We budget (although we fail on occasion) and save for everything as a goal, including monthly bills, recurring costs (from bills to birthdays to Christmas). All this budgeting has sucked and has meant some very lean times (thankfully short-lived) where there is money in the bank but the budget says we’re done until payday…so we’re done until payday.

And while I still hate where we live and I hate that I am not contributing more financially, this condo is cheap, I can’t do more than I’m doing now…and it’s gotten better. Anyway, we’re not buying new cars or taking vacations, but pH is going to three full-day camps this summer instead of one half-day camp (the last two years) and we can realistically discuss adding in a second set of lessons. That is a big deal in our world.

Everyone gets the same amount of money budgeted for birthdays/Christmas. As adults, we generally buy our own gifts. (This is fine with the adults.) This year for pH’s birthday, I went through her Amazon wish list (it’s easy, and also, several years ago I realized I could say “I’ll put it on your wish list” when she asked for something, with the understanding that it didn’t necessarily mean that she was going to get it). It worked on cutting down asking for things. I usually shop off that list, either on Amazon or elsewhere; local when possible, but it has to be cheaper, with a random surprise or two thrown in.

This morning, she opened her presents. Bear in mind, all of our holidays are low-key. I’m not going to be renting a bouncy house for my kid, as much as I might enjoy it; I can’t justify the cost. kH actually went outside the pH birthday budget to get her the same necklace she’d picked out for my birthday, because she’d liked it so well. And that’s fine.

That was the first thing she saw and she loved it. Then after unwrapping box after box?

She threw a fucking fit about how, “This was all? Where is the rest? Where is X and Y and Z?”

Oh, child.

Oh, my dear, dear, dear child.

I realize telling kids about disadvantaged children without toys isn’t helpful at this age. (I’d even tried it when she was given a mutilated wrapped book at a birthday party’s book exchange–who does that?–and know it fails; I promised to take her to Powell’s to make it up to her because seriously WHO DOES THAT to a kid?).

I realize also that she’s still sick.

However, I do not bring my parenting a-game to a pre-pre-breakfast opening of gifts, so I may have said something about children in the world who do not have five tubs of Playmobil and for her to get over it.

And no, it didn’t work this time, either.

pH ended up sent to her room and was told she could stop having a tantrum or I could put the toys in my closet until she was ready to be polite and gracious. She could have one toy and she picked a Playmobil thing that had to be assembled. I told her she was on her own with that.

She told me she was angry. I told her I was, too. Like I said, not my finest parenting moment.

I slept another hour, until tantrum 2. There was a third one that I was semi-conscious for, then kH suggested I give pH Tylenol, which I did.

An hour or so later?

Much better. She took a long shower and I saw she put the Playmobil together correctly, so bravo to her.

The condition of the release of the other toys: one hour of good behavior=one toy release. They’re on their way out. I’m going to be getting more children’s Tylenol at the store along with the cake.

Resolved for the future:

  1. No gifts before breakfast. (The rationale of doing it first thing was to avoid build-up and let-down, but clearly that failed.)
  2. Volunteer work involving pH starting as soon as possible.
  3. Heavy emphasis on the spend/donate/save method of allowance distribution, in which she chooses a charity to contribute to.
  4. Any suggestions?