she has fallen and now she is awake

Parenting and presents

I have been somewhat prescriptive on presents before*. I have views. I also hate shopping and consumerism so I tend to prefer not giving or receiving presents where I can – I am comfortably middle-class enough that I want for nothing really, and what I do want is not an appropriate gift from my fellow middle-class inhabitants. So I’d much rather avoid that whole thing. Christmas, in the style of my family and my inlaws, does not allow for this. So we scaled back this year – one present, unless you were a child. Then you got two. The same for all of them. We got more for Bunbun but most of those were things we’d been meaning to pick up, rather than actual presents (i.e. the ubiquitous foldout couch).

So Christmas is fraught with anxiety for me – both the buying and the receiving of gifts. I sometimes find the perfect thing but mostly it’s this endless search for anything, something, to buy in order to wrap and sit under a meaningless tree in order to participate in obnoxious rituals that don’t have any significance beyond the purchasing and unwrapping.

Then there is the politics of it.

No matter how much I may disagree with someone’s politics or views, or methods, I do not buy a gift in order to either poke fun at those views, or undermine those principals. But the wider community seems to think it’s perfectly okay! It’s so fucking funny to buy my daughter obnoxiously gendered stuff because I don’t like it. So hilarious. Never mind she already has a pram, she obviously needs a massive pink leopard print one with a bassinette attachment. Never mind that I specifically pointed to a style of tricycle when asked about purchasing one, I obviously wanted the pink and purple, badly designed version.

Never mind any of my principals, it’s fucking funny to dismiss them, can’t I take a joke? Can’t I be grateful? They’re just giving her what she wants, all little girls are the same, and if she isn’t, it’s because I’m such a humourless gender-cop that I don’t let her have anything she wants.

Why aren’t I smiling and laughing when being fed this shit?

Here’s the deal – she will be genderpoliced for the rest of her life. In the 18 months she has been with us people have given her dolls, and bears, and blocks, and musical instruments, and playdough. No-one has given her a car. Or a truck (even though that was her second word). No swords or guns or tools. No blue, no green, no black. She is already being gender policed. She is already having her choices artificially narrowed to girl or girl or girlier. She already has her physical expression dominated by clothing choice because the skirts are too narrow or the shorts too short, or the shirts too brief**. Why is it too much to ask family not to participate? Gleefully? Purposefully?

God I hate Christmas. I am fucking glad it’s over, and that Wolfman is talking to the most egregious of offenders, but I would much rather avoid this drama altogether. And if people just gave gifts out of love, not political fucking point scoring and personal oneupsmanship, it’d be a lot more awesome.

*I so wanted to say ‘previously’ instead but it was a little too alliterative.

**I live in Australia, putting a baby in a fucking bikini is awful. Putting girl children in a series of cap sleeve shirts needlessly exposes them to more sun than they need. Not to mention the abbreviated shorts offer NO protection against searingly hot playground equipment.


3 responses to “Parenting and presents

  1. Mistress of Boogie January 16, 2011 at 10:04

    I don’t know why you can’t smile and laugh. S’easy-peasy – just imagine yourself, as your daughter unwraps that crap, writing each of their names at the top of the list of people going up against the wall come the revolution. I’m just glad it ain’t just me ( We should form a club – Mothers Against Presents for Children Bought Purely for the Purpose of Pissing Off Their Mothers. Or something more snappy. Either that or, in the true spirit of giving, give them all gifts back which equally trumpet stereotypes.
    ‘But Aunt Mildred, all 50-odd year old women suffer from occasional incontinence and these are the best pads on the market…’
    ‘But Uncle Joe, all 60-odd year old men have erectile problems and, according to the ads in my inbox, this’ll make it bigger, too…’
    ‘But mum, all stay-at-home empty-nesters have secret alcohol problems…now, are you going to share that bottle of vodka or what? Because I for one would like to celebrate getting all my presents so spot on this year!’

  2. Pingback: The Spirit of Giving « Adventures in Boogieville

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