It's the most wonderful time of the year…unless you are a stressed-out parent searching for this year's must-have holiday toy. Oh, don't deny it. We've all been that mom. The mom who frantically searches stores and stands in queues at 4 AM and does internet searches for that one, hot, perfect toy that will make her child's holiday.
But it needs to stop.
Seriously. I know this because I learned this lesson the hard way. It started when Junior was nearly 2 years old. Junior loved Barney. You remember Barney, right? Annoying purple dinosaur that sang an incredibly annoying song that my son sang over and over again until my ears bled? Yeah, that Barney.
Anyway, I had a love/hate thing going with the big, purple guy. On the one hand, when Barney was on every weekday morning at 8:30, I could take a shower. Do you know how pleasant that was? I took an entire shower, complete with leg shaving and nobody pounded on the door, yelling, "Mom! Mommy! Mom!"
On the other hand, Barney was clearly sent directly from Hell to torture me. I hated the song. I hated the dinosaur. I hated the kids on the program that danced with him. And yes, in hindsight I might have been a little irrational, but whatever.
So that year Barney came out with an interactive version. Like the evil, purple thing he was, the interactive version danced, sang and played peek-a-boo. Well, peek-a-boo was Junior's favorite game. We played it for hours. I was heartily sick of peek-a-booing my brains out.
Obviously, my son had to have this toy. I spent lunch hours combing the mall. I was known to frequent parking lots in a desperate search for a black market Barney. My entire life revolved around finding a dang Barney. I was convinced that if I didn't find a Barney for Junior, Christmas would be ruined. So of course you know I had no luck at all. And then one day, my mom called. She had found him.
And on Christmas morning, my son opened the box. And he brought out Barney. And I swear to you, my whole family just sat there waiting for Junior to sing, dance and play peek-a-boo with his new BFF. And my son looked at Barney, hugged him, then tossed him aside, climbed in the box and started playing peek-a-boo with us while Barney sat in the corner all alone.
And so, my tip to you this holiday season is this: don't worry about the hot toy. It will never, ever be worth you pulling your hair out over. Kids are happiest with you. They don't need some fancy toy to make their holiday. They just need you. And a box, of course.
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