I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In which a pirate's chest breaks my spirit

The trio's birthday party was yesterday. I think "party" is far too nice a word for what can better be described as "a one way trip to hell involving fourteen 3 foot high munchkins all emulating the Lord of the Flies." Seriously, what was I thinking? In my head I had envisaged them all doing as I asked, speaking in "inside" voices, and behaving in a manner befitting Stepford Children. What I got was a house full of screaming banshees running amok (and this is BEFORE the sugar). In the end the party was a success, the Cheezels all got eaten, and mercifully every child got picked up by a parent (but heaven knows if they went home with the right parent, because at that point I was just glad to be rid of them.)

After their unmedicated ADHD friends left, the kids got to open their presents. Mostly I was really pleased that the kids ended up with things they will both enjoy and use. Unfortunately I also found myself going head to head with what can only be described as THE SINGLE WORST POSSIBLE THING TO GIVE TO A KID. (AKA the present you give when you hate the parents of the birthday kid, and you want to go all passive aggressive on them.)

I am talking about the craft present. The do-it-yourself, decorate-it-yourself, bake-it-yourself, inflict-pain-and-suffering-on-yourself sort of present. Dreamcatchers (which are so 80's!), pillow cases, handbags, watches, pins, doll houses, t-shirts, flower pots, hair clips, foam door hangers, indoor terrariums ... whatever irritating thing you can glue shit to. All of these presents are wrapped in cutesy packaging, with a picture on the front which shows how AMAZING your creation is going to be, and how EASY it will be to achieve artistic greatness. What they don't show is you dropping half of the teeny-tiny plastic jewels on the floor, getting your dining table covered in cheap crappy glue which comes in the world's smallest squeezy bottle, getting felt pieces stuck in your hair, glitter in your eyes, and you sitting in the corner rocking back and forth and endlessly crying, "Why me? Why me? WHY ME?!" The packaging also doesn't show how this shitty little made-in-Taiwan craft present has a catch that won't close, a pin which isn't straight, a cardboard punch-out which rips when you look at it wrong, markers which run dry after one line and exactly one less plastic sparkly fake jewel than you need to complete your piece de resistance.

Seriously, these things are the worst presents - not least of which because they require Mom and/or Dad and/or your nearest victim to do the entire thing for you. But, I hear you saying, it's a KIDS craft. The KID is meant to make it themselves! Yeah. Sure. With a hot glue gun in one hand and razor sharp scissors in the other and the aforementioned glue squeezy bottle which requires 200 lbs of brute strength to make the fucking thing give up some fucking glue I am squeezing as hard as I can fer cripes' sake come out already goddamit!

Today DS and I tackled one of these DIY projects - a foam treasure chest complete with gold glitter lock and gold braiding. 2 hours, one stupid (empty!) squeezy bottle, one pretty serious hot glue gun burn on DS's hand, gold glitter strewn within a five mile radius, a headache the size of Mount Kilimanjaro and before you could say, "Ahoy, Matey!" we had a pirate chest. A pirate chest with glue coming out of the corners, a crooked foam skull or two, 7 red fake jewels placed around haphazardly, gold glitter coming off in waves...and two bits of gold braiding. A pirate chest which, two hours later, DH tells me, needs more hot glue....because the lock fell off.

This same afternoon DH got the pleasure of making a "decorate it yourself" watch kit which DD2 got. 2 hours, gobs of glue out of the useless squeeze bottle, stickers, random scraps of paper, and some very dodgy watch holes later and he and DD had their two watches. DH had it worse than I did, as there were no actual instructions included - so he kept squinting at the little line drawing on the box to try and figure it out. I figured he had a skill advantage over me - he's an engineer! I couldn't have been more wrong. An hour into it, I overheard him say, "Oh! The jewels go on the INSIDE!" after he and DD2 had spent, oh, an hour gluing the little fuckers onto the OUTSIDE, and mostly getting them stuck to the tabletop and their fingers.

Clearly, even attempting one of these fuck-it-up-yourself projects is an act of sheer determination and love. Not only do you have to fight the glue bottle, the glitter, the kid wielding the scissors and all the rest of it...but you then have to come up with a feasible explanation as to WHY your finished project looks nothing like the one on the box. So far the best we came up with is, "Well, at least it's original!"

Yesterday when we were unwrapping the presents I was oohing and aaahing over how cute these little kits were. My mind's eye could see me and my kids, basking in the afternoon Autumn sun, carefully making our little crafts. I imagined myself humming as we worked, content and happy in the knowledge that our masterpieces would be museum quality when they were done, and would outlast the end of time. Yeah. NO. Not only did I spend more time cursing than I did humming, but there was NO freakin' sun, either. It's pouring cats and dogs, DS spent 30 minutes whimpering from his burn...and the fucking lock on the stupid pirate chest did not stick.

The boxes all promise "hours of creative fun!" Fun?! For WHO, exactly? And the "hours" part of it? That's in the picking off cemented jewels off your floor with your fingernails and the cursing and the fighting and the wishing a large pit would swallow you up whole so you could stop fighting with the damn glue bottle and get this bloody project OVER WITH.

I think a better tag line for these kits would be, "Hours of creative blog fodder!" because that's about all these things are good for.

Originally I was going to write a blog post about the other gifts which I think deserve my scorn and irritation ... make-up. Yes, we are now the proud owners of at least 5 dozen (no, I'm not exaggerating) little pots of kids' make-up. Lip gloss I can handle...but mascara? BLUE mascara? Eye shadow, lipsticks, glitter glue which you're meant to put where, exactly?, and did I mention that there was also glitter mascara? So this post is not about the MAC store which you can now open in my house.

Nor is it about the Size 10-12 underwear that DS got.

It's about the fact that she-who-can-accomplish-everything....finally met her match. Scary overachiever girl...got beaten by a 6 inch black foam pirate chest. With gold braids!


Alice said...

Poor Emzeegee - What ghastly presents. I think you need to have a relaxing cinnamon bath/shower. Alice

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

LOL Alice, I think that's very sound advice!