POST: Nightmare Parents Write Letter About Baby’s Nightmare Birthday Party

Ah, interwebs… You never cease to entertain me.

The other day I was mindlessly trolling Feedly, when I came across this post from Jezebel:

Nightmare Parents Write Letter about Baby’s Nightmare Birthday Party

I clicked on the link, and prepared myself for feeling morally superior in every way. And then… not so much.

You see, the Nightmare Parents in question have sent an email out to everyone invited to their child’s birthday party with very specific instructions for gift giving. There are only four items on the list. That’s it. Only four, and pleas not to deviate from this list in any way, shape, or form. Other highlights include:

On straying from the list:

If you are unable to get these items, please let us know so that we can buy them right away for him.

It should be noted that none of the requested presents are imminently life saving. We’re talking about a water table or a play tent here. Where is the urgency, I wonder?

On including receipts with presents not on the list:

When we return items without receipts, we only get about 50% of the value, so it is like throwing away money if you don’t include the receipt with the gifts.

Most people harbor the illusion that their gifts are so fabulous, returns will be unwarranted. No one buys a present and thinks “I’m so happy I’m going to be throwing away money on this present for XXX!”

On encouraging literacy:

We suggest no more books beyond the Cheerios one cited above. Right now, XXX has 32 board books on his shelf, and 25 additional books waiting for him in storage.

The book nerd in me thinks 32 isn’t enough, but we all have our preferences.

On permission to buy anything else than what is on the list, just in case you were thinking about it:

Please let us know if you have any questions about any items not on this list that you are considering purchasing, and we can let you know if we already have it or if is in storage waiting for him.

Noted. Do not stray from the list. This couple has a magical, never-ending storage facility somewhere that produces age appropriate toys upon request.

As much as I think this is nutty, I also saw a wee bit of myself in this– particularly after creating the registry this weekend. There is just enough pragmatism to this that I can see how they justified it. I mean, I get the impulse. If people are going to be spending the money on you, you might as well get what you think you need, right? I would be lying if I said I didn’t think some of these exact same thoughts. The only difference is that this couple had the balls to write it down and hit send.

Lost in all this, of course, is the very purpose of gift giving. It is meant to honor the person receiving it as an expression of love from the person giving the actual present. On a large scale, none of this is really about the accumulation of things. It is about showing support. It is about caring. Ultimately, who the hell cares if this couple gets a 33rd book (NOT THE CHEERIOS ONE!) if it comes from a place of enthusiasm for the future happiness of their kid?

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Dominating the Baby Registry

I am a champion. CHAMPION.

After weeks of putting it off, I finally tackled and defeated my mother-fricking registry this weekend. This two day tour de force was a group effort, mostly thanks to my friend Sparrow.

Some of you may recall my recent freak out at a local mega baby store. Given that I’d like to avoid a police record before my child is born, I decided that doing this online with a similarly pragmatic mom would be a better alternative. So I parked my butt on Sparrow’s couch on Saturday, and we got down to work. After a few hours, I had narrowed down to the things I *think* I need.

Sparrow was sooooo helpful in large part because she gets where I’m at. I don’t want a whole lot of stuff, I just want things I’m actually going to use. My goal is safety and sanity. That’s it. At no point did she imply I would be a terrible mother if I didn’t get something. It was the exact opposite of Mega Store David.

Armed with Sparrow’s advice, I set down to actually create the registry on Sunday morning. I chose to work from Baby List, which I’ll wax on poetically about in a few minutes. Though this site was really easy to use, the actual decision making wasn’t so straightforward. All of a sudden, I was faced with two frustrating realities.

  1. Gender neutral stuff is reeeaaallly hard to find. Let’s say that you’re searching for onesies. If you’re on Target, your first result set will turn up 65+ options. If you narrow it down to neutral, you get 10 at best. I would find a bib or footie pajama that I liked, and it would be coupled within the boy/girl set encouraging Chick to be either a truck driver or a princess. (Though I would gladly welcome clothing that encouraged all children to become truck driving princesses…)
  2. There are some truly ugly things for babies out there. Like, sweet baby Jesus wouldn’t even be caught dead in some of this stuff and he was born homeless in a barn. This realization lead me to freak out about anyone else buying bedding items, which I broke down and bought myself on Zulily. (Why bedding? I have no idea. Blame the baby hormones.)

I settled in for the registry building at around 10:30. I wasn’t done until 1:30. THREE HOURS LATER. After I was done, I brought in Mr. O to see what I had done. In 5 minutes, he declared it good enough, and shuffled out of the room to resume cleaning of our office/soon-to-be nursery.

In some ways, I’m fortunate because I’ve gotten a ton of stuff from friends and co-workers. Thanks to them, a lot of the big ticket items have either been donated or are “spoken for.” Even so, when I calculated everything on my list, the grand total in gifts comes to $1,314. Yes, babies are expensive.

All in all, this process was still fairly overwhelming to me. When it comes to subjective things like clothes, blankets, sheets, etc., I realized even with my meticulous selections, people will buy whatever the hell they want. It sounds ungrateful of me to be critical of people who just want to give me and Chick presents, but… this is more than just aesthetics for me. It boils down to my own philosophy of parenting, which is to allow Chick to become whoever he or she wants to be. My job is to provide as blank a canvas as possible. That is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

But before I sign off, get ready for a little product promotion… I am absolutely in love with Baby List. It will aggregate all your registries into one list, and allow people to shop from a number of online stores. It also has space for you to ask for non-monetary gifts, like home-cooked meals and baby sitting.

My favorite part is that they will generate a personalized checklist based on answers to a survey, including questions like

What’s your shopping strategy? (My answer “Go thrifty or go home!)

Which celeb most personifies your approach to baby planning? (I went with “Beyonce, a busy mama on a mission.”)

It was helpful to do this after I created the list so I could double check to see if I had missed anything.

So all you mamas-to-be, good night and good luck on those registries.

On Rage and Jogging Strollers

Thanks to all for your support and validation over the drama with Mr. O’s ‘rents. No, they have not called or written, despite both Mr. O and my reaching out to them over phone and email. It blows my mind, really…

But as I’ve discovered, pregnancy waits for no one. Not funerals, not adult temper tantrums. So we move on.

I’m not really a “stuff” kind of girl in general, but apparently babies are. Though tiny, they come with an entourage of monitors, breast pumps, bassinets and strollers. In an effort to get a lay of the land, Mr. O and I went to a baby mega store. It was purely a fact-finding expedition… that went heinously ary.

I’ve been mostly fixated on the stroller. There are just so many different options, and with them so many different opinions. People seem to be extremely passionate about their strollers too– they either love them or loathe them. I have two primary criteria: I want a stroller I could take for walks/runs in the park, and something that wouldn’t take up a ton of space. I live in a two bedroom apartment in a city– space is limited, and walking is a way of life.

I had done some research, and narrowed down to a few options. On this ill-fated day, I was focusing on the Baby Jogger City GT. From most reviews I’ve read, people really like it. I’ve seen several people in the park jogging with them and had actual humans tell me they loved it for jogging. The odd part is that this is technically not a jogging stroller, according to the manufacturer.

As Mr. O and I were milling around the stroller section, we were approached by a sales associate named David. Note: I hate shopping. In particular, I hate sales associates who talk to me while I’m shopping. I know this is strange, but whatever. It’s my thing.

So David comes up, asks if he can help. I say I’m all set. He lurks around, sees me looking at the Baby Jogger City GT, and inserts himself into a conversation I’m having with Mr. O.

“So what kind of stroller are you looking for?”

[Said while glaring] “We’re looking at something we could take for short walks or runs, and won’t take up a lot of space.”

[Said while pointing to a bank of strollers that are $150-$200 more than what I am looking at.] “Oh, you’re looking at the wrong stroller then. You want to check out those over there, because this is NOT a jogging stroller.”

“We did look at them, but they are too big for our apartment. We can’t get something that bulky.”

“They aren’t as big as you think. You can dismantle them, and put it away really easily.”

“I don’t want to deal with dismantling the stroller every time I bring it inside.”

“But these strollers are made for jogging. The one you’re looking at isn’t.”

“Look, I know you can’t tell me that these are good for running because the manufacturer says this isn’t a jogging stroller. I get that. But I’ve seen people running with this exact stroller…”

[Cutting me off] “Well, I promise you they were regretting every step.”

At this point, a white-hot rage ran through my body. Either I was walking away from this conversation, or I was going to end up arrested for assault. I have never wanted to punch another human being more in my life.

Me in a Baby Stuff Mega Store

Me in a Baby Stuff Mega Store

So I left mid-sentence and refused to go back to the stroller section. Very mature, I know.

After I calmed down a little bit, we went over to the bassinet section. I specifically wanted to check out co-sleepers to see what the hell they are. I’ve heard these can be handy, especially early on. While we’re looking at them, a sales associate comes over and starts talking about the latest and greatest in co-sleeper innovations. The one I’m looking at, it seems, is simply not as convenient for the baby. She recommends this one over here… which is $100 more than the one I’m looking at. Again, I had to back away slowly.

I was so mother-f*cking annoyed with everyone at this point. As if baby stuff isn’t inanely expensive to begin with, every single person in this store was ready to tell that I will regret my life choices if I don’t upgrade. I had to leave the store and spew expletives the entire way home.

One of the delightful side effects of pregnancy for me has been an incredibly short fuse. I’m not really an angry person, and Ithink I do a decent job of keeping fits of rage within legally acceptable ranges. However, in the past few weeks, I have gone from “Zero” to “Flames Shooting from My Eyeballs” in seconds.

For now, I will stay far away from mega stores. I have also enlisted the help of my friends and family for items that they actually used. The goal is safety and sanity, not just spendy.