I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be the kind of parent who does not buy presents for Hannukah. I would absolutely, positively LOVE to be the kind of parent who has succesfully convinced her children that experiences, or possibly even charitable contributions suffice. (Hell, I would also like to be the kind of parent whose children have never heard of Family Guy but I won’t be greedy.)
Instead, I am the kind of parent who brought this shit into my house on Night Two of the Festival of Lights:
I blame my sister and brother in law for this. They didn’t buy it, but my five year old saw a picture of her beloved cousin with a life-sized Elsa Doll and demanded that THIS monstrosity be hers for Hannukah. She specifically requested that the doll be large enough so that she herself would be able to climb into the box it came in. This thing is over three feet tall and graces just about every room in the house. She is wherever I look. The other children are scared of her.
I wanted to be like a friend who gave her daugher Jewish Feminist t-shirts for Hannukah. They are fantastic and we do have quite a panoply of women from which to choose. (True, with my luck all the Gloria Steinems would be sold out and I’d be stuck with a Bella Abzug shirt. I love you Bella, but I’m not sure I would wear you across my chest.) Instead, I welcomed a life sized-Barbie into my home. I’m not even going to discuss the lip gloss palettes I bought. I feel sick just thinking about them.
My seven year old always asks for something odd and then regrets it immediately. (One year: A “baby clothes waching machine” that was basically a wooden box with a door which we now use to store other crap in.) This year she wanted a remote-controlled car. I went one step further and got her a kit she has to build and then can control. Whoopeee! Was I finally getting a girl who wants to build? Could I humble brag with reckless abandon?? (Aw shucks, I just wish she’d ask for the damn lip gloss.) True, I myself cannot navigate the Goldiblocks/lego world (it all looks the same to me, sorry) and I used to cut up jigsaw puzzles as a kid just to make the pieces fit… but if I have an offspring who wants to do this, then why not encourage it?
Of course, said child took one look at her remote control lego car and another look at Godzilla Barbie and almost lost her mind with envy. I pulled her aside and whispered something about lip gloss on night six. That did the trick and I officially suck as a feminist mother.
I like to think that it’s because Hannukah came so early this year; I didn’t have time to be the kind of gifting parent I want to be. But I know better. Even if Hannukah came on December 25th, I’d leave this all to December 22nd (if I am luckly) and buy up all this crap in a panicked frenzy, giving no thought to the substance of it all.
Oh well, maybe next year.
I’ve been less than productive in terms of blogging this month because we are days away from the bar mitzvah of our oldest child. The bar mitzvah involves a large family trip, the planning of which seems to be akin to the Normandy Invasion.
Being a shitty planner means that not only can I not plan well (duh), but also that I cannot plan and do anything else at the same time.
You may be unsurprised to learn that I am a worse packer than a planner. On each trip at least one person arrives with no underwear, and if there is an item that we absolutely must remember to bring – yup, you guessed it.
The kids tried to help me pack, and by help I mean SHOVE STUFF IN MY CASES I HAVE NO INTENTION OF BRINGING. The list can include such wonders as: 4 sticks of Axe deoderant (Really Sir. How many armpits do you have?), the entire Pinkalicious collection (which if you’ve been following, clearly jumped the shark at Goldilicious), a Peyton Manning lightswitch cover, enough Pirate Booty to sink a .. ship, and this:
Each time I remove this cursed beast from my case, it finds its way back in. If you see a bright pink plastic Barbie pony falling from the sky, you’ll know it stowed away only to be discovered mid-flight.
Don’t pity the pony; according to her owner, all Barbie ponies can fly.
I don’t know which I found more disgusting.
The former was Francie’s birthday cake, which you will note was NOT made by me. I have a (toddler-sized) handful of talents and neither baking nor cake-decorating are included. (My version of cleaning out those nasty pastry bags is just to throw them out.) I momentarily contemplated building this myself, if only because Nigella (Domestic Goddess, page 210) makes it seem so easy. But M reminded me of other birthday cake disasters that he and other people have had to resuscitate. (Including the Elmo cake for Efram’s second that everyone agreed looked like Satan…)
He then told me that given my weekend jaunt to the east coast and the boys’ seemingly daily six-hour swim meets, that not only did I not have time to make the cake, but more importantly, that I didn’t have time to botch the first one and have to start again. (This is when he launches into a list of projects that required the use of my hands which he himself had to save me from, most notable: knitting. He had to teach himself to knit online and save me from my very first scarf fiasco.)
So I outsourced the baking. What you see before you is a Barbie (one of the ironed-hair skanky variety, not the doctor Barbie who is a brunette and wears a bun and glasses. I suppose beggars really cannot be choosers.) As if that weren’t bad enough, she seems to have been shoved into a mound of margarine-based frosting. Because that itself is not enough of an indignity, the poor girl has some frosting on her boobs. (I’m betting my retirement savings (as if!) that someone is going to ask if he can lick it off.) And look at the poor lass’s hands — way above her head, in full stripper-hopping-out-of-cake pose. I suppose I might as well have gotten my dear, eldest daughter a Katy Perry cake. I can read all the Frances Hodgson Burnett I like to her; one bite of this devil’s cake and she’s lost to me forever. There is absolutely nothing about this that makes me happy.
The latter photo was the rat who had been tormenting us for about four days. He hadn’t come in the house, but he’d shown up in the garden and the driveway and last night he ate dinner under the table on our deck. Nibbled on our leftovers. Apparently grilled salmon is very big with rats. (The rat and the Barbie doll managed to intersect when Efram asked Francie’s friends, who were busy devouring Barbie’s dress, if he could show them the rat in the trash. That was actually better than what he had been previously doing: taking pictures of her friends and then making them fat and bald with some revolting iPhone app he found.)
M bought a couple of traps. Last night we found the little bugger in the driveway, in his final repose. I don’t know what killed him — the salmon, the rat poison, the wheel of the guitar teacher’s car, or spending copious amounts of time with five poorly-behaved children.
You know which one gets my vote.