Is she old enough?

The great Christmas shopping bonanza began months ago – in my mind, at least. As a result, I do have the kids mostly taken care of, save a few toys and stocking stuffers. But I’ve been buying clothes for them at different points through the year, especially when the summer clearances happened. So I’m feeling pretty confident about the kids, and even my nieces, Little Cousin and Belle. Belle’s too little to really want any toys just yet, and since she’s living with her mommy at her Granny and Papa’s house while the Captain is in Iraq, and Granny used to run a daycare, there are plenty of things for her to play with there. And I know that Little Cousin is going to get some toys for Christmas. We are planning to get a couple of toy items for Tad, but our real difficulty is the Munchkin.

She’s finally old enough now to have some desires in what she wants for toys. This is a good thing. The problem is that her 3rd birthday comes two days after Christmas, and essentially, we have to buy double for her. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to say that she’d just had Christmas gifts and short her on the birthday end of things, because we would never say the same thing to Tad, whose birthday is in August.

The other end of the dilemma is that because her birthday is so close to Christmas, she has no chance of “outgrowing” a toy and then us having another opportunity to give her a more advanced one at the next major gift-giving occasion. We either end up giving her toys that she will love now, but possibly outgrow, or gift ahead and try to convince her to wait to play with something. Yeah, right.

The other quandry that we are running into is trying to decide what she is old enough for. We did a major jump forward some months ago and moved my old dollhouse into her room, and gave her some furniture and dolls to get started with. Since we already had the dollhouse, justifying giving her the furniture and dolls was easier. And she had hit that point in the year when the toys she received for Christmas and birthday were no longer the draw to her that they had been, or she had outgrown them. Even though the dollhouse stuff said “ages 3+”, I knew that she was good and ready to start playing with a dollhouse, because it was the one toy that she was always drawn to at church. But how far do we go this year? Do we go with a 4 and up type toy? Do we take a risk on a toy that she may not show much interest in now, but might be begging us for in six months?

It makes me grateful for the Easter Bunny, because that does give us the chance to give her something at a different time of year, but it’s not on the same scale as a birthday.

We know that we have at least one winner lined up. (And the Captain is bragging that he will retain the “best gift giver award” again this year, and I don’t doubt him.) Obachan and I planned carefully and a b-i-c-y-c-l-e and h-e-l-m-e-t have been purchased, to be given to her by Obachan (I do the shopping, she pays the bills. It works.) for her birthday. This will be something that she will not outgrow anytime soon. The problem is that she could really use it NOW. And there was no way that she was ready for it last year, or even last Easter. She has borrowed the neighbors’ trike from next door a few times, and has absolutely adored it (their grandkids use it when they visit, so it doesn’t belong to any one kid). Every time I have seen her on it, I just feel so badly for her, that there isn’t a good opportunity for us to give her that kind of gift without making it a major “extra” gift. And when Tad is older, how do we get away with saying to him, “Well, your sister really would like ‘x’, and her birthday is right after Christmas, so we’re going to get it for her now, but you don’t get anything because your birthday is ‘y’ months from now and you will get gifts then”? Plain and simple, we don’t.

We have discussed moving the Munchkin’s birthday party to her half-birthday in June, but the Webmaster feels that we shouldn’t do that until she is old enough to understand what is going on – it’s not really her birthday, but she’s going to get a party and presents now, but on her real birthday, there won’t be a big party… You can see the complications. So, that solution will have to wait until she’s old enough to comprehend it.

Back to my quandry at hand. I am staring at the American Girl website, trying to decide if the Munchkin would like a baby doll (Bitty Baby, ages 3 and up) for her birthday or Christmas. She has started to show a real interest in her My First Doll, which has a vinyl face and a fleece body and can’t be undressed, and in the dolls at church, which can be undressed. And now she’s not simply stripping them and leaving them cold in the buff for the next preschooler to deal with. She’s actually taking an interest in caring for and dressing the dollies. But does she really want one? Would she play with it, or would it just sit around naked until she was older?

Last year, she got Play-Doh for Christmas. I immediately put it away, because I knew she wasn’t old enough for it. It was only recently that she’s been playing with it, which I blogged about. Is this what will happen every year – her receiving gifts that she’s not old enough for yet, and me hiding them away until she is, which means that I actually have to remember that the darned things exist??

So, I ask your opinion:
Do we give her gifts that she’s not ready for or not?
Do we cop out and just give her gift cards for later, which won’t translate to an actual gift in the toddler mind?
If you were a 3 year old girl, would you want a Bitty Baby doll?

Or am I just making too much out of this?

3 Responses to “Is she old enough?”

  1. Kim
    October 13th, 2006 05:08

    My favorite toy when I was younger, which I got around 9 or 10, was my felicity doll from American Girls. I got my first doll when I was about the Munchkins age, and it was a cabage patch doll. My mom said I played with that thing all the time.

    Similar to the munchkin as well, my birthday was a month before Christmas. And sometimes my parents would get me stuff that was a little too old for me, I guess would be the term, but I would still play with it, and I think that helped me grow and progress a little bit and helped me do better in school in the early days. Because the whole stimulating the mind with something that’s a little more advanced then what you are ready for, but it’s not to the frustrating point, if that makes sense.

    I’m sure whatever you do, she’ll love it. =)

    Oh, and I love the half birthday idea, by the way. As long as she understands it and is OK with it, I think it’s an awesome idea. The one thing I always hated growing up, I could never have an outdoor party as a kid, like all my friends with summer birthdays could. So that’s another way you could always play it off. =)

  2. Little Cousin's Mommy
    October 13th, 2006 07:09

    1. From now on, I think she’s aware enough of Christmas and birthdays that she’ll feel ripped off if a present gets whisked away before she gets a crack at it.

    2. Gift cards for a toddler, who can comprehend what presents are, is a total jip.

    3. Go ahead with the Bitty baby and get two outfits, but only give her one. If she really likes dressing it, you can hand her the other outfit and she’ll be grateful – plus Tad won’t know the difference at this age. By Easter, if she still really likes it, get her some accessories or another outfit for it.

  3. Dozeymagz
    October 14th, 2006 05:52

    I’ve noticed that both Mophead & Dustbunny tend to play with toys that have an older age bracket on them. Even if they don’t get the correct use, they still enjoy them, but more often than not, they manage to play with them just fine. For instance, Mophead was given some magnetix for her recent 4th birthday. She is really having fun with it even though they are age marked 6+. She may not manage to make the more complex shapes, but she is making things out of them which she understands! (Don’t worry, Dustbunny doesn’t get near them because there are too many small bits!)