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19 December 2011 @ 01:36 pm
Holiday Hamster Wheel (With Bonus Parental Fail!)  
I'm in the usual mad Xmas rush, shopping for presents, doing the holiday baking, and trying to get everything ready for Christmas. I spent painful hours trying to find things for my sister and Lauren. If only someone hadn't stolen that desktop fountain from me at the White Elephant office exchange! (Though I stole it from someone else, first) Lauren wanted one of those, and I can't seem to find a decent, affordable one now. :(

We've decided not to drive up to Oregon this year, for the first time ever, but this means that I need to package and ship presents. Never done this before, with the holiday cookies and such. I... think those Xmas packages are going to be late.

I'm also peeking through Pinch Hit notifications for Yuletide, in my ongoing Pay-It-Forward effort. The only year I did Yuletide for real, my prompts apparently wound up on that list. The "real" story someone wrote for me was okay, but the two Yuletide Madness stories were fantastic! I know better than to commit to doing a real story, but I try to bring some joy via the Madness. Last year, the recipient didn't much like the one "extra" I'd intended to write for weeks, but the two last-minute unplanned fics were very happily received, and that's the whole point. I'm saving my list of potentials, and seeing what happens...

I'm not getting a lot of stories out these days, other than the Real LJ Idol offerings. My current story is barely surviving in the voting, so if you like it, please help out!

And the parental fail (you must be wondering)... *sigh* Over the years, I've dropped the ball several times with my son, Christopher, always over the same basic issue. Christopher is always a few years behind most kids in the phases of "stuffed animal love." When he was five, I said that Hedgie was not so much of a Beanie Baby as a 'bean-bag toy.' That hurt Christopher's feelings, because he still thought Hedgie was real.

This summer, after my 14-year-old daughter cleared out and donated the bulk of her stuffed animals, Christopher thought he might be ready to do the same. Instead, he got out several bins' worth of animals, and realized he'd boxed them away unloved for several years, and even separated babies from their parents. Tears, remorse, and now all (ALL) 100 or so stuffed animals are out in his room. o_O

Last week, I asked him if he thought we could give his little cousin the reserve-Hedgie we'd been saving (in case Hedgie got lost). Christopher did not know there was a reserve-Hedgie. He was horrified that we'd kept that little hedgehog in a box for seven years, alone and unloved. Here's where I have to admit that, as an adult, I didn't even anticipate that way of viewing the situation, especially since my son is now twelve. Argh. Christopher spent the rest of the evening tormenting himself over whether to give reserve-Hedgie away (what if his cousin didn't love it enough?!?) or to keep him (knowing that his own time to love his toys is very limited), and mostly lamenting the Seven.Years.In.A.Box.

He's clearly aware that he'll reach a point where he's stop feeling like his toys miss him or aren't getting enough love, and yet at the same time he knows he's not there yet.

So, reserve-Hedgie wound up joining the Hedgie family in Christopher's bed: Daddy, Mama, Baby, Brother, Sister, Cousin, and the adoptees (Happy Hippo, Owlbert, and Snorty the warthog). When I went up to say goodnight, Christopher was introducing Twin Hedgie to the rest of the family. Now, I'm apparently making a fleece sleeping bag for Twin Hedgie (because Hedgie has one).

If I'd known it would have caused him so much grief, I never would have mentioned reserve-Hedgie! But worse yet, I somehow feel like I should have known where this would lead, and yet I totally didn't. FAIL.

But I can't linger on that too long, because I have things to wrap and package and mail, a needlepoint picture to finish for my sister, and actual office work to do.

Is everyone else mostly surviving? I haven't checked my f-list in almost a week, which is another huge area in which I'm failing. :(

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MacByrnemacbyrne on December 19th, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
I read this, and god forgive me, I laughed out loud. Because I feel for you (and your son)! I'm 36, and I STILL worry about my stuffed animals feeling unloved or unwanted. Granted, it's in a dark little corner of my mind that I don't visit very often, but I worry. :D

I was the same way when I was little. I even worried about my stuffed animals smothering if they were under the blankets on my bed. I was convinced they came to life when I was out of the room, and used to present 'evidence' to my parents all the time that they had been moving around.

For what it's worth, I don't think you have any fail here at all. And I think it's absolutely precious that a) there was a reserve!Hedgie, and b) now that he's been released, he's reunited with his twin and adopted family.

I'm feeling an urge to go cuddle my stuffed lamb, Lambie, and let him know he's still appreciated, but will womanfully resist. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: weechestershalfshellvenus on December 20th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
Someone understands, even from the opposite side of the issue! \o/

My daughter used to leave an agenda for her animals when we went on vacation, and would rotate who was "in charge" and also who got to come along on the trip.

My niece finally asked everyone to stop giving her stuffed animals (at age 8), because she was afraid she couldn't love them all they way they needed.

For my son, we just tell him he'll be ready when he's ready, and there's no rush. This is such an indicator of his empathy, and that's a wonderful trait (though sometimes self-punishing!).

And I think it's absolutely precious that a) there was a reserve!Hedgie, and b) now that he's been released, he's reunited with his twin and adopted family.
:D He's almost as cute as the real Hedgie, and only slightly larger. Same vintage, but slightly more filled-out face and nose/etc. Hedgie is truly the cutest stuffed-animal hedgehog I've ever seen, down to his little pointy, crooked noise, his flippy little ears, and his smile. There's a whole pic-spam post on that history here, which I'm sure would resonate with you!

I once had a Lambie-- a musical Lambie with long leather eyelashes that I adored. And an Eeyore. And Christopher has my Cinnamon Bear (cinnamon-colored corduroy, made by my grandmother).

Thanks for the kind commiserations! ♥

Edited at 2011-12-20 01:31 am (UTC)
Gretagretazreta on December 20th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
I love Christopher, I think he's going to grow up to be a poet, a gentleman, and a really well-evolved person. You = parental win.
This kind of reminds me of some Simpson's horror episode where Bart has an evil twin living in the attic (only actually it's the good twin, as Bart is evil, natch). TWIN HEDGIE! I love that you had one. I love that he's now joined the family.

Also, have you seen Toy Story 3? It's a lovely film, but actually quite disturbing on a toy-empathy level.
And... I'm mostly surviving. WHAT A YEAR. Everyone is quite filled with holiday spirit because of the idea that it might be over soon!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: weechestershalfshellvenus on December 20th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
He's a very unusual child, that's for sure! He and his sister are both very sweet, but in different ways, and his sister is now in the "I'm a teenager, and I'm too cool to be sweet" phase. Boo. So I'll take what I can get. :D

I love the idea of Secret Twin Bart in the attic! And that of course, he would be a Flanders' son version of Bart instead of evil. ;)

We did see Toy Story 3, and I cried three times. The scene in the furnace-- oh god, too much! It was a really good and very moving story. "Wired" magazine had an article on it, which said that the creators had some completely different idea for the third movie and totally scrapped it in favor of this one. Pathos wins every time, in my book.

I'm glad you're hanging in there. I've sure missed seeing you around, but I know you're stiil probably recovering from the earthquake aftermath and then there's the regular real-life overload, isn't there?

I hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas, and that the coming year is in all ways better than this last one! *hugs and holly sprigs for the house*
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on December 20th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
Stewart still won't part with his wardrobe full of soft toys. It's only recently he stopped taking so many to bed, he still has the favourites in there. I'm not fussed. I know several adults who unashamedly take their toys to bed still.

Christopher sounds like that.

Can you make toys? I have a massive repair job to do and I have no clue.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 21st, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
Well, then, I have a better idea of what to expect for Christopher's future. I see a lot of Stewart in him and vice versa.

I've patched toys, but usually it's when stitching comes loose and such.

I watched your vid, and was in agony for that poor creature. His "skin" looks like it's made of some kind of foamy material that just won't hold up over time. What to do?

You could try to at least replace the belly with something sturdier. It's a solid piece with a not-very-tricky shape. You cut the stitches, remove the cloth and use it as a pattern for the replacement, and then you blindstitch it back in by hand. Do you know how to blindstitch? Because I think you could find a tutorial on that. It's a method of secure stitching where the thread doesn't show.

But the shaped parts of him... *cries* You might be able to replace his limbs and even back, but I don't think you can do anything for the top of his head. Poor little guy. :(
etherealflaim: mooetherealflaim on December 21st, 2011 01:21 am (UTC)
Trying to predict children is more difficult than predicting earthquakes ;-). Trying to understand them as an adult, despite having been there ourselves, requires years and years of training...

I'm lucky in that my family members (and local friends) aren't big on the gift giving aspect of Christmas, which basically turns into an exchange of low-value gift cards, so the season isn't a particularly stressful one.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 21st, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
Trying to understand them as an adult, despite having been there ourselves, requires years and years of training...
I think that's true-- we've only ever been "us" and only ever seen the people we already know. A child is always entering "new" territory with every moment, and each does it his or her own way.

I'm much more sentimental now than I used to be. I don't have any of my childhood toys now except for Cinnamon Bear (now Christopher's), partly because they didn't hold up all that well, but also because I'd given away everyone but Eeyore and that bear back when I was a kid.

My sister, on the other hand... when my Eeyore and her Bundy (bunny) got worn out, my mother made replacements and cannibalized the eyes/ear-lining. For my sister, that was the most horrifying thing ever (and I can sort of see why-- she was only 4 or 5). All that was left of Bundy 1.0 was a head with a nose, which she kept and still has. Creepy. The rest of us were insensitive, and used to play keepaway with it and toss it around like a football.

So, Christopher's feelings about his animals might very well go to that depth, which was very different from mine!

For Xmas gifts, we do gifts for the kids until they go to college (so, 2 nieces and a nephew left now), and I give presents to my one childless sister. The other sibs and I don't do "real" gifts (just the wine and cookies, which leads to massive baking), and my parents are hit-or-miss (though I feel bad when I have nothing "tangible" to give them).

I prefer the getting together aspect of Christmas, and I love giving gifts to little kids. But to people who don't need or want anything? It's a nightmare.
etherealflaimetherealflaim on December 21st, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
I prefer the getting together aspect of Christmas, and I love giving gifts to little kids.
Yep. I'm with you there. At this point, though, everyone in my family is college-aged or above. Wow, how time flies!

But to people who don't need or want anything? It's a nightmare.

I totally agree, but I am also that person... I pretty much buy anything I need right away, and don't really have a lot that I want. Gift cards end up being the best thing, because they last until I do end up going on another novel purchasing spree or I need a pair of replacement jeans :).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 21st, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
I've just gotten to that point in life where I don't "need" much, because I'm lucky enough to have a steady income and a few luxuries, and the "stuffness" just doesn't matter.

I mean, we have one of the smaller TVs of the current age, but so what? We choose not to have cable, and my daughter is the only one with a Smartphone because the service is freakin' expensive, but it matters to her and her peer group.

My peer group? I don't really much care what they think. ;)

I'm a Target kind of person, too, when it comes to shopping, so there's also that. I have two S-I-Ls who love Macy's, and I hate that store, so we're coming from different planets on that front. ;)