Monday, June 4th, 2007
Gifts for a Third Birthday
As my daughter’s third birthday approaches I’m realizing it is the most exciting birthday to date. By age 3 my daughter has a well-developed concept of what a party is and that she’ll receive gifts. She also has needs and desires.
So, it is the first birthday for which we’ll be giving truly thoughtful gifts. Hey, not that our previous gifts were lousy, but I have no memory of them. Grandma gave our Little Miss a Big Belly Bank at age 2, and it’s still very much enjoyed today, but it was something we wanted for our daughter, not that she knew she wanted.
Here are the three gifts we’re giving and why:
1) A plush Dinosaur Bob. Our history with Bob began two years ago when I stumbled upon an exquisitely illustrated board book called Life with Bob. It was written and illustrated by William Joyce, whom you may know as the force behind PBS’ George Shrinks or the films Meet the Robinsons and Robots.
My daughter fell in love with Bob and by our third Bob book, Baseball Bob, we were singing a song included on the last page, The Ballad of Dinosaur Bob, at bedtime.
A plush Bob was sold in a 1990s book promotion. After scouring the web for this toy, I configured my eBay account to e-mail me when one came up for auction. Hey, it only took 20 months! He’s in great condition and machine washable — my first thought upon receiving any plush animal.
2) A coin purse. Somewhere after her second birthday my daughter began playing “grocery store cashier.” This progressed to her wanting to pay for merchandise when in a real store.
When we leave our home, she carries two or three coins that she calls her “paying money” and she dutifully hands them to cashiers who play along. We initially gave her my wife’s used bi-fold wallet that had no zipper, but the coins kept falling out.
So we’re giving her a mint condition mini-wallet with three zippered pockets that we found at a garage sale. I felt kind of silly having my wife covertly pass me a wallet so I could secretly buy it for a quarter without my daughter noticing.
This gift has long-term value. I can’t wait for the day a few years from now when she begs for a toy she sees in a store and I get to ask, “How much money is in your coin purse? Can you afford it?”
3) A library card. Three months ago we were talking about birthdays and asked Little Miss what she wanted for hers. That’s right, she wanted a library card, and flowers. Could I be more proud? It doesn’t hurt that her friend got her own card at age 2. The librarians are cool with the situation as long as my daughter can scribble something we’ll call a signature, wink wink.
It was the need for a coherent scribble that led us to creating our own tracing book. And what do ya know, she can keep her new library card in her wallet.
Now, I can’t talk about libraries without re-fawning over the parenting book Baby Read-Aloud Basics. Read to your kid every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. It’s completely worth it.
Last week, Miss told Mom after dinner she was ready to have her teeth brushed. Once in the bathroom she refused. When questioned about her earlier statement she said, and I’m not kidding, “I want to redact that,” meaning she wanted to revise her statement.
Granted, she probably heard Mom or Dad speak the word in conversation, but books are still the great equalizer for vocabulary. No matter a Mom or Dad’s education level and the amount of conversation in a home, reading books to your child exposes him or her to a wide range of words.
I personally believe the relationship between hearing a story read and looking at corresponding pictures in a book helps train a toddler to be more adept at picking up word meanings by analyzing the situations in which the words are used. We can’t possibly have said “redact” more than once in front of her, and I’m certain Dinosaur Bob didn’t say it.
Come to think of it, Dinosaur Bob plays a horn, loves card games, paints pictures and is crackerjack on a baseball field, but the plucky green Apatosaurus never speaks.