8 Gifts To NEVER Buy Another Mom's Child
This weekend we’ll be celebrating our son’s eighth birthday. And while my son is giddily counting down the days until he is finally another year older, for me, his birthday comes with a certain measure of dread. For even more than the thought of hosting 20 third-graders hopped up on sugar and determined to wreak as much havoc as humanly possible, I dread the birthday gifts they'll leave behind for my son when they go.
Over the years, I've learned that kids' gifts generally fall into three broad categories:
- Something the kid will hate
- Something the kid will love
- Something that he’ll love ... but that will earn you the stink-eye on the playground and ensure that you are forever blackballed from the cool moms drink-a-thons
So, as a public service to moms everywhere, I've rounded up the absolute worst offenders in the birthday gift-giving and party-favor department -- though these rules hold true for any other occasion that requires the giving of gifts.
If you want to keep your mom friends -- and good ones are sooo hard to find -- under no circumstances should you EVER give the child of a fellow mom ANY of these eight Producers Of Hell On Earth. And if you're ever tempted to do so, just remember that eventually your kid will have a birthday party -- and payback is likely to be deafeningly loud, ridiculously sticky and/or unable to be removed from upholstery despite repeated professional cleanings.
The verboten list includes:
Anything that makes the ears bleed. Remember Spinal Tap (“This one goes to 11”)? Any gift whose decibel level makes an Ozzy Ozbourne concert seem like the Quiet Zone is not the stuff of gift bags. And this goes DOUBLE for those toys whose Off buttons are cunningly hidden inside a panel that requires a specific screwdriver not typically found in a standard tool-kit to access. I used to wonder why one veteran mom (grandmom, actually) persisted in giving my son board-books and wooden puzzles that made every kind of siren noise, engine whine and construction clang known to humankind ... until I realized she wore a hearing aid. If a mom will require a cochlear implant after prolonged exposure to a given toy, for the love of all that's good and holy, leave that fucking thing on the shelf.
Anything whose repetition will land you a suite in the Rubber Room Hotel. A subset of the Toys That Make The Ears Bleed category, these kinds of toys loudly tootle out songs that you cannot get out of your head with an ice pick -- though after a few rounds you will desperately want to try. Give a kid a gift that plays the synth-pop version of It’s A Small World on an endless loop, and no jury of her peers will convict that kid’s mom for what she will do to you once she hunts you down.
Anything that makes Chucky look like a cuddly Cabbage Patch doll. Like the pink pig one of my husband's aunts gave my son one Christmas. This little piggie, which came dressed in a glittery red Santa suit and oinked out "Jingle Bells" when you pulled its tail, looked like the result of a Deliverance/Amityville Horror mashup. And it went from the gift bag right into the garbage bag.
Anything that Daddy will think is HIS. These gifts usually come with a remote controller. Or they fly. Or they have a remote control gizmo that makes something fly. And while this SOUNDS like a great gift idea, what happens when Dad spies the RC Anything nestled in the tissue paper is that his Inner Child jumps out and grabs it. Your child will never see it again.