Everyone knows children get special treatment. We whine and complain about how annoying they are, frustrating they are, how stressful they are, and then when they actually do something worthy of punishment? We treat them more leniently than the NFL treats the Patriots.
We’re so blinded by stupid unconditional love that we give our kids more free passes than CVS gives coupons. Never is this glaring inequality more prominent than around the holidays.
Mother’s Day gifts are the perfect example.
The difference between what a child can successfully gift Mommy and what a man can successfully gift the mother of his children is the difference between Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk. But the only person who ends up green is me, green with envy over how ridiculously easy it is for my son to please his mom.
I’m over here sweating bullets, hoping I remembered which flowers are her favorite and praying that her smile isn’t fake, meanwhile he hands her a collection of dandelions – actual weeds! – and she swoons. I should have known the person we celebrated when he first peed standing up was going to get off easy.
You’re damn right I’m always angry. Here’s why.
The Great Mother’s Day Gift Discrepancy
Kid: An un-sprouted and unlikely-to-ever-sprout seed pod sitting stagnant in two inches of dirt inside a Dixie cup.
Cost: ZERO (unless you count what his teacher spends)
Husband: An expensive arrangement of her favorite flowers, in a vase, with a heartfelt note, ordered from an online vendor that utilizes local florists to ensure freshness but that actually never shows up so you spend the entire holiday making it up to your wife while swearing that you definitely ordered them. When they finally arrive the next day, the bloom is already off the rose, LITERALLY, and nothing can change the fact that you blew it.
Cost: $50 – $100, limitless grief
Kid: A smeared hand print of primary colors on a crumpled piece of paper that may or may not include a glued-on Popsicle stick and some grotesquely-shaped letters.
Husband: I’m supposed to know about art now? And be able to afford something legitimate? And I already bought her a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster. Should I go with another Story People even though the drawings haunt my dreams? Maybe, but with which quote? Forget it, I’ll just frame a family picture; that heartfelt shit usually flies.
Cost: $25 – $100,000. Years off my life
Kid:It literally doesn’t matter what the food is, so long as the kid at least partially participates in its crafting (i.e., stands nearby while you do everything), or even just carries it to Mommy. It can be her favorite food (that Daddy) cooked to perfection and delivered by a smiling child, or it can be burnt toast, raw chicken and one of the kid’s half-eaten string cheeses. Mommy’s heart will burst regardless.
Cost: To the kid? ZERO. He doesn’t even have a bank account. Wake up.
Husband: A pre-arranged, fancy brunch at a much-heralded restaurant that required a reservation six-months in advance and is crawling with other families and their kids, including yours, who is still basking in the glow of his successful burnt toast delivery while he watches a cartoon on the tablet, your wife sips her fourth mimosa, and you pray for football season.
Cost: Your dignity. You had to go to brunch.
Kid: Everything you do surprises her every day. You are her heart made flesh. Just you being you makes her happier than she ever imagined possible.
Husband: She is sick of spelling it out for you. Maybe if you’d just listen, you’d know that she just wants some romance, some passion, some goddamn spontaneity, and for you to plan something by yourself for once! It doesn’t matter what it is, because it means everything to her when you take it upon yourself and arrage a date night or a family day or a quick, impromptu weekend trip away. But it had better be fucking good or you’ll be hearing about it for the next six months or until her birthday or from your marriage counselor, whichever comes first.
Cost: Your sanity.
Kid: Macaroni on a string. If the kid’s old enough, maybe a useless, misshapen piece of pottery.
Husband: It’s all about the Cs: Color, cut, clarity, carat, crying, credit card debt and canceling cable, just to get a little more leeway. What am I, made of money? This is like the tenth holiday that I need to buy expensive shit to prove my love and that doesn’t even count all the impromptu gifts I’m expected to surprise her with, I mean, Christ!
Cost: Actually verbalize that last part and it’ll probably cost you your marriage.
Happy Mother’s Day!