taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My daughter and I teamed up to wrap packages last night. I gave her the kid packages, because I like to make fancy bows for the grown-up gifts, and she pretty much had the technique down: wrap vertically, origami the sides, tape with small pieces, add ribbon, and make a tag out of wrapping paper folded over.

But at first, faced with the "tasteful" wrapping I supplied, she balked. "Where's the kid wrapping paper?" she demanded. I flashed back to that day at Target, when I was carefully picking designer wrapping and fabric ribbon. "What do you mean?" I asked innocently, suddenly picturing those bargain bins full of snowman paper, cartoon santas, and product-placements (SpongeBob wrapping paper? you have got to be kidding.) "You know, the KID paper," she said. I knew what she meant, but refused to acknowledge it. "This is good paper," I said. "Look how heavy and pretty! And the bows...?"

She was clearly unsatisfied, and at first I was puzzled. After all, when I was a kid, everyone got the same wrapping paper. If Mom decided it was going to be snowmen, then snowmen it was, for everyone. If Mom got a wild hair and decided this year it was all white with red bows, so be it. There was no special "kid" category, for wrapping paper or anything else. No kid movies: we watched that damn "Bridge on the River Kwai" on channel 45 on Sundays, and maybe Wizard of Oz and Charlie Brown Christmas when they came on TV. No special kid food either: I actually was told to eat what the family ate, and if I wouldn't, I either sat at the table until 11 o' clock, or was sent to bed in a fit of pique.

Don't get me wrong--I was horribly spoiled. But this product category, juvenalia, simply didn't exist when I was seven. Toys, sure, and they were advertised on Saturday morning cartoons. And cereal maybe, or even peanut butter. But whole different sets of Christmas wrap? Whole new categories of dinner, designed to appeal to the most immature tastes? Whole new designs for cars based on children's need to alpha-wave in front of DVDs all the time? No. None of that. It simply didn't exist.

If it had, back then when I was seven, I'm pretty sure my parents would have purchased all of it, just to get me to be quiet. But the fact is, it wasn't an option. And now it is, and when my seven year old asks me, where's the kid wrapping paper, I feel remiss. As though I've forgotten something--where IS that SpongeBob paper? And why did I balk at it in the store? Isn't it all in good fun, after all?

The worst part is that I'm buying into the adult version of the same thing. While there was none of that kid-centered stuff when I was little, neither were there a whole lot of options for fashionable adults. Now we have Target and I can get good-looking Christmas decor for cheap, and nice towels, and cute baby shoes, and headphones, and well-designed teapots and chopsticks and placemats and bras and sheets and.... all for cheap, built on the back of the third-world labor force, marketed directly into my reptilian brainstem, and resonating there like a gong.


At 6:38 AM, Blogger sweetney said...

have you been reading my mind (or, alternately, my blog)?

note: http://www.sweetney.com/archives/000149.html


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