As we’ve been thinking more intentionally about our growing children’s birthdays, trifles are just that to them. Although they enjoy unwrapping presents, we found that they often sat on the counter where they were unwrapped gathering dust for a week or more.
Don’t get me wrong, they loved unwrapping and squealing at the surprise inside. But the getting was way more fun than the keeping. Especially the responsibility of having. to. put. them. away. (cue torturous sounding GROAN)
So, as Orange parents trying to be tuned into what our kids REALLY want, we put on our thinking caps.
One day when I was wishing I had a third or fourth ear to listen to everyones’ days all at once on the drive home from school (yet another “gift” we give to our children…more on that one later…) I got an idea.
I ran it by Dan who thought about it for a few minutes–just because making it happen x 4 would mean a little bit of planning in advance and definitely some sacrifice on our parts. But in the end we decided it would be oh so worth it.
Our eldest daughter was about to turn 9. One of those “weird” ages…when they’re too old for Barbie, yet too young for things like tattoos or a car. She already has a bike and a scooter, a microphone with a stand and speakers people, about 437 Beanie Boos and an old iPhone that she uses for educational apps at school. What more could this girl want?
This where the plan came into play at just the perfect time. Dan–being the graphic designer–put together an awesome certificate. And not just any certificate…no “free hugs” here, baby!
We weren’t exactly sure how it would go over as we usually wrap the “biggest” or “best” present of the birthday (which is usually from us) in gold wrapping paper. This year, it was gold wrapping paper in the shape of a wonky, origamically challenged envelope…not exactly visually stunning like the large, easy bake oven or Barbie castle boxes of yore.
Our sweet birthday girl opened the envelope as Dan and I held our breath waiting for her reaction.
Granted, she is our drama girl, but her reaction was good. I mean, Oscar nomination good.
She squealed and could NOT stop talking about when we could plan to go, when she could skip school and have us all to herself, where all we could shop and spend her birthday money, where we should go out to eat, what music we would listen to, what she would wear, which Beanie Boo she would bring along with her in which purse. It was game ON, high five, in the bag, best present ever, baby!
Our other kids looked stunned that something in an envelope could be the object of such delight to their sister…and provoke such a sense of envy…they wanted a skip and shop too.
We did the same with our next child’s birthday, our younger daughter. She was in. her. glory. until she had purchased the 3 items she wanted to buy, then she simply wanted to go home, assemble and play with her new toys in our presence with no distractions or need to share our attention with other siblings. So. Relaxing. What a gift…not just to her, but we found it has turned out to be a gift to ourselves as well!
Our firstborn son just turned 11. And he does NOT like getting gift cards or money. So we were a little nervous that our #winning streak might be interruption on this one. We made sure to purchase gifts in advance that he could unwrap…which was nothing more than copious amounts of Lego sets. All of which he assembled before bedtime on his birthday night.
We had to think a little harder about his “skip n ______” day, but I had my antennae up for just this reason. When he mentioned watching Captain America with a friend this past summer and that a few friends at school had seen the new movie and in a store he pointed out an UnderArmor shirt featuring Captain America and said, “he’s my favorite hero” (<–kid of few words, so when he speaks, we listen), I did the math. He received a “skip n watch” to go see the new Captain America movie in the theater. On a school day.
He expanded the experience by suggesting we get the first Captain America movie from RedBox to get Dan and I up to speed on the good Captain’s origins before we head to the theater to watch the “new” one–knowing my introvert he just doesn’t want to answer all my questions during the movie in the theater, but he also is one for “the whole series”.
I love how my kids are transitioning from “stuff” to “experiences”–making memories and helping make that really hard-to-get one-on-one time with parents-of-four-kids a reality.
What are some creative ways you do or have heard of to intentionally have fun over time with your kids?