The best part of giving your kids presents is that look on their faces. You know the one: eyes wide and sparkling and a grin big enough to fit a face on Mount Rushmore. They squeal, they scream, they squirm and dance and jump for joy — it's just a vision of pure bliss. They gush about how you're the "best parents ever." And while absorbing these priceless reactions, we devoted moms and dads get a rush of warmth and happiness that I guarantee would rival any drug.
Maybe, like an actual drug, that rush truly is addictive. Maybe parents are hooked on their kids' happiness — we're absolute fools for making them smile, and we'll do almost anything to see it. Because that's the only reason I can think of that would make us lose our ever-loving MINDS around birthdays and holidays the way we all do.
It happens every year when it's time to buy gifts for my children: I venture into the toy store, and suddenly it's like some kind of temporary insanity takes me over. I spot a certain item, and literally all I can envision is how much they're going to looooove it. My common sense is hijacked by the promise of their reaction, those shiny eyes and delighted claps.
Dealing with the aftermath of kid gifting insanity is a hard, cold dose of reality.
This renders me momentarily blind to the reality of how messy or loud or annoying (or all three) the gift is going to be. Only after the occasion is over, and the rush has subsided, does the fog lift and I enter the "what the hell was I thinking?" phase. Dealing with the aftermath of kid gifting insanity is a hard, cold dose of reality, the reality I so conveniently seem to overlook during the purchase.
One time, for example, I bought my insect-obsessed son a huge tube of very lifelike plastic bugs. A whole variety of types. Like, a hundred of them. As I'd suspected, he was thrilled. I, however, cursed my own stupidity every time I found one lurking in a random location — barely sticking out from underneath the couch or nestled into my shoe. I can't count the number of times I nearly sh*t myself discovering a centipede in the closet or a spider in the sink. Worst of all was the fear that one day I'd pick up an actual spider thinking it was fake. I secretly threw them away one by one, but since there were so many, it took months.
Then there was the "slime lab" that I just knew would dazzle the pants off my little budding scientist. But did I consider the fact that my kid couldn't even eat a tube of yogurt without slopping it all over the place, let alone handle using chemicals to concoct a glowing-green sludge? Or how the slime would stain every surface it touched? Or how it would crust into my carpet like radioactive boogers? No. No, I did not. Boogery carpet, 1; Mom, 0.
Without fail, birthdays and holidays come and go, and I'm left with puddles of half-solidified plastic on my kitchen counter (from the must-have 3D drawing pen) or the migraine-inducing screech of those coveted walkie-talkies. Never again, I grumpily lecture myself — and anyone else who's listening — as I google "how to remove fake lava from upholstery" or unearth the ten-thousandth scattered plastic bead from the bottom of my foot.
Is all the irritation and hassle worth it just to see my kids' faces light up like fireworks? Nope. Absolutely not, but you can bet I'll do it again at the same time next year.