Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Present

With the holidays quickly approaching, my mind is swirling with thoughts about presents. I obviously haven't started shopping. I've just starting thinking.
As a child, present getting was the best.  I'd love nothing more than for my girl to love it like I did. And she will. In time.

You may assume that if you've never received a present before, your introduction to present getting would be a joyous and fabulous event.
Not so much.
After 6 months, some of my Aster's thoughts, "I love presents mommy. I like getting things. I think it's so nice of people to get me things...but, I just get sooo nervous."

By the time you are at the age where you are trying to please others - by the time you actually can think about what other people may be thinking - most American kids have opened an uncountable number of presents. They are experts. They've had years of gentle couching on what to say, rate of opening, how to respond, etc. They also are usually familiar with the items they are getting, know how to ask if they are unsure, speak the same language of the gift giver fluently and know the appropriate gift getting language. 

If you think about the pragmatics needed to successfully open a gift, it's a bit mind blowing. You need to know how to look and what to say during each of the numerous steps: When you get handed the package, while opening the package, after opening the package and later when someone wants to talk about it again.

Everyone stares at you (making you nervous, so you may hurry?), evaluates your facial expression.
What do they want me to say?
What do they want my face to say?
What if I don't like it? What do I do then? What do I say?
What if it's something I already have?
What if I don't know what to do with it?
What if I do like it? What do I do then? What do I say?
What do I do with this paper?
How does it open?
Do I shake it?
What do they want me to do with it after I open it?
Why are they STILL staring at me?
Why is my mom talking the whole time? "Slow down, relax, say thank you, don't shake it, don't throw it, look at it, look what it does, let me help you, say 'Thank you'..."

Remember the slight anxiety as a child when you opened up that gift from your great-grandfather? What could it possibly be? How should I react to THIS?
It's a billion times worse for our babies. We were possibly a little anxious, yet we KNEW what we were supposed to do.

Point? My baby girls LOVES presents and she should get them. Slowly. Without a lot of people. With support. With front loading.

She remembers who gave her each and every single thing she owns. Things that were here when she arrived, she has asked. She also treats all of her things respectfully and thoughtfully. Aster is amazing, but watching her open gifts is the most painfully awkward event. When she first came home, we thought that videoing her opening a present would be fun. Nope. Within 10 seconds we stopped. It was horrifying.

Even Christmas gift getting. It's just hard.


calkeebler said...

really interesting What is it like when she watches other kids opening presents? When she has the vocabulary and maturity to look back on it someday, I hope I will be able to hear her thoughts on the whole experience, and thank her and J. for sharing their first experiences here.

Sharon said...

This is still true for my daughter-after almost 2 years home. It is painfully hard to watch. She struggles to allow herself to enjoy the gift, too.

Thanks for writing this so well-it's a good reminder for me as we look forward to Christmas.