“I have some gifts for Declan. Ian doesn’t need them anymore.” There were four things in the back of the car. A scooter, a skateboard, and a pogo stick–three things to make you fall on your face. The fourth thing, a pitchback, will hit you in the face when you throw a ball at it. You throw a baseball and it bounces back and hits you square between the eyes. Stellar.
Any kid loves gifts. What’s better than a gift? A dangerous gift. This is a manifestation of karma. For years, my brother and I have tried to out-give each other in the area of the obnoxious gift. In our family, gift giving isn’t about making the recipient happy. It’s about outsmarting other family members. For years, we tried to tag each other with regifting. The worst was the silverware organizer. This old, yellow, relic of the seventies was disguised in odd-shaped, undetectable wrapping, given to some unlucky recipient every gift-giving holiday. Shame was bestowed upon the unwitting opener, because once opened, the gift stuck to you until you unloaded it the next holiday. The only way to avoid this was to guess the package in advance and refuse to open it, in much the same way that you refuse to read the curse of a chain letter or email so it cannot harm you. Usually, people new to the family got these bad regifts. Boyfriends, girlfriends, future spouses–they never knew how to interpret such a gift, and thanked the giver profusely. Secretly, we all laughed, pretending the silverware organizer was a serious gift indeed.
When we had kids, gift giving became different, more nefarious. The objective was to get the rudest gift possible that wouldn’t actually kill kids but would inconvenience or annoy adults. Things like trumpets, drums, toys that required obscure batteries, models with a zillion parts and directions in a language not yet available on Rosetta Stone, PlayDoh, fingerpaints…they were all age-appropriate and fair game. My brother has three boys to my one… I can do a lot more damage. That’s why I had some serious bad karma wracked up in the gift department.
I took a photo of the items brought by my friend. I contemplated putting out a Facebook quesiton-pool “How long before the first real injury?” I didn’t even get to post. Whap, thump. “WHAAAAA.” Not even enough time to require the bike helmet. Thirty-two seconds
I should have known. It was quite a thump. I saw the head bounce off the pavement, as he “discovered” the skateboard. I am first-aid trained. One way I check for concussion and permanent injury is by offering candy. “Do you want some candy?” If that stops the crying, we’re in business. If not, we’re in trouble. Further medical investigation needed.
Candy and ice cream worked. Even so, it was a pretty good lump. He wears a badge of honor on his forehead. But like all extreme athletes–even if he is one who’s afraid of spiders, he was ready to get back into the game. All last night, “Can we do pogo stick?” That requires that I hold him, spotting him, while he jumps up and down, once in a while bashing me in the face, “Oops.”
“Can we do more skateboard?” By the end of the day, he had learned to wiggle his hiney and make the thing edge down the hill. I had to hold his hand for support.
“One more try on the scooter.” I steer that and hang on to the handlebars and his back. He smiles, and I make him look like he’s ready for the X-Games.
Time well spent together, but an adult neediness factor of 101%. The boy couldn’t be more thrilled, despite the big red welt on his forehead. I can’t take any action shots because he’ll fall on the other side of his face.
This is just the kind of gift my brother would appreciate…three boys… scooters, skateboards, and pogo sticks for all… I’m looking at Amazon right now.