Saturday, April 13, 2024

The stay-at-home dad: Nothing like homemade birthday gifts

by Tyler Wilson
| May 5, 2020 12:38 PM

Nothing like homemade birthday gifts

If I’m being honest, I wish my kids had supplemental income to spend on cool gifts for my birthday. Alas, the only money they have is provided by the Tooth Fairy, and she’s a bit of cheapskate.

In normal circumstances, my wife might take our kids to the dollar store or Party City to shop for my birthday. The pandemic derailed those plans, though I do still have a few water-expanding hand towels and plastic mini Slinkys from past years.

No matter what, I get an eclectic collection of handmade gifts from my four kids. For my birthday this year, two of them put in some real effort, one forgot and the toddler gifted me several explosive tantrums throughout the day (so no real difference from any other day).

My 8-year-old daughter worked hard to create a thoughtful, relevant gift. Using a pair of socks and some cotton balls, she crafted a “stress ball” to squeeze for whenever I’m anxious.

“You’re stressed out all the time!” she told me.

She knows me well. I’ve even heard her explain to a friend on the phone that Dad has “generalized anxiety disorder.” That’s accurate, but she should learn how to respect medical privacy laws.

My 6-year-old son didn’t make me anything.

“I didn’t have time!” he said with a straight face, knowing full well I witnessed how he spent the entire day. He had about an hour of school work and 10 hours of poking at his sisters with a wrapping paper tube. Priorities, I guess.

My newly-minted 5-year-old spent most of the day making crafts for me. She even created a paper handbag to hold all of the presents. She borrowed 12 envelopes from her older sister’s “envelope collection” (maybe the only collection of its type in the entire world) and filled it with various paper goodies. There were several trees, a few faces, and, curiously, a few pictures with small, dried blood drops.

Then I noticed the bandage on her thumb. According to Mom, she wanted to use the big scissors and had an incident.

Take note, other kids: The 5-year-old bled to make my birthday presents. That’s the kind of effort I like to see.

My toddler gave me some paper with scribbles on them. Really, I consider them “apology scribbles,” because of all the aforementioned tantrums.

The worst one occurred when I took him for a drive around town so Mom and the other kids could wrap presents and decorate the house for our party. It was a lovely drive until he started screaming hysterically about his penis pressing painfully against the buckle of his car seat. We had to stop in the parking lot at the park so he could unbuckle and “air out” the situation.

We went home and the toddler asked for pie 76 times throughout dinner. Then we served pie, and he didn’t eat a single bite. That means I ate extra pie, so I guess he gave me a nice gift after all.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Truthfully, the stress ball works pretty well and the paper handbag is structurally sound and reusable. And extra Dutch apple pie is better than anything you can find at the dollar store.

My 6-year-old son totally blew it though. His birthday is in July, and payback is a (expletive deleted).

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home parent to four kids, ages 2-8. He is tired, especially in the age of Pandemic 2020. He can be reached at