I recently was nominated for a Liebster award, meaning that at least one other blogger out there felt what I spew forth into the world is a bit amusing or worth a read. As part of being nominated, one is supposed to answer some questions posed by their nominator and in turn the nominee nominates others and poses questions of their own. One that I came up with in the spirit of Xmas asked: What do you do when you or your kid receives something you simply cannot stand? I must concede that I had a few items in mind already that Stella had received and I asked that question with the full recognition that soon there may be one or two other items to add to that list.
Most of us have been raised to be gracious. If someone gives you something or serves you something that you find repellent or shockingly inappropriate, you simply smile, say thank you, and do your best to pretend to favor the offering until the person leaves. At that point, you are free to make faces, rude comments, gag, whatever. But regardless, you are NICE to the person who gave it to you and demonstrate that you are not a total ingrate. And then you get rid of the item.
Sometimes, however, it isn’t that easy. Sometimes the item is homemade, at which point you feel obligated to keep it and occasionally make an effort to display it. We were recently given a portrait of Stella that a family member commissioned. This person had done another one of her that was amazing, so the relative thought we would like one based on one of my favorite pictures of her. I got the painting and wanted to cry. The artist just kind of killed the essence of the picture. My daughter looks rather simian in it, as if she belongs on the wall of a natural history museum sandwiched between Cro Magnon and Neanderthal man. I just hate it. But I feel bad. At least I’ve been able to be very honest with the person who gave it to us. For the record, that person agrees that this painting is not a good representative of the original picture. It’s still sitting on the floor in Will’s man-cave (for now, in that with another kid coming, the man-cave’s days are numbered). I don’t know where to hang it or if I can bear to. Will has suggested we have another artist look at it and maybe touch it up. But what happens if it’s worse?! I get images of Celia Giménez and the painting she mangled, “Ecce Homo.” I will say this: that made me laugh so hard I nearly wet myself. I guess that WOULD be better.
In other cases, the giver is simply so excited by it that you feel badly for not loving it. Stella has received many of these items. Some of them are age/gender inappropriate. Others are…..slutty. Sorry. My 2 year old daughter is not putting on stripper clothing. I’m not a prude, but I do wield absolute veto power on some fronts. I just want her to be a little kid. Some of these things have stayed in her closet in case I need to somehow demonstrate that we still have them, others have gone straight to the donate box. I recently saw a post from someone I follow, Dork Daddy, along this vein. This post haunts me 2 days later: http://dorkdaddy.com/2012/12/20/the-xmas-i-nearly-7-myself/ I can’t shake his story/imagery. He handled his situation so much more calmly –outwardly – than I would have. Seriously, this guy is my hero.
In the spirit of Xmas, we got a gift from another relative who was very very excited about it. I was instructed that once it arrived, we should let her open it ASAP so that she could enjoy it throughout the season. Fine. I didn’t know that in that box was something from hell. It seems innocent enough at first: A stuffed bear that is holding another tiny bear on his lap and a large green “book” in front of him/them. I was told that it read The Night Before Xmas. That’s cute, right? I wasn’t warned that A) the damn thing MOVES. Its body jerks back and forth like an epileptic Ray Charles while its lower jaw flaps like a hummingbird’s wing. B) It not only reads the story, it performs a skit. The tiny bear is really its “kid” asking for a story. Only due to the huge green felt book, you can’t see the other participant. Hence, it’s like the big bear has multiple personalities in there. It’s disturbing. C) It reads the whole. Damn. Story. Slowly. And with the “acting” and extraneous dialog, the entire performance takes about 13 minutes. I have dubbed this thing Beelzebear. It’s already gone to live in the closet until I can find a better, more deserving home for it. I’m thinking the Angola prison’s “murderer and rapist” ward may win. Before you think me quite the Xmas bitch, do know that I took loads of video of my kid with this thing and sent it to the people who gave it to her. They were delighted with that. They don’t need to know what happens next.
So I do ask you parents out there: Any helpful hints or super-creative solutions?? And may you avoid your own holiday Beelzebears out there.