What to buy the 3 year old who has everything

Following hot on the heels (where hot on the heels means two years later) of “What to Buy the Baby Who Has Everything“, comes What to Buy the 3 year old Who Has Everything. The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N has turned 3, so I guess he’s not really a toddler anymore. He is officially a little boy. For simplicity’s sake let’s call him LB. 

Having already had 3 male 3 year olds (and three 3 year old birthdays and parties already), I have just about every toy a 3 year old could dream of (daytime nap or nighttime long sleep). An extensive Brio & Thomas train track collection. Cars. Enough Duplo to build a small apartment. I have an entire Little People city. Octonauts, complete with Gups and and Octpod. Scooter? Yep. Tricycle? Yep. Sand / water play table? Yep. We have a library of books. We have a marble run. We have a wooden castle. We have a toy kitchen and lots of pretend food, as well as a mini espresso machine (for those early daycare mornings). We have Hot Wheels. We have a singing, playing Elmo, and a singing Iggle Piggle. We have Aquaplay. And most importantly, we have Magnatiles. I could keep going for about 10 pages. 

But you cannot NOT buy your three year old presents just because he is the 4th boy to turn 3 in the house. Yes, I could operate a crèche without having to purchase a thing, but that is not what birthdays are about. It doesn’t matter that LB doesn’t need anything. He’s a little boy and he deserves to open a few presents and have some of his own belongings in a house where everything already belongs to someone else. Especially when this is the first birthday that he understands that it is HIS birthday and HE gets to open and keep the gifts.

So what do you buy this Litte Boy who has everything a little boy could possibly want? 

1. We bought him MORE DUPLO. Yes we did. We hadn’t actually added to our Duplo collection since Cooking Child was 3 – that’s 7 years ago (Master 8 went straight to Lego. By the time he was 2, his brothers were 4 & 6, were Lego obsessed, and so Master-then-2 just joined the Lego brigade). ANYWAY (gosh this is confusing with all these children), I bought this:


With a little digger to go with because LB LOVES diggers.


I seem to have ridiculous luck with Myer toy sales – there always seems to be one the week before my boys’ birthdays. With an extra 10% off for Myer One members (It’s free –  why wouldn’t you join? They send you gift vouchers every few months as a reward for shopping. For shopping. Let’s just go over this again – they reward me for shopping).

                                   ***

2. Maxi Micro scooter from my in-laws. Almost immediately after LB started walking, he began scooting. Our Mini Micro scooter (a hand me down from Master 8) has really earned its keep (and inflated price tag). But LB is no lightweight, and he is the height of a 5 year old. I imagine that when a child stands on the scooter board, it is supposed to stay flat, not submit into a concave depression. And so we have updated LB to the model that Master 8 still happily zooms around on today. LB calls it his “big boy scooter”. 


We got the silver. Personally I love the  brights but the silver was 25% off at Entropy a few months ago, so that’s what I ordered. Plus the silver is timeless. Classy. For the refined toddler.

                                   ***

3. My parents bought LB this:


Ever since we went to London 9 months ago, LB has been obsessed with all things London. Especially a book that my cousin gave him while we were there. It’s about 3 animal characters who go through London……in fact I can’t tell you what it’s about because LB has never let me actually read the story to him. Each page features a different famous site so LB simply shrieks “We went there!” and then he provides a bit more information like “WE went on the London eye!”, or “WE went to Buckhingham palace and saw the Queem” (this is not a typo, nor is it strictly true)”, or “WE went to Trafalgar Square and saw the Lion while you were SHOPPING, mummy”. Or my personal favourite “WE went to The British Musuem and saw the Mummies……and the daddies!!”. 

When I saw the London Bus I knew that LB would love it. But there was also a fine looking Fire Engine that I thought he would love, too.

LB has learnt from Cooking Child how to play imaginitively but there is no imaginitive game played in this house without a natural disaster or some dire situation that requires a rescue mission. How well the Fire Engine would fit into our home, and how many great imaginative play opportunities it would present. 

So LB got that too.

You would be extremely surprised how many dangerous situations London Buses can find themselves in, that require emergency assistance from a one man Fire Engine. 

                                     ***

Then there were the brothers’ presents. Some of you may think that LB had already scored a bountiful loot and should count his little blessings and go and play with his lovely new toys. And you’d be right. BUT my big boys would not accept that he had plenty already – they want to give him their OWN presents. And so the shopping continued.

Cooking Child wanted to give a gift individually. As in he wanted to choose it AND pay for it. And so I suggested:

4. 


$12 from K-Mart. This was the perfect brother present. Cheap and we knew he would love it. Like billions of children, LB loves bubbles. He wants so many, and so often, that I get dizzy and have to sit down from all the deep breathing. Anyone with a toddler knows that the hunt for the holy grail toy (preferably battery free, but hey it was $12), that’s screen free, keeps your toddler entertained for a sustained period of time and does NOT need a parent to participate, is never ending. A bubble machine may well be as close as you are ever going to get. Bonus points for being an outdoor activity. Even more bonus points because LB dances in bubbles so it promotes exercise.

Which leaves:

5. First Born and Master 8 still needed to give LB a present too. And so I went to the TV show gift. LB loves his shows and their associated characters. We could not lose with this. And despite the the fact that he had a bad experience recently meeting real life Duggee, I decided to go with:


after seeing LB mesmerised playing with it in Myer a few weeks ago. Here’s a tip: if you don’t know what to buy your child, take them into a toy department and see what they gravitate towards. Duggee has been a huge success and the only issue with him is his size, and lack of arms to hold him by when LB insists on bringing him out with us, and then insists that I look after Duggee once we’re out.

Anyway that’s a wrap on 3 year old presents, or at least my 3 year old. But you know, same same.

XOXO Shopping Girl
P.S. On writing this blog I have discovered that when I type the letters “LB” my phone autocorrects them to Loom Bands. I am not sure why this is so. But having had to un-autocorrect it each time, I’m thinking maybe the hunt is still on for what to call my 4th child online. This is what it looks like when I leave LB uncorrected: LOOM BANDS.

Advertisements

The Black Hole

First Born is growing. Like a fertilised weed. A very well fertilised weed. Working Boy and I cannot help but notice that every few weeks he has crept a few millimetres closer to that moment where he will be taller than his mother. It could be months away, it could be weeks away, it could be days away, but the moment is coming. They say a watched pot never boils but when your child starts encroaching on your superior height, you can practically see your power slipping away before your eyes. 

With such obvious growth, it somehow still always takes me by surprise when his clothes don’t fit from one year to the next. Or sometimes from one month to the next. As the weather cooled over the last school holidays, it became painfully obvious that First Born needed some new tops. And jumpers. And shirts. And pants. Even undies (Sorry First Born. There was a reason I never told you about my blog). 

First Born’s feet are now a 40. He is a size 16 in clothes. Let me tell you something about these sizes. They are literally the black hole of clothing. They do not exist. Most of the kids shoes finish around a 36. The men’s shoes start at a 41. I am not joking. We have had a good few years now of floating around blindly in shoe no man’s land. Cooking Child is just entering this unenviable phase, as First Born will finally make his entree into men’s shoes. Last year an excellent friend in the same predicament tipped me off that Windsor Smith has some styles starting in a 39. There’s a reason that these days my kids ONLY wear sneakers outside of school and it’s not their sporting prowess. Sneakers seem to be the only shoe form that bridges the gap. Until we emerge firmly in men’s shoes, my kids will live in Nikes. There are worse predicaments in life. 

As for the clothes, some of the brands have TRIED to target the situation, and for a while the gap was bridged – there’s FREE by Cotton On (for 9-14s), Seed Teen, and Pavement. These are my first points of call. But this season…..nothing. There are just so many boringly plain things, or stupidly sloganed. And only Pavement goes to a 16 which means that First Born has grown out of teen sizes but is still not quite ready for men’s.

I have ransacked DJs, where I can generally dress my entire family with ease……nothing fits the bill. Or the boy. I am not stingy when it comes to First Born’s clothing. There are 3 smaller bodies waiting to wear it, so I am more than happy to pay more for something that will last. But I can’t pay for something which does not exist.

I have been to Country Road and the gap between where the boys clothes finish and then Men’s clothes begin is Grand Canyon-esque. 

See that space in between man and child? That space is where all the clothes I need for First Born are hiding. Somewhere between child……and man. I can just see their teen range when it finally emerges (and I’m sure it will)…..County Road: Manchild

So what do I do and where do I go? How do I fill the black hole of shopping?

First, Zara. They opened their kids’ section in WBJ with so little fanfare that even I only realised it was there about 3 months after it opened. Shocking confession, I know. Last year, First Born wanted a white shirt. They had a size 14 shirt which was plain white enough to keep Working Boy happy, with a small twist to keep me happy. Their 13-14 is generously sized so this will keep Cooking Child clothed for a while, at least, though First Born is still in the wasteland. 

I went to Myer. I don’t love shopping at Myer, but their teen boys’ section is reasonably well stocked. I’ve had luck with Mossimo (ha! My autocorrect turned Mossimo into Missoni – who knew the phone had the complexity to make Freudian slips?) and Bauhaus, one of Myer’s in house brands. 

I’ve been trying the smallest size of menswear with mixed results. XXS t-shirt from TopMan? Success. Size 28 chinos from Cotton On? Success. I have bought t-shirts and shirts from Cotton On in size S which First Born tries on and says “It’s a dress”. Interestingly there appear to be size XS and XXS but these options are always blocked out online. I’m not sure if this is because they are not available or whether the more experienced gap mothers snap up all the XXS and XS the second they become available. I’m sure by the time Master T reaches “the gap” I’ll have worked it out. 

The other problem, apart from actual size, with trying to bridge “the gap” by shopping small sizes of menswear is that the styles are often too adult for a twelve year old. And the prices are also too adult (this is why Cotton On’s regular 30% off deals come in handy). 

Speaking of gaps, it occurs to be that one place I have not searched to fill the gap, is, in fact, The GAP. Wouldn’t it be ironic if The GAP actually filled the gap? 

In the meantime, the gap is alive and well, and living in my house. I’m open to suggestions.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

What I bought today # 1

When I was younger, in the late eighties, “matching” was where it was at. I matched my (roll down) socks to my top. And my earrings. And my eye shadow. I loved to match.

The seeds of matching were planted in me young.

20140715-124546.jpg

Dresses courtesy Marks & Spencer – looks like around 1981/2

I’m the one on the right, with the haircut like a Mario Bros mushroom and the Hello Kitty bag. Please note how my sister and I are some 30 years plus fashion forward, rocking the sandal and sock look.

Somewhere along the way matching lost its credentials. “Too Matchy Matchy” is a scathing fashion insult. Black bag no longer means black shoes. You can clash prints, red & pink, black & navy – the list is endless. The less you match the better. I can no more imagine wearing pink eyeshadow (which is supposed to “wake-up” your eyes in incidentally) because I’m wearing a pink top, than I can imagine wearing 4 different colour roll down stocking socks, 2 on each foot. And yet once upon a time I wore it all. Together.

I tend not to dress my kids in matching clothes either. This is not because I have something against it. It’s more that when you have 4 kids of the same gender, and are passing down clothes, you get sick of them. The last thing you need is for your son to finally grow out of the green Seed t-shirt with the the map print dog, and low and behold, there is the next size up waiting for him. I never want to see those dog t-shirts again. Sorry Seed. They did look quite cute at the time.

20140715-125636.jpg

But today I went against my grain and bought Master 6 and Baby N matching tracksuit pants. Both needed a pair, I really liked the print, I didn’t want to spend Baby N’s limited pram
patience hunting for another pair I liked…..and I knew Master N would get a kick out of it. I was right. He is thrilled. It will be 5 years before Baby N wears the size 6 pants – I think that’s
plenty of time for me to forget about them and like them again.

20140715-134851.jpg
Jack and Milly tracksuit pants from Myer

Unlike my mother, whose motives I assume were intentional (I can’t imagine any other scenario where we could all wind up in the same dress), what I DO tend to do is unintentionally dress myself and my boys matching. I dress myself first; there is a mood that contributes to my choice, or a look i am trying to achieve. When I lay my kids’ clothes out, subconsciously that aesthetic is lodged in my brain. It is embarrassingly not uncommon for people to say to me “oh cute you match!” And I will look at myself and my offspring both dressed in Breton stripes and grey denim and realise, indeed we do.

It happened again this morning, again without me even thinking about it. I put on my long grey Maison Scotch dress, and, to break it up a bit, added my white furry gilet.

20140715-131121.jpg

I had a few things to do at school (check lost property, uniform shop, visit beloved ex-pre-school teacher) and cogniscent of the apparent SUB ZERO morning temperatures in Dover Heights, I popped a Seed white fluffy bunny (it has ears) snow suit over Baby N’s pyjamas, to keep him cosy in the icy winds. Our school, I swear, is 5 degrees colder than the rest of Sydney. So there we were, both in white faux fur, without me even noticing. Until it was pointed out.

20140715-131058.jpg
I bought a school jacket too today. For my son. I don’t have as much to say about that, though it is in keeping with the theme. Uniform is about as matchy-matchy as you can get.

XOXO Shopping Girl