Hers, His, Theirs

So, I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents.

I know.

But before you think I’m one of those organized, plan-ahead people, let me be clear that the only reason my mind started taking that jog was because a friend of mine, fully aware of my son’s obsession with Thomas The Train and his knockoff brand trains and accessories, sent me a link on Monday to a Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Roadhouse on Kids.Woot! It was $35.00.

Sidebar: internet, if you don’t know about Kids.Woot! yet, consider yourselves now educated. Once a day, they list something for an insanely low price. And they sell ‘em till they’re gone, so you gotta move fast. Most of the time, those something’s are things that we don’t want or need or aren’t age-appropriate. But sometimes there’s a gem. Like that Railway Roadhouse.

Except that I had already bought one. A Deluxe one. Got suckered into it at a Thomas & Friend’s playdate at the local BRU. And even with a coupon, it was $87.00. I swear, that place is Stockholm Syndrome, but with inanimate objects.

Anywoot. At that price, I went ahead and bought it for my nephew for HIS Christmas present. Which brings me back to where I started: I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents.

All our focus on them being treated as independent individuals, but I can barely count on one hand those items that are exclusively one child’s or the other’s. Those things being as significant, but as unentertaining as their own rooms, his Raffy, and her woobie. Thomas and Gordon are his. Those little bobble-heady cats and dogs from grandma are most definitely hers. But beyond that? Theirs.

You know what? This isn’t even about Christmas gifts. Because as I write this, I’m realizing that we I think about the whole his, hers, theirs thing every time we introduce anything new into the toy or activity mix. And 99% of the time, it’s easier if it’s just theirs. Even when that 99% contributes to a good 50% of the tussles and meltdowns.

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We have the play kitchen and play food and two doll strollers and hand puppets and puzzles and duplos and flash cards and books and art supplies and dinosaurs and cars and trains and stuffed animals and watering cans and two tricycles and one shared barn for the farm animals and two pair of wings. At their birthday, they each opened a couple gifts, but ultimately those gifts ended up being both of theirs. For Christmas, their sibling gift will be a gender-neutral dollhouse, or something to that effect.

And yet, isn’t part of individuation having something you can call your own?

The boy loves trains, so that is his thing. The girl’s interest in the trains or train table extends only to the amount of anxiety she can produce in him after snatching Gordon’s tender or knocking over a bridge and then running away.

Quite by accident, (I was searching the Craigslist posts for a Thomas Halloween costume), we found the boy’s Christmas gift when a family decided to off their entire collection of Thomas stuff. When I saw the listing, I went to the internet to start pricing the retail value of the SIXTY-TWO items included in their post and I had reached their asking price by item number eight. NUMBER EIGHT. It was a gold mine, I tell you. And now we’re covered for Christmas, the next birthday, part of NEXT Christmas, and as many potty training incentives as we might need in between. Unless he decides he doesn’t like trains.

But the girl? I have NO IDEA.

I know, I know. They’re not even two-and-a-half. They won’t remember it. They’ll really have opinions of what they each like and don’t like as they get older, so enjoy this while it lasts. All that.

As of now? I’m just hoping we can come up with some ideas that can she can find in her stocking that will be hers alone.

Any ideas?

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Rachel is the author of the blog Motherhood.Squared where she tells tales of boy/girl twins and their two mommies.

9 thoughts on “Hers, His, Theirs

  1. I have found the same challenge. For their birthday, we ended up randomly wrapping some gifts in pink wrapping paper and others in blue, more so they’d have equal numbers of things to open. We knew 90% of it would end up being “theirs.”

    It seems to be getting marginally easier as they get older and their separate interests become a little more pronounced. But mostly, everything is still “theirs.”

  2. My daughter is not really into much like her brother is. He seems to get obsessed with lots of things – TRAINS! HELICOPTERS! BALLS! CARS! PLAYDOH! However, she kid of likes stuffed animals so I am thinking of taking her to Build-A-Bear for her birthday (end of November) to let her do the whole experience. Not sure how much she will “get it” but I think it will be fun. Is that something you think your little girl might like?

  3. Get her Disney Princess anything! My girls love anything princess like (one more than the other). Has she seen any Disney Movies yet? Mine watched Little Mermaid and love her.

    The girls do have items that belong to each one and they know that it does. Things that are owned are things like: Ariel dolls (they are different kinds), Toy Story Alien and Penguin, Ariel and Princess Aurora nightgowns, Tinkerbell and Minnie Mouse pajamas, Minnie and Mickie dolls, beds, owl and parrot stuffed toys, backpacks, lunch containers, and shoes. These were all items that were disney gifts (don’t seem to care so much about nondisney gifts) given to them or they picked out themselves from the store. So as you can see, they really aren’t different interests at all. They are 3 so maybe the different interests will show later, for now its more of one likes to DO something more than the other. Rather than one likes a something more than the other.

    Really though, princess anything should do it.

  4. Instead of more items, how about item containers? My boys (age 3) are really into putting their “stuff” into bags or containers, they are into sorting and carrying and loading and dumping out stuff, in and out of bags, etc. So if she has her own container that may be an idea. Or her own bath caddy into which she can put all her own fun bathtime stuff. Or how about a gift to both which is a game they can play TOGETHER. Such as that cool fishing game with the little fishing poles, or even Connect 4. My boys love Connect 4 which they stole from their older brother.

  5. I struggle with this too on a slightly different level. My son (singleton) is 3, he was the first grandchild and was spoiled. My girls are 1 (2nd and 3rd grandchildren). I’m not opposed to them getting “their” kinds of gifts but more so it seems my son gets HIS gift, and the girls get THEIR gifts. And often HIS gift will equal in price what THEIR gift costs. I know they are still young and eventually (HOPEFULLY) the gift givers will buy individual gifts or a gift for all of them. I feel like my girls are getting the shaft.

    I remember last Easter my mom sent an Easter card to my son, then one to my girls. The card was meant for a girl but she put an S on the end so it was meant for both of them. I told her how much this upset me. Either get one single one for EVERYONE, or get one for them all together. My girls weren’t even 1 and could care less about a card but now who’s “memory” box do I put it in? LOL. I just don’t want a pattern forming.

  6. Amy..that would annoy me too!! Grrr! Lucky for me, my family has picked up from me that they are 2 individuals. I don’t dress them alike at family functions (even though sometimes I would really like too, but my husband is against it), I use their names when I address them, and I always refrain from labeling in front of family. If a family member asks, which one is the one, I say it depends on their mood or that it changes. I’m glad that my family is able to pick up on these cues..I hope your family will too!

  7. I wonder about this too. Our singleton son (3) claims all the toys are for “everyone to share” which really means he thinks they are all his. Our twins daughters (20 months) don’t have very many things that they claim as their own. I don’t think they seem any toys as uniquely theirs, except what they are playing with at the moment. They are getting more interested in dolls recently, but they are equally interested in cars, animals, books, puzzles and blocks.

    As for Christmas, I’m not sure about individual versus group gifts. I’d like to get them a high chair and stroller for their “babies.” I’d rather get them a high chair and a stroller to share than to get two high chairs. I would wrap one for each girl to open, but I’d expect them (and their older brother) to all play with them – I could get him the baby bathtub :) I’ll admit I have an easy way out because their birthdays are only 2 weeks after Christmas so I can get them another set of gifts soon after if they aren’t able to share.

    I guess that until they start to claim things as their own and start to show their own unique interests, I’m not going to worry too much.

  8. In our house, gifts/new toys are given to one person, but within a week or two it belongs to everyone in the playroom/craft cupboard, etc. Except for those few rare gem toys. . . This applies to both the twins and singletons. I don’t know that this concern is specific to multiples. I think it happens in many families without multiples too.

  9. @Kristen – you are right, this isn’t specific to multiples, BUT, it’s my only frame of reference since I only have twins. I was talking about this with my sister, too, and she experiences the same thing with her two girls, 18 months apart.

    @Judy – you are right about the princess thing! We don’t even have cable and my daughter adores Tinkerbell and Princess stuff. In fact, she refers to skirts as “princesses”. So guess who inspired me to start sewing so I can make as many princesses as she wants!?

    @Jenna – I’m leaning towards not worrying too much about it. I guess I just get all bummed (for the girl) when stuff for the boy really does become HIS stuff (because she doesn’t like it) and stuff for the girl becomes THEIRS (because he likes her stuff, too.)

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