So much for good intentions

This week in Table Talk: You swore you'd raise kids with gender-neutral toys and no Barney. Then reality hit.

Published June 16, 2006 10:00AM (EDT)

Families Who Think

Famous Last Words: "When I have kids, I'll never ..."

Aspidistra - 07:40 am Pacific Time - Jun 9, 2006 - #284 of 346

We haven't had to face birthdays for the girls yet, but they're coming up and I'm dreading it. But for Christmas and any other occasion when someone might have been inclined to give them gifts, we made it VERY clear that the gifts were to be given to us to screen before the children got them. I still have things people gave them for Christmas sitting in the garage waiting for the right time. I have no compunction about telling people that I haven't given the children the gifts they got for them yet. This has led to some of my workmates referring to my home as "Gitmo," but I think they're just envious.

The one person I've had trouble stopping just doesn't hear me when I tell her "no gifts or treats." I've had to limit their contact with her, and she's none too pleased about it. (The kids miss her, too, because of the gifts and treats.) The last straw was at Christmas when she said she just wanted to give them something small. I suggested she just give them cards, which they love. She said she would give them cards, but she just happened to find a really nice flamingo nightlight and surely I couldn't be such a rigid, controlling mother that I would deny my children a pretty flamingo nightlight.

I said "yes" to the nightlight after repeated assurances that it was small, not breakable, and could be mounted on the wall. I made an exception to our normal rule that OH and I actually look at the gifts before they are given to the children, and I let her actually hand over the gift. The "nightlight" was a 2 ft tall lamp, not in any way mountable on the wall. It is neon and therefore made of highly breakable glass. At the time she gave this gift, she knew very well that N was still having serious tantrums, and everything breakable had had to be removed from her bedroom as a result. But apparently a breakable electric device that might shatter glass all over the floor was something I shouldn't be worried about.

The ugly "nightlight" now lives in our living room. The giver of the gift is still miffed with me over my curt insistence that it could not go in the girls' bedroom. And now she's looking forward to their August birthdays.

Sky Bluesky - 07:58 am Pacific Time - Jun 9, 2006 - #290 of 346

"Nightlight" sounds so much nicer than "two-foot neon monstrosity."

Simone - 06:11 am Pacific Time - Jun 9, 2006 - #275 of 346

In re: gender neutral toy buying, one of my friends knows a woman who had 3 boys before having a baby girl. The girl wore nothing but boy hand-me-down clothes, and lived in a house full of nothing but boy/gender neutral toys. At 8 months old, she attended a playdate with a bunch of other kids, and was crawling around a bit, when all of a sudden she stopped, transfixed by something across the room. She crawled across a virtual minefield of sharp, pointy Legos in order to reach ... the one PINK lego lying in the middle of the pile, which she grasped, triumphantly held aloft, and refused to relinquish for the rest of the playdate. Her mother said that, in all likelihood, the little girl had never even SEEN the color pink before. So, you have to accept that kids, to a large extent, are going to grow up to be themselves, and not your Ideal. And they start being themselves at an alarmingly early age ...

reverendmother - 09:59 am Pacific Time - Jun 9, 2006 - #298 of 346

My favorite story about gender and toys: a friend gave dolls to her daughter and to her two sons. The girl, at 9 months or so, lifted her shirt and pretended to nurse it. The boys used it as a hammer.

vina - 06:49 pm Pacific Time - Jun 9, 2006 - #316 of 346

I swore no Barney, but it turns out he didn't really bug me, although those evil child actors that play his friends did. Fortunately we never had to watch too much of them. And I like Elmo, too, which I didn't expect before I had a child. The one that still bugs the living crap out of me is Baby Bear. God, I hate that miserable little puppet. Teo has never been a Sesame Street fan, though, so I've had very little of it to tolerate.

I don't think I had a whole lot of "I'll nevers ..." as related to behaviors. All my life, my mother has said that whatever you criticize in other people's kids will come back to haunt you in your own, so I mostly have kept my mouth shut, just out of fear of karma.

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