For a child birthdays are momentous occasions to be marked with as much fanfare as the day will allow and we grandparents just love to add to that fanfare. Birthdays give us the opportunity to roam freely through toy stores, trying out toys under the guise that we are seeking the perfect gift for our grandchild. Our senses become heightened by the multitude of sounds emanating from musical toys, the rainbow of plastics that draw our eyes to each item, the soft squishy feel of the stuffed animals that squeak at our touch, even our sense of smell is aroused by items such as scented markers, stickers and dolls. And, as an added bonus, if your sense of taste feels slighted, there is a candy display en route to the cash register. If I experience a sensory explosion, imagine how young children feel!
This past weekend was my youngest granddaughter’s first birthday and we were fortunate to be a part of it. Thinking about the coming event, I became concerned about how May, who has always been the center of attention, would respond to the gift giving and attention that Eloise would receive.
Initially, I thought to buy them each a present. This way the two sisters would share the special event. Inherently I knew that this was a not the best solution and my very wise daughter bore that out by stating that May would have to learn that birthdays are a very special occasion for the person celebrating them. She steadied my course and suggested that May receive a “special goody bag;” a token that is often given to attendees at kids’ birthday parties. She went on to say that I could add one or two small items to the bag; the operative word being “small.” Thank goodness for parents who restore rational behavior to grandparents.
Almost immediately after our phone conversation, I found my car headed towards Toys “R” Us®, a grandparent’s retreat into childhood. As I scanned the aisles, my eyes caught sight of a Weebles Turn “n”Tumble Home Play Set, equipped with two Weebles, and right next to it, a Weebles Two Pack sold separately. “Wow,” I thought. “The gods of grandparents are with me.” Here I had two perfect gifts, an interactive toy recommended for Eloise’s age group and a small item for May’s goody bag. Eloise and May could share the gift; better still, May could use her Weebles and show Eloise how to play with the toy. As an added bonus, when the girls returned to their own home, they could add Eloise’s Turn ‘n’ Tumble Home Play Set to the preexisting Weebles Musical Treehouse that their grandfather and I purchased for May last Christmas. A Weebles community! How perfect was that?
The day of Eloise’s birthday came and I was up at the crack of dawn in anticipation of the big day. Aunt Jessica was the first to give her gift; a Bouncing Colors Turtle. Eloise sat on it for a few minutes and then went on to play with the box it came in, at which point May jumped onto the turtle and bounced to her heart’s delight. Next came our gift; the gift that her grandfather and I were sure she would love. Eloise could roll the Weebles (after all they wobble but don’t fall down), spin them on the merry-go-round and move her little frame in cadence to the built-in music. What fun! Or so we thought!
Often the vision is more vivid than the reality, as was the case with our choice of toys. Eloise was briefly taken in by the many aspects that the Weebles Home Play Set had to offer, but was more impressed by its colorful packaging which she knocked over and dragged with her as she crept across the living room floor. May, on the other hand, took over Eloise’s vacated space and enjoyed an afternoon of Weebles fun. Parallel play at its best!
As the day progressed with additional presents and cake, I realized my folly in being concerned over how May would react to her sister’s first birthday. Eloise was happy with boxes, paper and ribbons and May was happy playing with Eloise’s gifts. It was a win-win situation. I have to admit that sometimes we grandparents are guilty of putting too much emphasis on trying to keep everyone happy when in reality, if we just go with the flow, things have a way of working out for themselves. Hard to believe, but true!