Posts Tagged ‘children’

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May 21, 2010

Somethimes I think that gifts ought to come with explanatory notes, so you know what the giver had in mind.  (Indeed sometimes they do. I can’t be the first person who’s ever jotted inside a gift card: “I thought you might like this because…”)

I wish there had been such a note on a gift of children’s clothing I received about a year ago, passed on from a friend of a friend, whose children had outgrown the garments.

I was delighted at first, to receive a big box of kids’ clothes.  Yippee, some freebies for my daughter!  But as I began sorting through the items, I became increasingly appalled.  These were terrible clothes!  Although originally of good quality, many of them had stains, buttons missing sometimes, occasionally even rips.  “I’d never give away clothing like this,” I thought.  “Not even to charity.  I’d throw them out, or use them as rags!”

The small pile of “keepers” grew slowly at my side, while the towers of “rejects” loomed like fabric skyscrapers.  Uncharitable thoughts swirled in my head about this slovenly woman who clearly thought it was okay to pass on stained, damaged clothing.  What had she been thinking? 

And there’s the catch.  A year later, I know.

You see, my two year old daughter now attends playcentre three mornings a week.  It’s a messy business: there’s paint, a big sand pit, water play, playdough, baking, and much more.  Her clothes often get filthy.  You don’t want to send your kid to playcentre wearing her regular clothes, believe me.  They’d never look nice again.

That’s when I had that “Aha!” moment, when I realised that all along the clothes had surely been intended for use at daycare / kindergarten / playcentre / messy play at home.  I just didn’t know that at the time!  My daughter was still a baby when I was given the clothing, and wasn’t up to the kind of clothes-wrecking activities that she now delights in.   Now I would loooove to have that big box of third-best clothing, to dress Sammie in on playcentre mornings.

All I can do is make silent apologies for the mean thoughts I’d had a year ago about that anonymous giver.  But I do wish that she’d included a note that said: “This stuff is well used, and is ideal for messy playtimes.”

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Gifts for your kids: avoiding relationship strain

March 27, 2010

Megan of SimpleMom.Net has some excellent practical and thoughtful advice for parents about the gifts their children receive.  It includes suggestions on how to avoid unwanted gifts – like when a well-meaning loved one buys your daughter a (slutty) Bratz doll or your son a (war-glorifying) toy machine gun. 

Related post: Only Hearts Club

Cheap ‘n’ cheerful for children

March 15, 2010

Here’s the cheapest, easiest gift for a toddler aged around 2 years old: stickers.  Yes, bright, shiny, colourful stickers – of animals or flowers or trucks or whatever.  It’s amazing how much joy a little piece of gum-backed printed paper can bring into a small person’s life.  They are simply fascinated with them.

Pack an envelope with them and you’ll have a delighted toddler, and delighted parents – any  gift that makes their kid happy will make them happy too. 

Stickers make a great anytime gift, or can be a supplementary gift to accompany more substantial birthday/Christmas gifts.  Such an easy and simple gift idea, it’s easy to overlook a little cheapie like this.

Sticking to the script: gratitude in 1930s Scotland

February 25, 2010

It was the accepted norm, long ago in my mother’s Scottish hometown, that a housewife could call upon any available child to run an errand on her behalf – such as buying some meat from the butcher’s shop.  Back in those days nobody had refrigerators, so perishable goods had to be purchased on the day of use – hence there was a big demand for kids to run these sorts of errands.

It was normal for children to play in the streets, so all one had to do was open your front door and holler in the direction of the nearest kid:  “Here, you – Jeannie McNabb!  Come you here!”  Then give the child her/his instructions, and money to make the purchase.

When the child returned from the errand, the woman who commissioned it would, by way of thanks, give the child a small coin.  Protocol dictated that the child must strenuously decline this token gift, and only accept it after making repeated earnest refusals. 

The ‘street telegraph’ being what it was, by the time the child went home, his or her mother would know all about the errand they’d run.  She would quiz as to whether any gratuity had been offered, and if so, how vigorously her offspring had attempted to decline it. 

My grandmother’s inquisitions about how strongly her daughter had tried to decline the proffered coin were apparently quite aggressive.  Woe betide any offspring of hers who simply said, “Thank you!” and pocketed the little copper coin! 

What a pantomime this all was!  Yet it was unthinkable for a coin not to be offered in token payment for the child’s services – that was only fair.  Local codes of politeness meant that the child must repeatedly try to refuse the coin (lest they appear needy or greedy) and the adult must urge the child to accept, ultimately succeeding.  Each ‘player’ in the charade had to act according to their required role, in order to fulfil the cultural obligations of reciprocity and courtesy.

Daddy’s little monkey

February 17, 2010

Monkey business: a patterned skirt for a little girl - and a 'play on words' for her parents' amusement

I got this handmade skirt for the 2 year old daughter of a former work colleague of mine, Jon.  Jon liked monkeys, and always had an (amusing, ironic) monkey photo or stuffed toy monkey around. 

So I thought this little skirt, in a monkey-face print, would be great for his daughter’s second birthday this week.  It’s a cute skirt for her, and a tongue-in-cheek joke for her parents. 

Just an example of how nicknames and in-jokes can form a great basis to work a gift around.

Related link: Nicknames – a spin on personalisation

Clucking good puzzle!

January 21, 2010

Ideal puzzle for a 1 to 2 year old child

My toddler daughter received this lovely wooden puzzle from a friend, as a Christmas gift.  It’s ideal because it’s not too complex – only 4 pieces, hardwearing, and the knobs on each puzzle piece make them easy for little hands to hold. 

As a bonus, she loves to clap the egg and wing pieces together, like miniature cymbals!  The two wooden pieces clap together with a most satisfying sound.

I’m also hugely amused at the egg piece, which sits by itself in the puzzle.  Cute!

This makes an ideal gift for any 1 to 2 year old child.  It’s fun and educational.

Wrapping gifts from kids

January 7, 2010

Children's paintings as gift wrap

This year at Christmas, my infant daughter gave – with parental assistance, of course – her grandparents a little gift each (some nice candy).  To wrap the gifts, instead of using normal Christmas gift wrap, I took a different approach.

I used two of the colourful paintings she’d done at Playcentre as gift wrap, and tied the parcels with ribbon in matching colours.  The wrapped gifts looked so unusual and pretty and childish; they were real standouts – far, far better than if we’d taken the normal mainstream approach and used generic Christmas giftwrap.  Plus it’s a great way to re-use some of her (non keeper) paintings, of which we have dozens!

Colourful kids

October 19, 2009

Most kids find gifts of clothing bor-ing!  They’d much rather have toys!  But a personalised item of clothing, well, that’s different  – and Simply Colours has some marvellous ones.

You simply choose a pattern and name/message, using their very user-friendly website – here are some examples.  The prices are reasonable, too, I think.

Growing a magic crystal tree

July 9, 2009

I enjoy buying unusual and unexpected gifts for children.  One of my favourites is kits for growing “crystal trees”.  These consist of cardboard tree shapes, impregnated with chemicals, which – when sprinkled with water – begin a chemical reaction, sprouting foliage-like crystals right before your eyes, over three or so days.  Enchanting and educational, both for children and their parents. 

There are many types on the market, usually available from educational and better-quality toy stores.  They’re not very expensive either, usually $10-$20.

Here’s one available on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobar-Magic-Tree/dp/B000H6W53W