By Lisa Regula Meyer
The holidays are in full swing (and will be over by the time this post is up), and I’m trying to focus on the positive. It should be a happy time of the year, and this should be considered a good year for our family- no deaths, I graduated, Kenny is having a good year at school, and Dwight and I have had enjoyable teaching assignments. For the most part, I’m even succeeding at this whole holiday spirit thing, at least a little.
One thing that I’m very grateful for is the Holiday Shop that Kenny’s school puts on with the parents’ group there. The parents at our school do a great job making crafts, finding deals, and getting donations to make sure that the kids have a huge selection of gifts to choose from while teachers, other students, and parent volunteers help students do their own holiday shopping. This relieves me from the stress of shopping with him, and trust me, shopping is stressful enough on its own for me. After crafting some gifts and decorating cards, he proudly went off to school with his list of people he still needed gifts for, and ideas of what they might like written on the back of a money envelope containing his saved allowance for the past few weeks, and I proudly looked at my growing up kid.
That afternoon I picked him up from school, and couldn’t wait to hear what he had found to finish his holiday list. He showed me the ring he found for Grandpa D, the “family gifts” for our household that he could only tell me how much Dwight and I would love and no further details, the snow-globe for Grandma S, and the Hot Wheels car for Mr. D. Then- his eyes glimmering- he told me of his best find: not just one, but THREE! Barbie dolls for Miss E. And my heart sank. She might enjoy the dolls, but her dads would be anything but cool with this gift. There are small parts, the suggested age (3+) puts them at too old for her, and body image discussions are a big deal in their house (which is a good thing- but kind of contraindicates Barbie dolls as possible gifts). A classmate of his had given him the idea, and he thought it was brilliant, but I wanted to avoid the emotional fallout of having his gift rejected. So we had another Big Talk, this time about choosing gifts that will be appreciated and how best to show love to someone- hint: it’s not always buying something.
In the end, he took the Big Talk much better than I had expected, and we worked together to find a gift for Miss E that would be a hit- a book about a toad that a local artist had written and illustrated. The unexpected bonus in this whole thing, was a new toy for Kenny. Unsurprisingly, one of the reasons for his infatuation with the Barbie doll set was because he himself thought it was cool, so for finding such great gifts for most of the people on his list and dealing with a tough situation so well, we let him keep his favorite doll. The other two are being given to a local “angel child” gift tree to brighten some other child’s holiday a bit.
Yeah, I probably could have handled this far better than I did, but this whole parenting thing has no instruction manual, and I did the best that I could in the moment. But between this little episode and our night-on-the-town handing out treat bags with some of my friends and Kenny, you can paint me the proud mama of a kind hearted, long-haired, Barbie loving Brony this season. Somewhere my sister (the long-haired, girly Barbie-lover of us two) is laughing her head off.