We remember the year when young Benjamin Villalpando wanted the “boy” version of the Easy-Bake Oven (same thing, just in blue and it made mac ‘n’ cheese as well as cake). We played into the crazy and showed up at Toys “R” Us several times as the shipment came only to be disappointed repeatedly. And so, we braced ourselves for a disappointed Ben on Hanukkah. We gave up looking and then on the day before Hanukkah was to start, we happened to be walking by the toy aisle at Target and the sky parted the son shone and there was a lone oven waiting to come home with us. It was a Hanukah miracle.
So, what’s a parent to do when kids have been begging for a certain, very specific toy and it is nowhere to be found? How do you explain how Santa let your child down?
- Form a cooperative of parents looking for similar items. If they find more than one, have them buy it for you. If you find more than one, you’ll buy it for them. You could even divide and conquer. You hit the Target and Toys “R” Us. They hit the Walmart.
- Buy online and accept that it’s going to come after Christmas. Wrap up a picture of the item and the date when it is coming.
- Buy them a gift card. After Christmas is over, these things have a way of showing up in stores a month later. Or maybe what they said they wanted that you’ve been killing yourself to get is really not what they wanted after all.
- Brace them for disappointment. Don’t play into this idea that it is going to happen if you’re not sure you can deliver.
- If Santa is in play, have Santa write them a letter explaining that the toy will come later. Or take the higher road. Have Santa write them a letter about what a great kid they are. You don’t want your child to think she has done something wrong just because the Hatchimal didn’t arrive under the tree. See, Santa is tricky, right?
- Do nothing. As one of my child’s day care providers used to say “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” This is a great teaching opportunity. Disappointment happens. They are not always going to get everything they want. Time to be appreciative of what they did get.
- When they express disappoint them on Christmas morning, remind them of the difference between wants and needs. Did they really need that Shopkin? Is it essential to breathing? No, it’s not.
- If they are still whining, it’s time for what a friend calls an “appreciation tour.” That’s when you go to a part of Austin that’s not as picturesque as where you live. That’s when you volunteer at a soup kitchen or the Capital Area Food Bank or some other place where people don’t have what you have. When my kids start whining, I read them the Statesman Season for Caring stories (I’m the editor). Learning about two kids in a wheelchair who have a life expectancy of 20, that tends to shut them up.
- Get some perspective yourself. You are not a bad parent. If they have food in their bellies, warm clothes to wear and a roof over their heads, you have provided for them. Remember that it’s just one Christmas. They will not become juvenile delinquents just because you couldn’t find the Lol! Surprise or Porg.
- There is always their birthday. Of course, by then, they’ll want something new, something else impossible to find.
What other advice to you have for parents? What toy are you trying to find that you can’t find?