First World Problems: The Gift of Percussion
First World Problems is a weekly advice column for India’s first world population. Write to Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org (confidentially!) if you’ve broken a nail, felt a little blue, yellow or green lately,
or had a strange encounter of the any-numbered kind.
PROBLEM: My daughter’s birthday is coming up. I don’t like the types of gifts my family and friends give her (flashing lights, battery-operated), but I hate disappointing my child, who wants to play with her new toys, by taking them away. Is there a polite way to inform party attendees in advance that we would prefer educational toys?
Welcome to parenthood: you have zero control over your child’s tastes and preferences and the more you try to shape them, the more you’ll push her away in the opposite direction. Might as well consider these flashing lights necessary training in being the kind of parent who is…well, not you. I mean, you’d rather have no presents at a CHILD’s birthday party than endure some basic tackiness? You have any idea how many people gifted my daughter whistles, all kinds of percussion instruments and the worst one yet – those gaudy orange cars that open and close their doors automatically and sing ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’? And yet here we are, safe and sound on the other side with no trace of flashing lights or Aqua. She’s into Katy Perry now and while I don’t get this either, I know it could be worse. I mean, I think our parents had it worse. Just imagine what 90’s grunge must’ve done to sweet, John-Denver-loving parents? And yet, here we are as well. And we turned out alright. I think.
But those relatives who gave my daughter whistles and percussion? I will find them. And I will kill them.
PROBLEM: I have a gym acquaintance. We chitchat while at the gym but have never seen each other outside in the real world. So it’s not like we’re close. She has clearly made a resolution to step up her exercise, and somehow I am included in that. Now in class she is yelling at me to push harder. I’m fine with my level of effort. How do I tell her to back off and focus on herself.
‘Back off and focus on yourself’ works for me. This person is clearly bats. I mean, a friend who makes you push harder and get the best out of your time at the gym? You don’t need this sort of energy in your life. Nobody does.