November 15, 2008

Purple Unicorn

I was watching We Don't Live Here Anymore, but I get uncomfortable when a movie tries to indicate marital/life dissatisfaction via crying children, messy kitchen counters, messy hair, spitting out toothpaste, cereal bowls on the table, fighting children chasing each other through the clutter as the parent pleads ineffectually for them to stop, etc. It gives me too vivid a picture to superimpose over my OWN life, which seems happy until I see the elements of it used in film-making to indicate unhappiness. So I thought I'd take a little break.

Paul was talking with Elizabeth and Edward about Christmas (they don't really remember last Christmas), and it came to light during this conversation that Elizabeth was confidently expecting to receive a unicorn. And not just "a" unicorn but a PURPLE unicorn. Paul tried to delicately extract more information, such as WHY she thought she was getting a purple unicorn, or such as how she knew about unicorns since as far as we know we've never mentioned unicorns before, but he got nowhere except to reaffirm that the child didn't just WANT a purple unicorn, she ASSUMED a purple unicorn. Like, obv, Christmas = unicorn.

This reminded both of us of two Christmases ago when William was in kindergarten, and he revealed to Paul that he was looking forward to the nutcracker he would be receiving for Christmas. This was the first Paul and I had heard about it. So the next day (which was the day before Christmas Eve, and Christmas Eve is the day we celebrate Christmas, so basically it was Christmas Eve if you follow me), I went out to Target with William and was all, "Oh, hey, look at these nutcrackers, is this the kind of thing you're, um....?" and it was a good thing I DID because Paul and I were thinking of a The Nutcracker kind of nutcracker, like this guy:


but William was thinking of this:


I found a gift set that came with a nutcracker and an assortment of nuts (but no scary dental-looking picks), and I brazened it out: I put it in the cart under something else, and bought it right in front of him, counting on his humming-along-obliviously personality to carry us through, and indeed it did. As soon as we got home I wrapped it and "Oh look what's that over there"d it under the tree, and it was the hit of Christmas and I had to buy another enormous bag of nuts for him to crack open because he'd gone through all the ones that came with the set. And happily for me, he didn't even want to EAT the nuts, he just wanted to crack them open, so I got a child bringing me a fresh bowl of snacks every hour or so while I sat there reading my Christmas present books in peace because he was so totally absorbed in the cracking.

With this experience behind us, Paul and I felt motivated to find a purple unicorn. We don't think of Christmas as an opportunity to fulfill a child's every material wish, and in fact we generally find it a useful opportunity to cruelly/kindly teach children about how we don't always get what we want, but there is something particularly irresistible about a child who doesn't understand this yet and who wants something so reasonable.

I went online and found a purple Beanie Baby one that was $15 ($15 for a Beanie Baby?) plus another $5 for shipping ($20 for a Beanie Baby?), but then I found this much larger unicorn for $15 with free shipping:


It's a make-your-own, but I'm just going to make it myself and give it to her already-made. For one thing, she's too young to even want to make it herself, and for another thing, I am not the right kind of parent to assist with that project, because I am not relaxed enough to watch a child stuff twice as much stuffing into one leg as into another, and also because I find the whole thing really gross: you get a limp animal skin, and it seems DEAD, and then you're supposed to coach the child to mess around with the skinned animal's new, fake innards and implant a "wish" and so forth, and you know FORGET IT. I'll do it myself and spare her the dead unicorn skin and me the uneven stuffing.

26 comments:

Annika said...

The thought of a five year old wanting that kind of nutcracker is kind of killing me dead over here.

Mimi said...

Well yeah, didn't you hear? Christmas totally means getting a purple unicorn. I mean, it wouldn't be Christmas without one.

I love the nutcracker story. Kids are goofy! =)

Hotch Potchery said...

The nutcracker story is awesome, and wouldn't all of our holidays be better if accompanied by a purple unicorn?

Our biggest Christmas success was a chalk board the year the older one was in kindergarden and thought chalkboards were the coolest. She had NO idea there were chalkboards you could have at. your. very. own. house.

Mairzy said...

Every time you post something about how William thinks, it makes me laugh for days.

I'm so with Elizabeth on the purple unicorn. You're a good mom to keep Christmas alive for her. :)

edbteach said...

Can I borrow William? I love nuts but hate to crack them! I'm glad ya'll were able to determine the correct nutcracker for him.

As for your story about animal skins and stuffing - I laughed so loud I almost woke my son up!

Thanks for the great post!

bluedaisy said...

I love the way children think! BTW, my best friend in 4th grade: favorite animal-unicorn, favorite color- purple. Is there some unknown connection? Just thought that was interesting.

Omaha Mama said...

Cute unicorn! For people who like the color purple and horned horses. Like any girl under the age of 12! My B would love that and totally wants one of those stuff it yourself animals (and I have the same issues as you). So when my B was two, she asked Santa for a giraffe. But she was asking for a REAL giraffe, like the ones she so loved at the zoo. She got a stuffed one when I told her Santa could bring zoo animals on his sleigh.

Melissa H said...

nutcracker story--best ever!!

Anna said...

Nutcracker = waaaay better than a can opener. I never heard of a stuff-it-yourself animal! That's a great purple unicorn, there.

Badness Jones said...

That's awesome! One of the things that the Princess wanted this year is some kind of Strawberry Shortcake castle, and God knows where she saw it, but they must not make it anymore but you can buy it on Amazon for like $80, $80 for a pile of crappy plastic! We had to have a discussion about how sometimes Santa likes to bring us surprises, and sometimes we only get one of the things we ask for. It's much more fun when you can fulfill their craziest wishes!

Nowheymama said...

Katherine's "Christmas equals" gift when she was two was a vacuum. Obviously. We found a kiddie cleaning cart for $20. She still plays with it five years later.

This year, Eli wants a Lego R@cers racecar. That is what Santa brings, clearly. I found one for $3.99 and am going to Superglue it together before Christmas. (This will make the "ages 6-12" toy safe for an almost-three year old.)

Becky said...

@bluedaisy:

There was a series of books called Sweet Valley Twins I read growing up. (Written, presumably, for the tween who was not yet ready for the "adult situations" in Sweet Valley High.)

There was a club in the books called the Unicorns, and they ALWAYS wore purple. They made a point of mentioning it in every! single! book! Maybe that's where your friend got the idea that purple + unicorn = awsome.

Astarte said...

Oh, I really liked that movie a lot, in an artsy kind of way. I like all the actors in it, which helped.

That's so funny that she's just adamant about the unicorn thing! I agree totally about the pre-stuffing, because it would probably totally turn her off otherwise. It would me, I know that. Yuck.

Erin said...

Awesome. It's a beautiful purple unicorn too.

This is hilarious. I was just thinking about writing a similar post. We have Cal's bday and Christmas coming up, and I have no clue what to get him. I've asked him numerous times if there's something he wants and every time he says, "star horses!" Huh?

Hillary said...

I am totally with you on making your own stuffed animals. Gross. I am creeped out everytime I walk past one of those places in the mall.

Love the nutcracker story!

Kelsey said...

I snorted my beverage at all the dead animal talk, because you are so right! I am not a huge stuffed animal person in general, but I really find the whole Build-a-Bear phenomenon kind of annoying. You know how there are some things you really want to do with your kids and don't want another to do first? Well I will happily pass off build-a-bear duty to one of Harper's aunts or grandmothers. Yech. That unicorn is PERFECT and I totally support the pre-stuffing decision.

I love the nutcracker story. I subbed in a first grade class last year that had a basket of nuts and a nutcracker sitting out on a sensory experience table. (Of course it made me nervous about all the nut dust in the room and I was worried about what I'd track home! But apparently it's a big hit with five- and six-year-olds the world over.)

Devan said...

hahaha! Too funny about the nutcracker. Perfect. lol

Cute unicorn.

Vicky said...

Love the nutcracker story. A purple unicorn makes every holiday better.

Nellyru said...

A nutcracker...that is hilarious! And what in the heck would he have done if you HAD gotten him one of those weird nutcrackery men instead??

Maybe the stuffed unicorn could wear these leggings, too?
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=sr_gallery_10&listing_id=17395766

mpotter said...

i love the nutcracker story. how bizarre.

glad you found a purple unicorn.

how cute!

Michelle said...

Oh that cracks me UP! Good thing you checked. Did you (learning from the last experience) verify that a purple unicorn in her definition is the same purple unicorn that you discovered?

Smiling Mama said...

That nut cracker thing is SO funny! My parents tell me that every single year as a kid I'd start talking about a never-before-mentioned present that I was SURE Santa would bring me--about 2 days before Christmas. So, they learned to just not buy one gift for me so they'd be ready to dash out and buy it. Too funny!!!

Michelle said...

I totally have a blow-up purple unicorn (I believe it is of the My Little Pony variety) that we got at the state fair and has been totally neglected in our garage. I can deflate it and send it, though it is admittedly not nearly as cool as the one you have proposed to purchase and also may eventually be remembered with a, "Mommy, Where's my Pony?" Oh crap, never mind. I'll keep the damn thing.

Julie said...

This friend of mine got a nutcracker from his parents every year for Christmas,(the fancy decorative kind you originally thought your son wanted). They thought they were creating a nice collection for him that he would cherish when he grew up. Interestingly enough, he was terrified of them, much like a small child might be terrified of clowns or something like that, but he never had the heart to tell his parents, so he just lived in fear of them for years. It makes me wonder what my little baby boy thinks of Holiday symbols like Jack-o-lanterns and elves and Santa that we're constantly waving in front of his face. I guess its feasible that they're creepy to him. Hmm.

Jess said...

At first I thought you meant that she wanted a real unicorn, like a live one. Good thing that's not the case, huh?

Also, that nutcracker story is awesome. I can't believe he wanted that! Your kids are fantastic.

Sylvie said...

I love the visual aids in this post. I was also thinking the first kind of nutcracker and seeing the picture of the second one made me laugh out loud, which is lovely because I am having a most stressful job these days, so a laugh-out-loud moment is great.