My friends joke that I have an angry alter ego-Geraldine. On the odd occasion when something gets my goat, Geraldine rears her cranky head. She is the reason why I would never be able to run for government. I lose my cool when things are down-right stupid and a politician who loses her cool is, well, not cool. If you work in politics you are surrounded by stupidity, mostly other politicians, so you would be voting for Geraldine and not me.
Last week Geraldine made a rare appearance when I saw on TV gift registries for children’s birthday parties. The footage showed a young girl in a store choosing the things she liked and zapping them with a scanner to assumedly marry up to a list that would be sent with the invites.
Maybe I’m behind the parenting curve, but I’d never heard of it, have certainly never needed it and if I was sent one I’m pretty sure I would boycott the party out of principal. I know it’s standard for wedding invites and now baby showers, and maybe this is a double standard, but I understand that as adults we don’t want two toasters, but kids, sorry, you get what you are given-deal with it. Just like the idea that the party game ‘Pass-the-Parcel’ must now have a gift in every layer to avoid disappointment, it seems now our birthday gifts must be exactly what the child has chosen for the same reason.
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The stupidity of it all is that it screams disappointment.
They go along to a shop, go nuts picking every toy they want and don’t want, spend weeks imagining they will get the lot, only to open a few on their birthday because people have budgets, 10 parties a weekend, and not enough time to buy individual gifts for every kid in the class. Most parents I know make one stop at the toyshop to buy 10 of whatever item their own child loves or would love and pay’s it forward. If the receiver doesn’t love it A) TOO BAD and B) it goes into the original gift registry, the present cupboard in the hallway that emergency gifts emerge from when times are a little tougher than usual or you forget about the party until the morning of.
Whilst the idea of gift registries for kids makes me mad, it also makes me sad. Millie is just getting to the age where she understands the art of gift giving and has even started helping me chose gift’s for her little friend’s. The joy she has both choosing and then giving the gift is THE POINT OF GIFT GIVING. Millie loves it so much now that I only have to mention we are visiting someone and she goes to her room, selects something she already has and offers to wrap it and give it to them because she wants to see the joy that comes with opening a surprise. The surprise is often that it’s a rock, or a feather, or one of her favourites shoes, usually the left shoe, but it doesn’t matter, it’s true, it’s the gift that counts.
I don’t want to take that away from her just yet. Gift registries for kids say to me: ‘You can be my friend, come to my party but if you don’t give me what I want it’s not good enough’. Little friends are not Santa Claus; we shouldn’t force a list on them and if you do, you will find yourself on my naughty list for sure.
Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.
This piece originally ran in Bmag here: