Sunday, January 04, 2009

Funny At First; Why Am I Disturbed?

I love kids. I love talking with them. I love seeing them happy. But...

Am I the only one who finds this disturbing on some weird, inexplicable level? I remember Christmas morning as rather stressful as an only child, sitting and opening presents while my mom and dad sat on the couch and watched my every reaction. I would have to go to the bathroom, after, and massage my face because it hurt from smiling so hard for an hour straight. So it could be just me.

Or do you find this a little disturbing, too? Is it my knowledge of their big crash a few hours from this moment? Or what? The extreme materialism?

I laughed for the first twenty seconds, and then something about it just disturbed me, and I have no idea why.

PS: Am currently catching up on comments and blogs. Had one heck of a get-back-to-the-school-year disaster. But then it also led (thanks to Erica and her Ninja talk) to a sort of fun thing that seems to have the kids perked up, if not the parents, LOL.

22 bonus scribbles:

Edie 1/04/2009 04:25:00 PM  

The video gave me the ick feeling too, though I'm wondering if the kids were acting for the camera.

I felt sad for you as a child. An hour is a long time to act appreciative. My son is an only child, but his gift opening probably lasted five minutes. At the most, ten.

meljean brook 1/04/2009 04:30:00 PM  

I couldn't watch past the first kid. That was just too much for me.

What disturbed me? Is that all the love was directed toward the game. There was no thank you, no running over to mom/dad. Maybe the display was supposed to show whoever gave the gift how much she appreciated it ... but I didn't get that feeling.

JaneyV 1/04/2009 05:01:00 PM  

I expect that it gets more disturbing as it goes along because it moves form being one child's excitement at being given his/her most wished for gift into an orgy of commercialism. I think the thing to remember is that each occurrence is happening in isolation. Of course this is what the manufacturer wants to see - numbers, more, greed but it's not the story for each of these kids. I think Santa appeared to be the generous benefactor for most of them so I guess that's just why we were treated to victory dances instead of 'thank-yous'.

I adore that frenzy of excitement on Christmas morning. It's not just 'I want I want' - for the children I think they feel part of something magic. Perhaps you intuited it wasn't and that's why it was a chore for you. The child should never have to fake the magic for the parents' sakes.

Erica Orloff 1/04/2009 05:12:00 PM  

Well . . . I have four kids.

Oldest was excited as a kid . . . but now is very demure and quiet on Christmas watching everyone else.

Oldest Son is hyper and ecstatic. He's 13 and wakes me up at 4:00 a.m. "Can we get up now? How 'bout now? Now? What about now?" But he's generally so happy we're all together--though he does love presents too.

Baby Girl is a character--we get shrieking, commentary, etc. for each present.

Demon Baby, as I think I may have told you on my blog, stopped opening after about four presents and decided he had enough.

All kids are different. I just love that we're all together . . . .


Melanie Avila 1/04/2009 05:57:00 PM  

I watched a couple minutes of it. I found the girls more annoying than the boys, I don't know why, and the first one was definitely the worst. There was one boy who seemed genuine and got up to throw away his paper - I felt like he'd really appreciate it. In all, yes, disturbing.

I was an only child when I was little but we always had Christmas at my grandparents so it wasn't just me and my mom. Then with my step-siblings it was more fun.

Virginia Lady 1/04/2009 07:19:00 PM  

Well, at least they seemed to think it was a really cool gift, and considering what Wii's cost, that's something. I was amused by the show but could only handle watching about a half dozen kids. The lack of thanks did seem to be due to the Santa-factor, which parents only perpetuate so they can't really complain when no one thanks them.

I suspect in another twenty years, the commercialism of Christmas will decline. At some point we have to say enough is enough and stop buying so many things.

McKoala 1/04/2009 09:30:00 PM  

Could not manage to watch more than a few seconds. I hate that kind of hyper excitement. I think it's pretty artificial and largely induced by adults who want to see appreciation. Yes, the kids are happy, but they don't know how to show it in a way that the adult will think sufficient so they go for this kind of insane behaviour that borders on hysteria. My nephew does it, like he thinks it's not enough just to say thank you. It's tiring... I prefer a simple smile and a thank you, followed by a child disappearing to play with/put on/read whatever the gift is.

Jill Wheeler 1/04/2009 10:07:00 PM  

Well, that's what Christmas is all about, isn't it? Nintendo Wiis.

Rick 1/04/2009 11:26:00 PM  

You've gone existential on us, haven't you Spy? Christmas has to be fun for kids-it's the law. Well, maybe not. I spent Christams with the head of an authentic ninja clan a few years back, and talk about a fun Christmas! My son and I took him a few weeks later to watch Batman Begins, and he cried through parts of it. Very strange. He's 80 years old now. Don't tell Erica, but some ninjas can actually be fun.

Sarah Laurenson 1/05/2009 12:17:00 AM  

My brother was always first up on Xmas morning. He would rearrange the presents several times before the rest of us dragged our sorry butts out of bed. The presents were opened slowly. When we kids were opening ours, our parents watched and vice versa. I know I was as excited about their reaction to what I got for them as I was about what I got.

I remember the most exciting thing my brother ever got was his snare drum and he stood up and played it a little immediately. But then it was pushed to the side as the ritual continued. My most exciting gifts were books. And I preferred to read in the privacy of my room.

I don't think either of us were that expressive, but I could be wrong. Maybe we did jump up and down and scream and it was normal to me, so not memorable.

I pushed myself to watch more than the first kid (without sound). I think I would've stopped after the first few seconds with sound.

Dube 1/05/2009 01:38:00 AM  

I only made it halfway through the video, but I think those kids were just the really demonstrative types (you know, the ones who grow up to be actors...) :-P Like Edie said, some were probably acting for the camera too.

What disturbed me was the adult talking in the background to the second kid. "You know, people kill themselves when they can't get this. You know that right?"

WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT ABOUT? Ya, that really creeped me out. :-/

Btw, Rick's comment sounds like one of the coolest Christmases ever. Spending it with a leader of a ninja clan? I am so jealous!

StarvingWriteNow 1/05/2009 07:03:00 AM  

wow, your folks just sat there and watched you open your gifts? just stared at you? creepy!

I didn't watch the video, my imagination (and reading the comments) was enough for me. I don't recall ever jumping up and down and screaming as a child; I don't think my son was ever that wild either (though he does shake all the boxes before he starts and I think that's kind of cute). I was gratified this year that he was actually reading the books I got him. Huzzah! And can I add how thrilled I was with my gift from The Man--an amish-made maple cutting board, 31 inches by 20. It's huge, it's heavy and totally AWESOME!

Kristin B 1/05/2009 09:17:00 AM  

Even in a 4-child household, I always felt self-conscious about the present-opening thing, too. There's like this standard of joy and appreciation you have to live up to, and knowing that, I think, made it hard to genuinely express my feelings. I still find it a little awkward today.

Can't watch the video at work, but I have a feeling it would bother me. The best presents, to me, have always been the ones that speak to my personality and show that the giver was paying attention. Video game systems rarely say that.

Robin Bielman 1/05/2009 11:44:00 AM  

My boys rip through their presents pretty quickly, without any theatrics, just big smiles on their faces. Those kids in that video were too much. I didn't get much past the first girl either. It really was disturbing.

Anonymous,  1/05/2009 12:11:00 PM  

Count me in as a disturbedling. I don't know if our family is the odd one, but we buy 'big gift items' like that at random times during the year (together as a family) as/when/if we can afford to do so, and save Christmas time for heartfelt stuff (like the custom made guitar picks we got for my son). No hysterics, no on-display gratitude (poor Spy!!!), no mugging for the camera; just a nice time with the kids.

Barbara Martin 1/05/2009 12:58:00 PM  

I managed to watch the video to slightly over three minutes where I heard the first "thank you". The materialism these days astounds me. My Christmases tend to be quiet affairs with immediate family and close friends.

In childhood, on average I probably only had three gifts per Christmas, as did my older brothers; and one gift to share amongst the four of us, often a game. One amazing Christmas, my brothers received collectively a complete electric train set. I recall they just sat on the carpet and stared at the box before saying anything...speechless. At the time this was an extravagant gift and my brothers knew it. But they were grateful and said so without the yelling and screaming displayed on the video.

Sad state our world has come to.

Kath Calarco 1/05/2009 03:07:00 PM  

Spy, consider the bright side - all those empty Wii boxes on the curb in the Christmas trash are just an invitation that says, "Hey, come bust into my crib!" because the Wii is tops on the lists of stolen property. Sad part is, the kids will be so heart broken over their Wii being ripped off that mom & dad will rush out to buy the replacement.

Whatever happened to just given the kid a coloring book and crayons for Christmas? I'll bet Walton's Mountain never saw a Wii...

P.S. my kid is an only child, too, but always wanted us to take turns opening. She's nothing if not diplomatic, even back then.

Charles Gramlich 1/05/2009 03:11:00 PM  

Over commercialism and consumerism often disturbs me.

Robin 1/05/2009 03:21:00 PM  

Totally disturbing. It was tough to watch for long. I love Christmas. We go horn in on our friends' Christmases, and eat good meals, and see a movie. There's a game of Pictionary in there somewhere. If I had to watch little kids going through bizarre orgies of glee while they ripped open boxes of electronic games, I'd stay home and read instead.

Stewart Sternberg 1/05/2009 06:25:00 PM  

Edie...I share "ick". I think what hurts is how conditioned these kids are to be consumers. And I also agree with McKoala, that behavior is being encouraged and the kids are performing for the camera.

I remember years ago going to the store and looking for a toy truck for a child. All the trucks were covered with brand names..a coke truck, a McDonalds truck, etc. I ended up finding a plain old truck...but then the more I started looking the more I saw the infusion of advertising in children's lives.

I'm an old man. WHen I was a teen, we would never NEVER have worn a tshirt with a corporate logo. We would have considered it a sell-out, a tribute to fast capitalism. Today? Good luck getting a kid to wear a "t" which isn't a kissed by a corporation.

I think the selling of our country had been an issue, but the selling of our children has been a sad commentary.

I know...nobody forces anyone to buy anything. But that argument is weak when one looks at the power of negative and positive sanctions that push children first one way and then the next. And think about it, when we do find a kid who doesn't eat up the corporate brand, who doesn't glow at the carrot of consumerism, don't we wonder what is wrong with that child?

colbymarshall 1/05/2009 11:26:00 PM  

Well, children in general disturb me, so I'm not sure if I'm the most ojective person to ask this question...

freddie 1/06/2009 07:22:00 AM  

Christmas Eve was the only night in the year I couldn't get to sleep. I'd lay awake all night, in the dark, counting the seconds until I could safely wake up my folks. 4 a.m. Every year.

But our gift-opening was always a polite affair. We took turns.