It’s Christmas Eve, and I cannot wait for Christmas Day—if only to shut my son up about wanting an Xbox 360. For the entire month of December, I’ve heard nothing else from his mouth except how much he wants an Xbox so he can play the game, Minecraft. When he first heard about this game, he thought he could only play it on a computer.

“Absolutely not!” I told him. “You cannot download it onto my computer.” I kept imagining it eating up all my laptop’s memory like little Pac-men, or infecting it with a porn-like virus. I was however, excited he was interested in a game that didn’t involve blood and machine guns and swearing. So I brought my old laptop in to get fixed—the one that fell off the couch while my son was chasing the dog; yes, the one that stopped working the instant it hit the floor; and yes, the one I cried over when it happened.

This will be his Christmas gift, I told myself in November, since he’ll eventually need a laptop for school as well. But then we went to a friend’s house a few nights later, and their son was playing Minecraft on an Xbox. When we left their house that night, my son was like an over-excited boy who had already reached puberty and had just touched his first set of naked breasts.

“Wow! I can’t believe he has Minecraft on an Xbox,” he exclaimed. “Did you see that, Mom? Did you?” “Yup,” I mumbled. “It’s so much easier to play it on an Xbox than it is a laptop. I want an Xbox, Mom.”

“I don’t think so,” I said, and expected to never hear about it again. Ahaha, silly girl that I am! Little did I know every day from there on out, I would indeed, hear about it. I heard about my son wanting an Xbox at all hours of the day and night. “Guess what I dreamed about, Mom?” he’d ask first thing in the morning. “A laptop?” I’d say hopefully. “No, playing Minecraft on an Xbox.” “Guess what I’m going to dream about tonight, Mom?” “Puppies?” “No, playing Minecraft on an Xbox.”

And on and on it went.

His obsessive-compulsiveness kicked into high gear. “I sooo want an Xbox. Are you going to get me an Xbox, Mom? Mom?” He’d follow me into the bathroom, and I’d push him out and slam the door. “Mom?” he’d whisper at the door. “Can you at least think about getting me an Xbox 360 while you’re going to the bathroom?”

I tried to talk him out of wanting one; tried to convince him a laptop was way better, but it didn’t work. His steel-trap mind was set. Less than one week to go until Christmas, and I had a dilemma: Should I stick my son with a laptop he doesn’t really want, and risk seeing the disappointment on his face on Christmas Day—even though it may teach him a valuable lesson about life being full of disappointment? Or should I get him exactly what he wants even though I really can’t afford it, just to witness the sheer pleasure of seeing joy on my boy’s face, thus reinforcing the fact that he’s spoiled, always gets everything he wants, and has Mommy twisted around his little finger?

Do I need to tell you which way I went?



My son turned 10 on Friday. I threw him an Angry Birds theme pool party. If I never see another one of those little fuckers again, that’d be all right with me. An angry bird, that is. The kids were fine—unruly and demanding, in that way kids can get when they’re jacked-up on lots of sugar and the pizza delivery guy arrives an hour later than he’s supposed to.

Being that I couldn’t afford to have a petting zoo at the party, and jumpers are no fun when it’s almost a hundred degrees outside (I kept envisioning a turkey roasting inside one of those cooking bags), I thought it’d be kinda fun to organize games where the kids could win prizes. I might not be crafty like Martha Stewart, but I may be able to give Julie McCoy, Cruise Director if she were on Valium, a run for her money.

Problem was, when it came time to give the winners their prizes, they’d already all been scoured over by the losers. And when it came time for the treasure hunt where each kid was supposed to have a turn, all bets were off if you couldn’t find the angry bird eraser fast enough. I cajoled, I pleaded, I threatened—

It went from:

(In my best Julie Andrews voice from The Sound of Music) “Now, now, Children, everyone must get a turn, it’s only fair. You want to be good boys and girls, don’t you?” to:

“Please, if you don’t settle down quickly, I’ll have to double my dosage of meds tonight.” And, finally:

“If you don’t knock it off, all you little demons are going to Hell!” (Imagine this being screamed using the voice of the crazy bus driver in the South Park cartoons)

It didn’t matter what I said to these kids. It was “to each his own,” “live or let die,” “the weakest will have his body eaten if we’re stranded on a deserted island for weeks after a plane crash.” A friend said to me after, “I definitely can’t see you as a school teacher responsible for 30 children,” which goes to show you how well my hunt turned out.

At the end of the day, my feet hurt, I hadn’t eaten, I was sunburned, and I didn’t even get to have a piece of cake. Two days later, I still feel like I’m hung over from the preparation, execution, and clean-up of it all. Now I know why parents spend $500 bucks to have John’s Incredible Pizza host their party.

I think the sheer joy and excitement seen in my son’s eyes was worth it, although it’s debatable. I got him everything he wanted for his birthday—a habit of mine that I seriously questioned this year. I thought about giving him one present only— a soccer ball, and a used one at that. Considered the fact that I was probably creating a spoiled, self-centered kid; that he should learn sooner rather than later what disappointment truly means, since life is full of it. But I couldn’t do it. As a mother, I’m admittedly too soft.

Before we went to sleep that night, I realized for the first time in 9 years, my son’s father didn’t call for his birthday. Didn’t send a card, or gift. I’m not sure whether or not my son noticed. If he had, he didn’t mention it. He thanked me again for throwing him his party, and for getting him the best presents ever.

“I know you worked really hard, Mom, so I’m going to give you a massage,” he told me. As he worked his little magic for 15 seconds, with his “two-finger massage” on my shoulders, I knew it wasn’t up to me to teach him what disappointment was. That honor has already been bestowed upon his father.