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ho ho ho, merry shopping!

CNN: Brand name gifts are all the rage

No shit.

Natalie, just shy of 13, hands me her Christmas list. Her finalized, twenty times done over Christmas list. She had to redo it so many times because she lives in a dream world where Santa still exists and he's going to bring her a cell phone, a digital camera and laptop.

Natalie, I thought since you stopped believing in Santa your lists would get more realistic.

What's not realistic about it??

I hand her a blank sheet of paper and tell her to start over again. Finally, she comes to me with the list she says is the ultimate, final, realistic list.

First thing I see is the Eminem cd. I take a red Sharpie and cross it off.


Sorry, can't have it.

But what if you get the edited version?

It's not the curses that bother me, it's the context.

What does that mean?

It means that even if he's not saying shitmotherfuckerbastardwhore he's still talking about things that a 13 year old just doesn't need to be singing about. Stick the American Idol songs, ok?

And I know this is hypocritical of me. Among my kids' cd collection are offerings from Metallica and Linkin Park and Faith No More and Puddle of Mudd and a gathering of other bands whose lyrics would make my own mother blush. I can deal with these bands, mixed in with Natalie's American Idol sap and DJ's Les Miz soundtrack. I find Eminem's lyrics too real, too jarring, too good; something that makes sense only to me, I suppose.

So I mark Natalie's list up again, crossing out and correcting spelling and reminding her that money does not grow on trees.

Once more, with feeling. The next day after school she brings me a new, improved list with the items she must must must have because, well - it's what all the other girls have. Remember that in kidspeak, all the other girls could very well mean just one, most likely the popular one.

The list has three things on it:

Kate Spade pocketbook
Baby-G watch
Pea coat

Natalie goes to do her homework and I start looking these things up on the internet.

Did you know that Kate Spade pocketbooks start at $100.00? I call Natalie into the room.

Please tell me there are not seventh grade girls walking around with Kate Spade pocketbooks.

She rattles off the names of four girls who own such an item. What kind of parent spends $100 on a pocketbook for their 12 or 13 year old? Oh yes, a rich one. I gently remind Natalie that not only are we not rich, we are most likely not even middle class. She pouts, but looks a little embarassed at the revelation of how much this item costs.

Next item, Baby-G watches, something I've never heard of before. Oh, look here. They range anywhere from $70 to $200. I call Natalie back into the room. I show her how much these watches cost.

But it's a watch, mom. It could be my big present. Pleeeeaaase?

I'm going to buy a $100 watch for a girl who has lost almost every piece of jewelry she ever owned?

It's not really jewelry, it's, like...umm...important. I need a watch. I need that watch.

What about the watch I got you last year?

Oh my GOD, mom! You got that from BURGER KING!

I stifle a laugh, she leaves the room in a huff (is there any other way for a teen to leave the room?) and start looking for where to get a pea coat in her size. The phone rings. It's Natalie and DJ's father, wanting to know what to get them for Christmas.

I think for a minute. I know how he loves to play the good guy all the time and buy them expensive presents in lieu of spending any quality time with them (even though he has them every weekend). This irks me to no end and I sometimes chastise him about buying the kids' loyalty. But not this time. I decide to finally stop playing the cards I have against him. I fold.

Natalie wants a Kate Spade pocketbook, a Baby-G watch and a pea coat.

Twenty minutes later he calls back. He got Natalie the watch and the coat. Neither of us will spend the money on the pocketbook.

Oh yes, I know that was probably the wrong thing to do, letting my ex buy her the materialistic, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses items that I wouldn't. And I know she is going to squeal in delight in when she opens them. But the point is, it's a middle ground thing. She gets the coat and the watch from her dad, she gets the Game Boy Advance and telephone for her bedroom that she was dying for from me and Justin, and she forgets all about the Kate Spade pocketbook and the Eminem cd.

Ah yes, there was a point to this post and I've rambled and gone off in a direction that I didn't intend to. That point being - who is so hung up on labels and brand names that they would spend $100 on a pocketbook for their kid or $45 on a t-shirt, yes T-SHIRT, just because it says Abercrombie and Fitch? Maybe I need to be rich to understand those answers.

Oh, and the other thing was, I probably overreacted with the Eminem cd. But much in the same way I will not let DJ, who is barely ten, have Adam Sandler movies on DVD, I will not let Natalie have Eminem cds. It's just a thing. And besides, I'm the mom. I can do what I want.



It's your world, m'dear...the rest of us are just renting.... ;0)

And I though our family had problems with my 7-year old niece wanting a horrible plastic "cinderella's fairy castle" that makes the rest of us want to puke.

You want eBay, mama! I got a Baby G for 15 bucks on there not too long ago.

Hee! Great post! My 16 yr old wanted new tires for Christmas. I said, "Guess again, Batman!" So, being the resourcefyl child of divorce that he is he called his dad and said, "Mom won't get me new tires :::pout:::"

You're the best mom yet !!!!
I'm still the mom that lives with in means
and on christmas morning I'll hear oh mom I love you for thinking about me......

Michele -

Not only are you the mom, you are all knowing powerful mom whose word is the law. Kind of like being a dictator except you really do love your subjects.

Just a thought...Does she surf the web and/or know about your blog? If so, isn't there an excellent chance she'll discover what she's getting for Christmas?

Yea, if I could just get them to clean their room.

John, she surfs the web but does not know about my blog.

I watch her like a hawk when she's surfing, not only because I don't want her to discover the blog, but because whenever she types in a URL she thinks she knows from memory, she ends up at a porn site.

Girlsclub.com is NOT a club for school age girls!

In the future, all URLs will be one character away from porn. (Isn't there a misspelling of InstaPundit that goes to porn now?).

I really, truly believe that parents have the right to say, "Because I say so, that's why." Sometimes, that's what it comes down to.

Michele - YOU'RE THE MOM BOMB!!!

Kim - It worked for me.


I agree. My favorite reason for doing anything is, "because I can."
What I found [pleasantly] odd, and nearly frightening, is the lack of necessity to use the "'cause I said so" reason on my 5-yr old sister. (Chronologically, she could[should? nah.] be my daughter. I often remind my father that she doesn't count as a grandkid, and that he's just going to have to wait.) When she asks me 'why' about such-and-such, she actually considers it, and then asks me another intelligent question. It's spooky. The other siblings never did that Hell, the two that are 16 barely do that now. Maybe Victoria (the 5-yr old) is really a midget that my father and his wife have pawned off on me as a joke? (although, cleaning her nasty, tar-diapers when she was a baby would suggest otherwise. Yech.)

Next time your daughter is looking for name brand stuff, check out ebay. Kate Spade (knockoff) purses for around $20-$25. And would a teenage girl really know the difference? Besides, it may be another 15 years till she realizes that it's not worth the extra money for the designer brand. I think it took me til I turned 30!

Nat's friends are idiots.
I know people who own Kate Spade bags too, and they're fucking dorks. Guh.

Here's what you do: hie thee to Manhattan. Take a stroll down, I dunno, St. Mark's or anywhere people sell wares on the street. See Kate Spade and Baby G knockoffs for 1/100th the price, probably better made than the real deal. Get those, and watch as 2 days later they are relegated to the "so last season" pile.

I'm 15 right now, soon to be 16, and I agree with most things you have said. And to your question about being "hung up." I know at one time you wanted to "fit in," and be popular like every other kid. And, the only way teens seems to be able to accomplish that IS by wanting these things. Of course, someday they will realize a true friend likes you no matter what, but an Abercrombie and Fitch shirt can't hurt too much. I used to be the same way. Then I learned of Goodwill.

Gosh. I'm feeling very glad right now that my kids don't seem to be hung up on the designer brand thing. They're only 12 and 8, so maybe things will change when they get a little older, but so far they're asking for things that they want because it's stuff they'll actually use and enjoy, rather than because everybody else has it too. Hope it lasts!

Oh hell, you can buy knock-off Kate Spade bags for like $25 in any Manhattan neighborhood. I have about three of them, and no one can tell the difference. The only kind of bag I'll spend real money on is Coach, and that's because the leather lasts forever. I'd never spend $400 for a real Kate Spade.

My comment to my kids about name-brand whatever with a big logo was, "If they want me to advertise for them, they can damn well pay me, I'm not paying $20 or $30 extra for a shirt just because their name's splashed across it".

You didn't overreact on the Eminem CD. My husband has it, and one of the songs was so offensive that I left the room. I'm pretty openminded, and I know that it was a parody, but it still offended me at the gut level. I like the music, but there is no way a 13 year old girl or boy should be listening to it. No way.

Yes, Michele. You are right. Keep up the good work. Natalie will thank you someday, especially when she has her own teenage daughter. ;-)

I have to admit, when my sister-in-law bought me a kate spade purse two years ago, I had never heard of kate spade. Which was good, because it turns out it was a knockoff. Nobody could tell, so I say, go for a knockoff if she really, really wants it. If other girls her age have 'em, I'll bet you anything theirs are knockoffs too. What kind of parent would buy their kid the real thing?? Okay, well, a snooty one, but still.

I'm only eleven almost twelve and my dad agrees with you.My friend has his cd and her mom lets her listen to it on full blast while I'm over there.So in some ways I'm disobeying my dad becouse he dosen't want me to listen to his music nontheless sing it.

you're doing just what you need to be doing. but you know that. you're observant, in their face, and they'll give you years of huffing & puffing about it, but they're gonna turn out ok and will be grateful for you when they're old enough to have a clue.

my mom stopped asking me about school or being all in my business when I was about 14. my dad was just oblivious and let me do whatever I wanted. I took that rope and hung myself - didn't graduate, no college, poor choices in friends & relationships for a long time. I've vowed to stay in Jayden's business and to not be one of those "I'm your friend and if you wanna do bad stuff, make sure you do it at home" parents. it's cliched, but so true - they'll thank us later.