Present Planning

So RR’s birthday is June 25th.  Yay for RR.  Three years old.  Wowza.

My wife and I are some seriously creative people.  Sometimes.  However, this year, we are at a total loss as to what to get RR for her birthday.  If anything.  I KNOW.  We’re awful people.

Hey – there’s this kid in her class who, every fucking day, says to me with great enthusiasm and honesty, “TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!” which it totally isn’t.  Hell, RR just stopped wishing Pop Pop a happy birthday, but that was only because they left town.

There are things that RR likes:  Ice cream.  Olivia.  Alone time.  Pickles.  Pancakes.  Watermelon.  More alone time (GO AWAY, MAMA!  she often says).  Going down concrete stairs unattended and not holding the railing.  Homemade sweet potato fries.  Playing with “her guys” (which is an all-encompassing term for small choke-hazard-worthy figurines) on her small-like-her table.  Running.  Putting inanimate objects to bed.  Watering the plants.  Sleeping.  And most recently, vanilla pudding.

She has lots of books.  She has two bookshelves of toys.  She won’t notice that she has any of these things unless you put them in front of her.  And even then, if she hasn’t initiated playing with them, she’ll kind of fake-play with them for a few minutes.  Like, “Oh mama.  I don’t want to play with this.  But look!  I’m playing!  OK, can I be done now?”  Poor put-upon RR.

She has a hand-me-down easel (chalk on one side, dry-erase on the other), so many blocks of so many sizes, Play-Doh, and Little People (of all kinds) and their abodes.  We thought about a tricycle or a scooter, but we live on a pretty steep hill.  Plus, she’s afraid of falling, and hates even the thought of trying to pedal.  Ugh.  Pedaling.

Which leaves me to ask my co-worker, who recently got her three year son a Braves jersey and hat.  Hmm.  She suggested a bubble machine for RR, and then quickly changed the subject.

She doesn’t play dress-up.  (Shit, we can’t even get her to put her regular clothes on.)  And apparently, she’s too young for us to get her a gift certificate.  Eyeroll.

So, my dear friends, I am tapping you for your expert advice.  What do you give the toddler who wants nothing and shows no preference for anything but being alone.  You know, besides a pancake dinner at the nearby diner with a scoop of ice cream afterwards the evening of her birthday.  But hey – that just might be enough!

Posted on June 3, 2013, in everyday. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. we got our son this for his first birthday (um, almost 8 years ago). Our almost 3 year old and almost 9 year old still play with it regularly.

  2. What’s wrong with a pancake dinner and ice cream? If that makes her happy, go with it! For our son’s first birthday, we took him to iHop for dinner. It rocked his world! 😉

  3. Is your kitchen big enough for a Learning Tower? Ours isn’t, but we have one in there anyway, and the kids love it. They both fit into it and can stand up there to help me cook/bake; eating lunch at the kitchen counter is, for some reason, a special treat.

    I love seeing the pictures that kiddos capture. The difference in perspective from a few feet lower is neat to see. Maybe a digital camera? Either a kid-version like this or a second-hand “grown up” digital camera might be a hit. We got one for Henry on Freecycle a while back; Craig’s List might also have something grown up enough to be exciting, but inexpensive enough to not be a huge investment (because it will, inevitably, be flushed/crushed/smushed).

    I’m partial to a cool kid-sized messenger bag or backpack filled with a themed collection. A sketchbook, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc? A magnifying glass, bug box, and field tools?

    Or maybe just the bag? Lands End has great backpacks that are the right proportions for the preschool set, with patterns that aren’t too “babyish.” This is Eleanor’s:

    My in-laws gave Henry and Eleanor each a toiletries bag a few weeks ago, and Henry nearly lost his mind with excitement. He couldn’t wait to fill it up with travel-sized shampoo, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss (since when does he floss?!). A fully-stocked toiletries kit may sound boring to grown-ups, but for some kids, it might be really exciting.

    And I know you said she isn’t into dress-up, but oh, how I love kids in superhero capes. Personalized capes are even cooler.

  4. I am a big fan of having less stuff (but, you know, moving) so we usually go with the ‘experience’ option. Bug got a bowling trip for Age 4, and the cake he requested (“With a train on top.” “A decoration train?” “No, mama, a real train. I want Gordon [the Imperialist Tank Engine]” Okay, kid.) For Age 3 he got a cake and to play with his tot pals. We should totally do pancake dinner. It would also rock his little world.

    (Bug learned to pedal about six weeks ago, i.e. right at age 4. I thought he’d never learn, seriously. I just kept shoving that tricycle along with a broom…. oof.)

  5. A place for that alone time? Some kind of Wendy House? For the garden or for her bedroom?

  6. I wonder what she would say if you asked her what she wants?

  7. The Bean really does adore his hideous Thomas pop-up tent, very nice for alone time. But also, a special day sounds like a lovely present, in itself. I don’t think the Bean got Christmas presents from us this year — he gets plenty from other people, and gets plenty of things from us at other times. I know this won’t last, so I am soaking it in, I tell you what,

  8. The tent is a good idea. My ex and I went all out when our son turned 2 & bought him 1 of those little bounce houses. Spoil alert though – grown-ups can’t have any fun in that thing. LOL

  9. I like the “special day” idea. We’ve been doing that with my nieces and nephew instead of buying them birthday gifts and they seem to really enjoy it.
    My parents got Tadpole a tricycle like this one: It was great because we could push it before he was able to pedal it. And the grownup can hold the handle to keep it from going too fast down a hill! At 4 1/2 he still loves it (but Mr Independent gets very indignant if we so much as touch the handle these days…)

  10. I believe my oldest boy got this for a birthday or Christmas one year, and it is still very popular. They like to hide in it and roll around the floor (it has a few rips, but still functions).

    Also, it folds down to nothing when it needs to be put away.

    But! I think it’s perfectly appropriate to just have a special day, and not fill your house with more stuff.

  11. I was also thinking about pop-up tents… Critter has an IKEA one that we got him for Christmas, and he loves that thing. RR could also use it for alone time, which she might appreciate. Does she like to help with gardening? Critter has a junior gardening set (with functional tools) that my parents got him, and he enjoys. The kid loves dirt. For that matter, I think we could just give him a box of dirt, rocks, and sticks, and he would think it was the Best. Present. Ever. Paints? Stickers? Also, I maybe shouldn’t admit this, but Critter *loves* candles. He’s pretty good at the concept of “look but don’t touch” (at least with hot things), and we try to keep them mostly out of reach anyway, and he’s years away from lighting them, but… His stocking had a few small candles in it, let’s just say. He loves to watch us light them, and watch them burn, and blow them out.

    Or just a fun experience day. I think that would be fine too.

  12. I second all the pop-up tent suggestions. We got one that hangs from the ceiling for our gal around that age (okay, cheap overachievers that we are, we made it ourselves using a hula hoop and some fabric) and 8 years later, she still hangs out in it. At this point, I’m pretty sure it’s going to college with her.

    It’s something along these lines:

    And yes, that price tag is exactly why we made it ourselves, although knowing how much use she’s gotten out of it? I might spring for one today.

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