All I Want For Christmas is Two Aspirin and a Shot of Tequila

This year is my first official foray into Christmas shopping for Isabella. At this time last year she was four months old. I ordered her a floor gym online and called it a day, and frankly she would have been just as entertained by a ball of lint from my coat pocket.

Her interests have advanced a bit in the last 12 months, and while I still think I could get away with delivering her hours of fun on Christmas morning by wrapping an empty box in colorful paper, I was (momentarily) excited about the prospect of picking out a few toys to stash under the tree. Although she's at least a year or two away from really understanding the true meaning of Christmas commercialism, I mean, Christmas spirit, most parents like to see joy on their kids' faces when they open up a present they really like.

So last week, while my great aunt was babysitting Isabella, I went to a large big box toy store (I'm sure you can figure out which one I visited). I was jazzed as I headed into the store, actually. It was the middle of a weekday. The store wasn't crowded. And I had almost an hour to myself. Which is rare. Very, very rare. I planned to pick up just a few toys for Isabella. (I stashed away a few of her unopened birthday presents to give her for Christmas because she received so many.)

Then I walked in, grabbed a cart, and started to stroll through the aisles. My excitement quickly fizzled out. I was completely and totally overwhelmed. Isabella is only 15 months old. She doesn't have any true favorite pastimes yet, unless you count examining belly buttons and undressing herself in the car during Every.Single.Trip, and the store didn't seem to carry toys to cater to either of those. She also still sticks just about everything in her mouth, which makes many, many toys choking hazards. And while I researched* some age-appropriate toys online before I left, the store didn't carry many of the ones I wanted to check out.

So I wandered. I paced. I picked up random toys to examine them in all their plastic glory, and became panicked at the thought of inadvertently buying one laced with lead paint or GHB or crack, or whatever it is so many toys are contaminated with these days.

I didn't understand what would make many of the toys I saw for her age group fun or interesting. Most days, I don't have the mental capacity of a toddler, so I found it really hard to put myself in her shoes and guess as to what she might like. Would she find the bus with the little people passengers a blast or boring? What about the farm animal magnet set? Would she play with it for five minutes and then forget about it?

I did end up with a few things. Among them, I bought her these, because they looked like they'd inspire creativity and I got this because she's all about the animal sounds these days. I plan on getting a few more things online at ebeanstalk.com (thank you, Melissa, for this recommendation!).

While I'm completely inept at selecting toys, books are another story. Shopping for books is familiar and much-loved territory for me, so once I had finished with the toys, I headed over to the bookshelves, and immediately relaxed. I bought her this one, because the illustrations were beautiful. Then I found one of my favorite children's book authors, and bought this book, which will likely end up as her most favorite gift of the season yet.

One final observation about shopping in this particular store. Once Isabella hits about three years old, it's spelled out in black-and-white (or rather pink and blue) in exactly which aisles of the store her mother ought to shop for her. If ever there was doubt as to childhood gender role indoctrination using colors, toy shopping will clear it all up for you. Shopping for a girl? Look for the aisles festooned in pink located in the front of the store. Picking up toys for a boy? You'll find aisles and aisles of blue (and black) fun located just beyond the pink aisles. There was actually a section of the store with a sign reading "Little Mommy" hanging over it, underneath which were baby dolls and accessories in every shade of pink you could imagine. And while I want to raise my daughter to be loving and kind and nurturing, and while I don't mind if she plays with (certain) dolls someday, this display irked me. Is it such a novel idea to market gender-neutral toys?

* My recent online research helped me solve my "how in the hell am I supposed to work with a child crawling up my leg all day?" problem. I'm going to move her into one of these! Or maybe I'll leave her in the house, and I'll move into one. Because seriously? These are cool.

5 Responses to “All I Want For Christmas is Two Aspirin and a Shot of Tequila”

  1. # Blogger Lis Garrett

    Love those crooked houses!! I almost bought those same markers for Bridget then figured we have too many regular markers already, thanks to Hannah. Shopping for little ones is difficult. Santa is bringing Bridget a wooden dollhouse and some PlayDoh (which I'm sure will either be eaten or smooshed together by Jacob within the first day). Books are a great choice - kids never get tired of them. I am sure Isabella will love her bellybutton book - how clever!!! If you shop at eBeanstalk, don't forget to use the code WOOLGATHERINGS for a 10% discount.  

  2. # Blogger kenju

    I want the treehouse!!!  

  3. # Blogger Tracey

    Those houses are cool, but did you SEE the prices? Whew...

    Luckily, Isabella is so young that you really CAN wrap up a box for her. Seriously. Give her a big box, some markers and cut out some holes for her. Instant playhouse. Merry Christmas. You could even make it crooked! :)  

  4. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Christmas shopping=Scary. I wish I could fast forward the season...  

  5. # Blogger Marie

    I need to learn to just buy one or two things for my boy. I have bags and bags of things to give him from aunts and grandmas... it's crazy!

    And while there are exceptions, those marketeers seem to know what they're doing with the boy/girl aisles. Mine is sucked to the boy aisles like a magnet. Same with the catalogs we thumb through. We have dolls, but they don't get much play. But he just can't get enough of anything with wheels!  

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