'm  planning the next big gift occasion? Ahhh! Birthdays.

As the boys were born not quite two years apart, February has become an eventful month for me.  I've yet to decide what to do about parties.  Both boys want separate, special venue parties for their friends.  I would love to just have a family party.  I know I'll never get away with that but I am hoping they will meet me somewhere in the middle.  I really don't want to plan, pay for and attend two ChuckECheese parties.  I'd like to see the boys agree to share a venue like that or have separate parties at the park district.  Either way, I need to a) sit down and discuss this with them, b) book the rooms and c) send out invitations.  Soon.

Liam has been telling me what he wants for his birthday all weekend.  This is very annoying.  Not only is he very specific with his expensive toy taste but he still has Christmas toys in their factory-sealed boxes.  And he doesn't drop the subject either--he brings it up three or four times a day, even going as far as to suggest hiding places if I buy the gifts now.  On the other hand, Henry collected a list of toys he wants, then narrowed it down to just one, asked nicely and then never revisited the topic. Maybe there's hope for this family yet.

I wonder if I would be this perturbed if I had daughters who asked for sweet things like American Girl dolls and clothing, Barbie campers and fashion design software.  Tutus, dance shoes, little ponies and a new comforter set....  I think those things would be much more fun to shop for and I can understand an obsession with getting gifts like that.  

I find myself nostalgic for the days when everything in the under 5 toy aisles was sure to be well-received.  It was difficult to watch them outgrow Thomas the Tank Engine, PlaySkool and Fisher Price but then there was Disney's CARS to fill the void.  Liam loved CARS.  Inevitably he became more interested in Hot Wheels and that was okay too.  But now?  Oh, how I detest shopping for Angry Birds, Hexbugs and Pokemon booster packs.  Of course, he asks for worse and I put my foot down.  When it comes to themed toys, I feel like we're both settling and neither of us are very happy with what ends up in the playroom.

Now I'll grant that this is beginning to sound like a very preoccupied, first world problem post.  And it is--there's no denying it.  I'm complaining that I can no longer make my children smile by bringing home this 
and instead I have to bring home this

We all know that most kids in the world are lucky to have a roof over their heads and one meal a day.  I'm grateful for the abundance and blessings I can share with my children.  I just wish they were as well.*

Let's end on a positive note, shall we?  While I bemoan the loss of their innocent play, I realize it isn't really gone.  Not yet, anyway.  The three of us happily visited our local Build-a-Bear Workshop.  The boys waited patiently in the 30 minute line and enjoyed watching their plush choices come to life.  Of course, I would have preferred that they choose traditional bears or sweet woodland creatures.  But no--their minds were set on a camouflage bear and a Ninja Turtle which they promptly dressed in "skull" pajamas.  I took a deep breath and agreed to the purchase.  

It's okay--they're still soft and cuddly.  (So are their new stuffed animals.)

*Later this year, I plan on handing the boys a more active role in giving to charity--in addition to Toys for Tots and mitten trees.  I want them to see firsthand how the rest of the world lives and what can be done to offer a helping hand.


  1. I am really wanting to nip Elena's constant asking for things in the bud. She has always been pleasant to take to the mall as she knows we are just window shopping but the whole time she is saying, "I want this, I want that. When you have money, mommy, please buy me this"...I added the please ;) I want to give her so much but also don't want to spoil her. Such a fine line...I am lucky tho that she is into Barbies & tutus...I'll be interested in hearing your methods for teaching them charity.

  2. I've always struggled with the whole birthday thing & I'm probably the last person that should give advice - however I do have some words of wisdom:
    Big C always preferred an "experience" rather than a big party. He & I would go to a basketball game (in really good seats), go on a little road trip, etc. Little C is all about the big hoopla with friends. He likes to be the star of the show. For both boys I told them my budget for party & gifts and I let them have input on how the money would be allocated.

  3. As far as party ideas I think you were at the Dr Seuess PJ party. Carter took pride in the PJs & books we collected for kids in need. 2 years ago Carter told me for months that he wanted a Surprise Party. That was fun - we just did it at his Dad's house but he loved the surprise. A woman at work recently had her sons' birthday party at PetSmart or Petco. They have a party room there & they bring out different animals for the kids to see. The kids loved it. My biggest birthday snsfoo was last year - there were 5 school mate's parties in the month of September & 4 of them were at the Rec Centre. If we had been smart we would have rented out the Rec Centre pool & party room for the whole class for one afternoon that month! Whatever you decide to do - I wish you the very best of luck.

  4. Love their build a bear choices! I'm looking forward to hearing how you help get your boys involved in giving to charity. It's something I need to do, too.

  5. Listen to yourself. You said "I really don't want to plan, pay for, and attend two Chuck E Cheese parties." Don't do it then! The boys will live. If my kids still had unopened Christmas presents I'd have a hard time buying them anything at all for their birthday... I think I may be scroogier than you, though. I like the idea to tell them the party budget and let them make some of the choices about what's most important to them. Good luck-- I really hope their birthdays are fun for all of you.

  6. Hey Lara! Have you considered an every other year type compromise? When I was growing up (back before the wheel was round) we only had friend birthday parties every other year. Of course those were not the huge productions that exist now, but you get my drift :). I know it's getting close to February,but maybe you could put both boys' names in a hat. Draw one name and that person has the friend party this year. The other boy can invite ONE friend to accompany him to the brother's 'big' party. You have a nice family celebration for the other boy. Next year you switch. Yes Liam gets the short end of the stick because he's younger and the compromise starts now, but tough noogies, life isn't fair. Though he probably won't notice that detail, but if so again life isn't fair. There are benefits to being older sometimes and benefits to being younger sometimes.

    I'm with you on the no-fun toy buying for older boys. If you read my latest post about the super-heroes you'll know I'm right there with you. Thank goodness Tate has no idea who/what any of this you've mentioned is...the pokemon, Hexabugs, Angry Birds...the beauty of being an only child...he doesn't get introduced to that stuff at a younger age :) Then I worry that I'm raising a pansy...I definitely don't want Tate to be a wuss, so then I wonder should I let him venture outside his comfort zone, who am I kidding? My comfort zone. It's hard to walk this line of wanting to keep the innocence and sheltering so much that they have nothing in common with other boys their age. Sigh...

  7. HA! I have a girl who loves her tutus, tiaras and stuffed animals. All stuff I HATED as a kid and so have no sentimental reason to buy. yet I still do because I know it will make her happy. I just wish she would ask for a tool or something similar.

    Hope the party planning works out! I dread it! Add to it the cost of doing anything outside your apartment here in NYC... Last year I skipped it. Doubt I'll get away with that this year!

  8. Yep you got a both in Feb. and that I am sure is a project. Those build a bear places look so cool we never had those when we were kids. But life goes on with new inventions and such is life. I like so much that you do
    care for the environment and charity please keep us posted on those important activities.