No wrapping paper under my Christmas tree
This holiday instead of spending Christmas morning snipping away at plastic packaging, wrestling more plastic out to be played with, too soon forgotten, tripped over and broken, I am hoping to keep the gifts more abstract.
We simply cannot use one more thing. One could say we are blessed to have it all but really we just moved what we do have across three states and nothing will make you prioritize faster than packing.
Not only am I thinking of our limited space, but there are gifts to send across three states to various relatives, making the gift that fits into thin air even more appealing than ever. I hesitate to give a kid a gift certificate, as I know it will really translate into more plastic. Instead, I offer these ideas for kids.
The old standby is to find the nearest play place, jumpy barn or romp yard and get passes. Seems like every neighborhood has one or two, we've always enjoyed them, well at least kiddo does while I refuse to watch, I just try to stand close in case a rescue is needed. I keep my nose buried in book and my ears open while she jumps, crawls and climbs to dizzying heights through giant gerbil tubes. I especially like a play land that includes the possibility of learning something; it balances out the grey hairs I get while listening for head bonks and cries. We are lucky enough to have NASAs Kid's Space Place right up the road. A membership gets us in all year as well as discounts on classes and day camps. I think I may write Santa a note this year inquiring about the family membership.
The other sure fire way to give yourself grey hairs is to try to teach your own child how to roller skate. Considering I skate for the Houston Roller Derby, you'd think I'd have all the tips on how to do it and my kid would be rolling before she could walk. Nothing is further from the truth. The few times she's asked to go skating, she clings to me like glue and since I can't stand to see her get hurt, I drag her around the rink until her armpits are sore from holding her up. She needs a different grown up to teach her, one who's impervious to her pout. This makes all the difference, as any parent who has seen how their child acts in school compared to home knows. This is how Fun City Roller Skate Lessons ended up on the short list. Not only is it athletic but it could end up a source of entertainment throughout her entire life and I won't have a sore back from trying to teach her myself.
While I was checking out local classes, among the ballet and karate I found art classes at The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake. They have a standard drawing and painting class that includes not getting paint on my floor as well as specialized individual instruction. They also do some occasional fun classes that intrigue me. For instance at Halloween they had a special effects class for kids 8-13 called Bruises, Wounds, & Blood." How cool is that! I'll just keep watching the website for those.
While we're talking about drama loving children, I need to mention Bay Area Harbour Playhouse's Theatre classes. My kid has been transforming into princesses, robots and rock stars at will for years complete with homemade costumes and sometimes accompanying music and dance steps. Their eight week program starts up again in February and culminates with a full production. Giving her a chance to find a community ready to embrace and encourage that part of her would be better than anything I could find in any toy isle.
These types of gifts are certainly specialized, and can be expensive as well as take time to execute. While it may not be easy to figure out when someone else has the time to take a class there are some fun experiences that just fill an afternoon. In our area alone there are at least a dozen companies who will charter a boat for your pirate loving kid. Kemah Roller Coaster tickets would go over well with thrill seekers and horseback riding with animal lovers. You just have to consider what your kid likes. Years from now these experiences will create memories that will last much longer than a toy and just think no assembly required.
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