Some years I feel Christmas, some years I don't. Last year I was all about Christmas. I did the whole shebang; family, tree, gifts, food, all of it. We all had fun even if I did have to drag The Boys through some of it. This year, I'm not feeling it. The stores already have their lights up and music on, and the store aisles at Kohl's were already jammed with the random flotsam that people buy you when they have no clue what to get for you. Emergency radios, foot baths, shit like that. I'm dragging my own ass through it.
We had gone to buy shoes. Stitch goes through shoes at an unbelievable clip. It's not that he outgrows them, he destroys them. His current record for a pair of shoes is three months, and those guys were ragged pauper shoes with the soles flopping off at the end of their lives. Either Stitch is the only kid who runs, walks, jumps and exercises regularly, or kid's shoes are the biggest scam on earth. Anyhow, we bought a pair of Sensible Brown Shoes, and Stitch was already hard at work on their eventual destruction through the mall. (Running, skidding to a stop, waltz jumping, spinning, etc. I find it disconcerting that my kid's skate boots look like formalwear in comparison to his day shoes.)
Of course there is a toy store, recently set up just for the holiday season. We stopped in. Stitch and I wandered the selection, and I was horrified. Piles and piles of cheap plastic crap with no rhyme, reason or purpose. I'm a button pusher, so I pushed a button on a cheap robot toy. It began yelling something about ray guns in mangled English, and Stitch skittered away. There is a fake guitar, and it plays "music" when you "play it" so you can be an "instant rock star." Wow, what a concept. Instant Rock Star. There were smaller and faker versions of "sports balls." I was tempted to get a pic of that one and send it to Dad. Stuffed toys that looked deranged, Nerf Guns that are pointless to buy in Winter, and all of it something I could easily see being discarded in twenty minutes.
The best was the "kid's roller skates." I stopped and stared at that one for awhile. They were marked "6+", so they were meant for a kid Stitch's age. They were tri-wheeled moonboots meant to go over existing shoes, and the label advertised three "settings." Stage 1: Lock one wheel in place. (Cripple the movement) Stage 2: Forward Only. (Screw up their body mechanics.) Stage 3: Forward and Back. (Even if the kid or skates lasts long enough to get to this stage, no one is going backward in those.) The kid on the box was trussed up in full-on safety gear; helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and nearby adult holding on. I thought about this, and I thought about the morning's Waltz Jump first attempt. I thought about Stitch's backwards hops on ice, and his galloping act. I thought about Coach, who isn't holding on as much as she used to.
I looked around me, and I was suddenly jarred by the realization: what bothered me was that it was all fakery. Fake cooking sets, fake musical instruments, fake vacuums, fake costumes, and fake skates.Why are parents letting their kids be fake? The whole world is out there, let them have it. Why buy a fake cooking set, let them cook. Stitch knows the basics of banana bread and can make himself a baked potato in the microwave. Why a fake musical instrument? Small guitars are inexpensive, good enough to learn on and lessons are cheap from starving musicians. Why fake costumes? Give them a real opportunity to costume up! Why fake skates? Skating is awesome!
Stitch held up a small ball, and began to whine. Funny that in a store full of the latest kid's noisy gadgetry, he wanted a ball. But I have a policy that whining gets you nowhere, so we left in short order.
Stitch's holiday list is full of science kits and ransom electrical parts from American Science and Surplus. I have no issue with this. In fact, I'm proud as hell. I can't wait to see the look on Santa's face when he asks for an ant farm, motors and LED's. I'm going to ask Coach if a Spin trainer would be a good purchase, and stick that in his stocking. But his holiday gifts will be real. I refuse to let my kid be fake.
Today I have to get the Thanksgiving food in order, sharpen skates, and make a stop at a friend's house where she is holding my "scrap" of dance floor. I asked one of my colleagues if he had any dance floor scraps they might be tossing out, and if I could have one. Of course he said yes, so now Stitch doesn't have to do stretches or floorwork on cement anymore. (A "scrap" of dance floor is 3' x 6'.) I'm also going to sew and start work on the coach's gifts for the Ice Show. In other words, a busy day.