A lot of people have been talking about about a widely circulated blog post titled ‘A message to those without children about buying gifts for kids’. Written by a mom who claims it was “less about [her], and more about the person giving,” the post has a response ratio of about three side-eyes for every round of applause (though many of the comments on the post itself are positive). It’s not that the gift-giving suggestions the blogger makes in her “Dos and Don’ts” list are especially exorbitant or difficult. No, the issues people have with the post stem from the underlying entitlement that a person must feel just to write such a thing. No one enjoys gift-giving when it comes with a bunch of demands masked as “thoughtful suggestions,” and it’s parents like the I Gave Up By Noon blogger that actually fuel the giving of certain items.
Take the #2 item in her ‘Don’ts’ list, “Toys that sing in THAT VOICE,” which implies that people buy toys that make noise just because they think their friends’ kids will love them. Nope! It’s because they think their friends are obnoxious and they want to torture them. With Christmas comes an opportunity for people (with or without children) to subtly let their friends know what they think of their parenting and/or children. Sound rude? Well, it can be, depending on whether parents have been “naughty or nice” to their friends since having a baby. Much like the eye for an eye principle, people apply a set of assessments when shopping for a friend or relative’s child, and any parent who’s written a list of gift “Dos and Don’ts” is probably more likely to wind up with the loudest, cheapest piece of shit plastic guitar on the market. I’m not saying this is a rule everyone applies, just that if your kid receives a toy that shatters your sanity with high-pitched singing, it might be for a reason.
It all comes down to this: Some parents enjoy nothing more than “schooling” their friends (and the general public) on various pieces of parenting advice. They figure, “Hey, if no one else is going to say it, I WILL!” But it isn’t virtuous to explain which gifts for kids suck ass (stuffed animals, candy, anything with lace, ruffles, or buttons) and which gifts are welcome/acceptable (wooden toys, cotton pajamas). It’s almost like parent bloggers view these “lesson-based” posts — often geared toward people without children — as handy resource guides, like Wikipedia entries that people will reference for years to come. And who knows, maybe people will. But for every parent who requests “good quality children’s literature” (which is like when The Barefoot Contessa says to use “good vanilla,”) and recommends that friends read a children’s book “6 times in a row and see if you like it,” there’s another parent delivering an agonizing lesson about something else. We are in the era of experts, after all. Here are some other messages that parents have helpfully relayed to their childless friends online:
1. Be a Part Of His Life (And Don’t Expect Us To Come To You)
Look, not everyone has time to put your kid on their shoulders and take a trip to the zoo. Not everyone thinks of calling a two-year-old they’ve only met twice (because most of us have mothers and siblings and former coworkers to catch up with, when we have time). And not everyone wakes up on Saturday mornings at 7AM and thinks, “What would be really nice would be to bring my friend and her son some breakfast as a surprise! Then maybe I’ll take him off her hands for a few hours while she catches up on stuff.”
Indeed, these thoughts have crossed my mind before, and many a pair of adorable shoes have been purchased for the children of my closest friends (even though they outgrow them in like nine days). I spend as much time with my nephews and niece as I can. But everyone else’s kids? I can’t keep up. Just because Jackie’s kid isn’t old enough to realize that her friends are too busy for him doesn’t mean that her friends aren’t legitimately too busy for him. If you want people to know your kid, don’t post a Facebook update that says “(and not always expect us to come to you),” especially if you’re passive-aggressively talking to relatives. Just pick up the phone, make the effort to reach out to people personally, and put your money where your mouth is.
2. Date Night Is Not What You Think It Is
Everyone without kids — date night is not your claim to make! The next time you and your partner order the risotto with scallops and a bottle of wine and look into each other’s eyes and pause to say, “Wow, when is the last time we did this? Just you and me, relaxing out at dinner on a Friday night!”, DO NOT CALL THAT DATE NIGHT. If you’re a person without kids, those are actually called “youthful childless togetherness nights.” Remember that hot tip before you post about your “date night” on Facebook, or a parent who knows better might just call you out.
3. 10 Things My Childless Friends Need To Know
This is a list that a parent sent to her childless Facebook friends in a note. Isn’t it funsies? Gotta love those humor-filled rundowns that parents give to their selfish friends in the form of a 10-point (but FUNNY) manifesto. Soon, these manifestos are going to come complete with silly GIFs and look just like BuzzFeed posts. Whatever helps to communicate the essentials to people without kids, amirite? Childless people LOVE looking at GIFs when they’re not trying on fedoras or chugging Bloody Marys at overpriced brunches. Besides, if raising the future generation isn’t a person’s priority numero uno, it’s important that s/he have a parent friend who will explain things like, “We’re not crotchety, we just want better for our kids,” or, “You cannot understand conditional love until you have a child.” Just a few friendly notes being passed on from one responsible contributing member of society to… um, the rest of us.