Birthday gift dilemmas

For the past decade this time of year has filled me with dread, frantically searching the web, consulting family members and friends opinions as it being the month of my niece’s birthday and need to find a gift.  This year is double the angst as my younger sister selfishly gave birth to her first child a year ago, my brother was fairly easy-going with his daughter, but my sister being a teacher by profession is very demanding and her finger is on the pulse with what kids want these days, god forbid I buy something which doesn’t meet her critical approval.

My first thought was to just buy the same things I bought for my niece many years ago, but like elephants bossy sisters don’t forget and would be furious if I took the easy road and didn’t put as much thought into gifts as my other niece had.   I don’t have kids so it is alien territory for me,  I try to make comparisons with amusing things my niece does by saying my cat does the same thing but she doesn’t appreciate the analogy.

My first port of call is The Early Learning Centre, no better place to go to make you feel like a social leper, everyone suspicious of what business a 35-year-old man has in a kids store on his own, I’m tripping as they ride around on tricycles crashing into my ankles, every member of staff  alert to any potential threat is on me like a shot, following me around under the watchful eyes of all the mothers.   They try to entice you into a conversation, maybe they are sensing I am uncomfortable and are simply reassuring me but nonetheless make me feel worse, I turn the conversation to the weather – if you ever want to distract someone in England then talk about the weather. 

I have an idea for them going forward, if you go to a fancy restaurant and forget a tie they will loan you one, maybe they should loan children to accompany you into the store,  there are child labour laws though but a dwarf would suffice.

If buying toys is not traumatic enough, my first niece has reached the age when she is obsessed by fashion so I have to take her shopping, she ran around the department store trying on over 30 outfits, everyone thought I was her father and I was met with occasional flirting from mothers thinking I was a single dad and coping admirably with this hyper child.  I did quite a fatherly job in relaying the value of money by telling my niece she couldn’t actually have all 30 outfits, much to her disappointment. 

Wasn’t it great before they became susceptible to advertising and peer pressure and needed the latest things, when punching holes in a paper tablecloth was entertainment enough……. (don’t worry the wine wasn’t hers!)

My sister just phoned me this morning as they had opened her daughters gifts who in turn cast them aside in favour of her old toys…so hard to please even at that age.  I told her I empathized, I buy all the cat toys in the world but she’s happiest with a cardboard box…the phone fell silent.

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  1. they always love the box best….

    • She’s obessed by bags too, you leave a plastic supermarket bag down and she sits on it, a guest leaves a bag open and she crawls inside. She tried this with a market research lady who came round once, she tried getting in her handbag much to her annoyance. Same lady now regrets sellotaping a pen on a string dangling from her workbook, one sight of that dangling from her lap and my cat launched and her, her nails dragging a ladder in her tights.

  2. make an interesting reading , bring smile to the face!!

  3. My toy poodle is constantly into burrowing as well, bags, blankets, pillows; it’s like shes on a determined archeological dig.

  4. Gift buying is so tough sometimes!! Especially at Christmas when you have to buy gifts for people you hardly know. ugh.

    • I usually throw money at my sister to do it for me, but being her kid I had to think for myself. She ended up loving them, althoguh it was dodgy when my sisters friends bought more expensive lavish gifts but as they were being opened my sister inadvertently hit her baby on the head with it, she’ll hate the gift from now on and prefer mine 🙂

  5. Little Skew

     /  September 1, 2011

    My cat won’t play with anything in front of people; I think she see’s herself as too much of a ‘lady’… you often hear her racing around after a toy mouse or a piece of paper but you never see her in action… one day I’ll catch her

    • What else does she get up to when you’re not looking? I popped to dentist one morning and came back before goign to work and the look on my cat’s face was priceless. I’d ruined all her plans for the day obviously

      • Little Skew

         /  September 1, 2011

        Probably a box/plastic bag fueled party with the other cats in the neighbour hood? When I’m not around it’s probably lessons in etiquette or she just slobs it out, burps, farts, gets it all out of her system while she can.

        She has a cat litter tray in a box with a cat flap (so there is no mess when she digs about in there), one day after I cleaned it I forgot to put the lid on, I walked passed later and she was in there going about her business, she looked up at me and I swear her eyes were screaming ‘DON’T LOOK AT ME’


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