This year, about a day after DH started his new job, I was on the way to meet a job candidate for breakfast. Just as I was driving into the parking lot, the radio made an announcement for one of those adopt a child for Christmas things, where you get a child’s Christmas list and buy things off it. The point of contact, coincidentally, was the restaurant whose parking lot I was driving into. As I walked up to my regular “meeting the job candidate” table, right at eye-level on a Christmas tree was a tag for a girl with my first name, the age of DC1.
The coincidences were too much not to be taken as a sign, so I pulled the tag and figured I’d shop for the items the next weekend. She wanted a “Dora the Explorer doll.” Immediately I started thinking about the Dora related merchandize I could get, shirts and socks and books and so on.
Upon closer examination, the girl’s simple request was more complicated than I had suspected. First off, there are something like 100+ different Dora the Explorer dolls. Since my DC1 is unusual, I asked our secretary’s daughter (age 8) what she thought this 6 year old could be wanting, and she said probably one of the big ($34) plush ones, and not one of the ($11) figures. Her mom said she always did the Christmas adopt a child thing (one adoption for each of her kids) and suggested Toys R Us.
I reserved a Dora book at our local Barnes and Noble so we could just drop in and pick it up. I wanted one with words and buttons to push because DC1 has loved hir button pushing Dora books for about 4 years now (even if technically they’ve been passed down to DC2).
First stop, shoes size 13… but, of course, Target hides those. After a lot of fruitless searching, I found some acceptable sneakers shelved with the size 1s. I tried to find some dress-shoes too, but gave up. Target did not have any of the plush Dora dolls, and it only had one of the $29 large doll versions (Sleepy-time Dora), but her hair was totally messed up and the packaging somewhat beat up. Then I thought, Dora underpants would be kind of neat… but they do not make Dora underpants in size 8 (or at least, Amazon says they do, but they’re hard to get and definitely not stocked at Target– they only go up to size 6 in Dora). So I wavered between size 6 Dora underpants and size 8 regular girl’s underpants, and went with the size 6. Similarly, Dora socks only seem to come in toddler sizes, and I was overwhelmed there not knowing quite what size I wanted or what I was looking for in socks.
I know this is ridiculous, but my MIL buys most of DC1 and DC2′s clothing, except for school uniforms, and we’re told exactly what to order from Land’s End. The rest comes hand-me-down from various colleagues and neighbors. I almost never have to buy kids’ clothing. So, yes, I should know what socks go with a size 13 shoe, but I don’t. Also DC1 is a bit on the small size, so we’re not quite there yet.
Then I made it to the clothing and had a hard time finding anything in size 7. And I had no idea what to get. So finally I sought out DH and DC1 (found them in the cat section, as we’ve got 3 new backyard residents we have to get acclimated and to the vet.. more on that in the future) and made them look. That didn’t help much. Then DH vetoed size 6 underpants for someone who was size 7, and I forgot to get the size 8 underpants when I put back the size 6. Or maybe I thought Toys R Us would have underpants and socks (they didn’t) because we once got training pants for DC1 there (which is completely irrelevant when you’re looking for a 6 year old).
Finally I got a pair of matching black (because everyone looks good in black) yoga/sweat pants and a hoodie with colorful peace symbols on it. All the jeans there were skinny jeans and I was concerned that a 6 year old who liked Dora the Explorer (suggesting an age closer to 5 than to 7) but was size 7 might be something other than skinny.
Then to Toys R Us. They also did not have the plush $34 Dora doll, but they did have better versions of the $29 plush + plastic head dolls. I picked out Baby-sitting Dora over Sleepy-time Dora, because I thought baby Boots was cute. While there I also picked up another 3 Dora books, including one with buttons that make noise. Realized I forgot underpants and socks.
Then to Barnes and Noble to pick up the last book. At this point DC1 and I both had seriously low blood sugar and had to stop at the cafe which took a long time and cost more than it should have.
As I write this, I’m trying to figure out when I’m going to make it back to the store to get some final clothing items, or if I’m just going to take it in as-is. She didn’t ask for underwear and socks, but a lot of the kids do. (Why are underpants and socks so important? Because you can’t buy them used and you rarely get them as hand-me-downs.) It would also be nice to get a lighter weather shirt too, and not just the hoodie.
So what did I learn? Turns out I HATE shopping. I seriously hate shopping. (Also I learned that almost all Dora clothing maxes out at 6x.) It’s not about the money– we’re feeling pretty flush in the pocket and given that most of the kids ask for bikes, spending another $20 on books and $20 on the clothing set and $10 on underpants and $5 on socks (and probably another $20 on shirts if I can find any, possibly $20 on a dress if I can find any) isn’t much in the grand scheme of things for us (though it surely is quite a bit for someone who qualifies for this program). It’s about having something in mind and then not being able to find it and then having to make choices and having to think, “what if she looks terrible in this color? what if it doesn’t fit? what if she hates this? what if she already has this? what if this is the wrong kind?” And then more sinister thoughts, “Should I include the receipt? If I do, what if someone exchanges the gifts for something not for the kid? If I don’t, what if the clothing is too small or this is the wrong doll?” (In the end, I went with including the Toys R Us receipt but not the Target receipt, mainly because we bought other stuff at Target and didn’t get a separate gift receipt.) I just don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with all these decisions. And it took so much time just trying to find things.
Next year if I get the same sign, I’m totally going to make a note to myself to just go to the damn webpage and press the “donate here and we’ll shop for you” button.
(Update: Walmart, which we normally avoid for various reasons, allows you to purchase online and pick-up at the store, similarly to what we did with B&N. And they have more size 7 stuff in stock than Target did. And they have size 8 Dora underpants. $40 of clothing later, including a very pretty black and white dress, I feel as if I’ve done a reasonably decent job. Also I went through MIL’s size 7 offerings still with tags since DC1 always has more clothes than ze needs and added a bunch of shirts of various colors and styles. Still, next time I’m just gonna give the ~$100.)
Do you enjoy the process of shopping? Would you pay someone to do it for you if you could?