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and there were presents, too

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As a fifth child I am a firm believer that every child, no matter their spot in the birth order, should be given a shower.  Why should only the first child get the fanfare? Don’t the second, third, fourth, and dare I say, even the fifth child deserve a celebration in anticipation of their arrival? And this isn’t about the stuff (though I am a 32-year-old woman who has never owned a bike of her own and is still riding a 1989 World Sport Schwinn hand-me-down bike from my sister, so there may be an element of touchiness about that subject).  It is about that anticipation, that starry time before a child’s birth, that wonder of who this child will be. Of course, I have never actually given birth, so pregnant women might view these weeks before the pain of childbirth to be a time of panic rather than a time of dreamy wonder.

But a shower for a second child is a tricky affair.  Parents already have all the baby stuff they need, even if some of it is stained and worn.  And most parents are constantly fighting back the mounds of stuff that accumulate with kids, so they don’t really want more stuff.  What parents do need is help, because time and sleep always seem to be in short supply. So with each invitation we included a fill-in-the-blank card that each guest was to fill out and bring to the shower.  Here is the what the card looked like:

Guests filled out the cards with promises to make meals, to invite her 3-year-old over for playdates and a bug safari (Robin’s very cool idea which went along perfectly with the bug house she made).  I thought the honoree’s mom’s card was the cutest, which promised to ‘cook, clean, help, and be there’. Of course we’d all probably do these things for her anyway, but having the promise on paper seems to elevate the giving of time to real gift status.  In addition to the gifts of time we also presented her with the artwork the playgroup kids had made (much more on this project here):

So, here I have waxed poetic about the merits of gifts of time and how the last thing parents need is more stuff and what did we do? We showered the big-sister-to-be with gifts.  What were we thinking??!!  The thought was that we could each give her a present that would encourage independent play and therefore allow her mom to lavish attention guilt-free on the new baby. This idea, which made some sense in our adult mom-brains, completely confused the 3-year-old (we didn’t tell her this ulterior motive of the presents, the independent play bit) and she was a bit dazed during the gift opening, not quite understanding why we were giving her gifts. Indeed, in our attempt to honor and give importance to the role of big sister we may have inadvertently caused her to freak out a bit about this baby on the way. Alas, live and learn. On a selfish note, I had a ton of fun making a gift for her, a little fort kit which I hope to post a tutorial on by next week.  So stay tuned for that.

At the end of the party all the kids left with a bubble wand from the guests of honor and a little drawstring bag (one of my all-time favorite things to sew) that I had filled with a mini-notebook (thank you to my lovely niece, Faith, who helped me put these together over Easter), circle crayons, and more candy than is good for them.

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