The Birthday Present Conundrum…

We’ve been sitting around shooting ideas into the air, our own interpretation of Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Hugh Pickering dejectedly waiting for Eliza Doolittle to nail “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”  Again!  It hardly seems possible that three fairly-intelligent, fairly-competent, fairly-inventive adults cannot come up with one single, solitary idea that might drum up more than “meh” enthusiasm for J’s birthday.  The dancing girls were ruled out for fear that whatever agency looks after children’s welfare might target us for indecency…and since J cannot drive, any vehicle propelled by anything other than his feet is flat out.

Zumba anyone?  That’s about as exciting an idea as we’ve come up with, and -truthfully- it’s pretty lame.  Yes, he might be into it, but then we’d ALL have to join in and, quite frankly, there are knees in this house old enough to creak when we sit…adding Zumba to them is not advisable.  We DO have the hospital less than two miles away, and the orthopedics department is first-rate, but I’m not in the mood for replacement of any joint, thank you…

We are trying to think of what a seventeen year-old would want.  Our oldest immediately said “a car!”  Yes, of course…NOT HAPPENING!  His next suggestion?  “NOT CLOTHES!”  Yeah, we figured that much out by ourselves, thanks.  There are more “nos” on the list than “maybes.”  There is a definite “yes” on a Lego set, but that’s because it serves a purpose…there are skills to be honed in that present.  This makes the choice a definite “yes” and tremendously “lame.”

When we sat around over pancakes last night (yes, it was Breakfast Night in our household,) we figured that we all wanted money when we were J’s age.  He has a wallet that has been holding the same amount of money since I put it in there six months ago…do we add more to it?  Do we get him a card of the sort that has a peephole so he can see a President’s face peeking at him?  Certainly not a musical card…

We had an acquaintance who, regardless of our ample reminders of J’s hypersensitive hearing, insisted on getting him a musical birthday card every single year.  It didn’t matter how carefully we monitored the situation, she always managed to sneak the card to J when one of us wasn’t there to supervise.  We were usually drawn to the room by sounds that indicated “Animal” from The Muppets and “The Monster” from Young Frankenstein had had a rather rowdy baby and it was screaming and stomping on a musical card that sounded increasingly less musical.  “Oh, he’s so sweet!  Look!  He likes it!,” the clueless female would say while J ran away to the safety of a greeting card-less location.  Whatever money or gift card had been included in the envelope would then become rei non grata and J wouldn’t want it in his wallet.

How wise is it to give “money” to a person who has no concept of its value?  We’ve explained to J, over and over, what money is, how much it can acquire for him, but it’s hard to make this set of ideas stick when money isn’t as valuable as it used to be and it buys less than it formerly did.  Try to explain “oh, look!  It’s on SALE!” to a kid who doesn’t yet have full understanding of the concept of “buying.”  Yes, he knows we don’t walk out of stores without paying, but he thinks it’s because of the loud thing that screeches at the door rather than because it would be wrong to do so…so we can give him money, the likely scenario is that it will sit in his wallet keeping the other money already in there company.

Yes, he has a bank account, and we COULD put the money in there, but how much fun was it when -at seventeen- your parents or grandparents said “here’s some money for your savings account?”  Between that and “here, I bought you some underwear” it’s hard to determine which one was less appealing.

We’d take him to the movies, but Beauty and the Beast has been re-released in 3D for reasons incomprehensible to us. Why everything has to be 3D these days is beyond me.  Yes, there is a market for it out there, but people with disabilities (and their forty-something parents) are sometimes disconcerted by the added accoutrements of 3D.

So we are leaning towards the Zumba for the Wii (along with some calcium pills for the elderly people in the household,) a popcorn machine (because the uncooked rice I spilled on the shag carpeting last week is feeling lonely,) or a waffle maker (because J likes anything having to do with being in the kitchen.)

Teenagers are difficult stuff, aren’t they?  And that’s when they speak and give opinions; imagine what it’s like when they don’t because they can’t!  A stock-market ticket on the forehead would be nice.  A dartboard or a spinning wheel Iwith images of objects that appeal would be, perhaps, helpful.  Nodding or shaking of the head as I mention items would work, maybe?  Interpretive dancing a la Isadora Duncan would be awesome…and entertaining.  Any hint, not reliant on the usual shopping habits of a certain young man who goes by the (abridged) name of J, would be most welcome.

The truth of the matter is that J has become his own person and we’ve been keenly observing this all along, but there are parts of him that he keeps to himself, teasing us with a “wouldn’t you just love to know!” attitude.  I understand how this would be appealing to him because it makes US more entertaining in his eyes.  Admit it: you would think it’s a hoot if I walked around playing Twenty Questions while you smile at me like the Mona Lisa.  That’s what J does…he smiles at me with the benevolent and mysterious smile of Da Vinci’s Gioconda…no wonder he likes that Shawn Colvin song You and the Mona Lisa.  Well, I’ll be darned…

The kid got me…yet again!  😀





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