So, I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents.
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.
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.
Rachel is the author of the blog Motherhood.Squared where she tells tales of boy/girl twins and their two mommies.