Today I had yet another of the experiences that have peppered the past few months. I was looking at baby items (this time, baby books) and felt myself being driven to cynicism. Rather than chime in with “Oh, how perfect,” I could feel myself wanting to burst out with “Exhibit A of the fall of civilization.” Why do makers of children’s things try so hard to make things cute? I mean, we’re talking babies here; it shouldn’t be a hard sell!
Today’s example: baby books that are perhaps somewhat too helpful with their “prompts” for mommy and daddy to fill in their child’s firsts and special moments. Some of the books read like scripts: “When I rolled over on my own for the first time Mommy exclaimed __________________” and “When Daddy changed me for the first time he thought __________________.” For tired parents who need some help in making sure they don’t forget the story of their child, I completely understand the desire for a book that won’t let that happen. But there’s something about those blanks, forcing a feeling, and allotting only so much space for it (like 2nd grade homework) that makes me balk. And make up stories. So by the time I flipped to one that read “When Daddy learned I was going to be born he thought ________________,” I had to force myself to close the page before I finished the thought that began “How did that hap—?” And that, my friends, is the same book that sported the largest bow I’ve seen outside the car-giveaways on The Price Is Right.
I have one of those baby books… My mom filled in the parts that she thought were relevant (like how overweight I was, how I liked carrots) and as time passed in the book, the number of unfilled blanks increased dramatically and then there’s just a random card from my first birthday taped to the back cover. I love it, because I feel like when (not if) I get one of those books one day, that’s exactly how mine will look, as well.
When I was first born, in that first special moment between mother and child, the nurse tenderly asked my mom if she wanted to hold me for the first time and she said, “Nah, you can wipe her off first.” There just wasn’t a “blank” for that moment. 🙂
A friend gave me this Nikki McClure journal http://www.buyolympia.com/q/Item=first1000days
for this very reason. No writing prompts, just page titles, a few illustrations, and lots of room to write whatever you please.
Deb (Kris Freed’s older sister)