I had to buy a baby shower gift for a coworker this week.
I have to tell you...I'm waaay out of my league when it comes to picking presents for babies. Babies terrify me, and I know next to nothing about them -- being an only child and the youngest cousin in my family, I was the baby. Now, give me a verbal, housebroken child and I do very well -- I know my dinosaurs and Harry Potter, I pick up toads and frogs in my bare hands and can otherwise get along swell, especially with a certain type of geeky, thinky, friend-impaired kid -- but I don't know nothin' 'bout buying shower gifts for no babies. I kind of wanted to give the mom-to-be a pound of very good coffee for her triumphant postpartum return to caffienated beverages, since she's a javahead like me, but I figured that wouldn't play very well with the ladies at the shower.
So I went to one of our local gift stores. What to buy...what to buy. The receiving blankets and such seemed a little too fancy -- I imagined them with spit-up and other unpleasant substances on them. This store, for some reason, had a multitude of ceramic infant banks; I didn't quite understand what that was all about.
Then I saw a book. It was one of those washable books, in its own little carrying case. It looked promising. It was all about bugs. You'd open it up, and every cloth page had a stylized, smiling 3-D insect on it that did things: there was a fuzzy bumblebee on a ribbon tether, and a butterfly with soft flappy wings, and a beetle whose sparkly wings made an appealing crinkly noise when you lifted them up, and another bug that sang a happy tune when you pressed a button on its shell. It was really cool. I was enjoying myself turning the pages and doing all these things with the bugs, even though the clerk was giving me A Look.
My purchase was almost a done deal until I got to the very last page of the book. There I found a fuzzy 3-D spider with pipecleaner legs, sitting on its web. It was smiling. At the opposite end of the web, evidently in the web, was a butterfly, also smiling.
What sort of sick, crazy-ass baby book was this? Who wrote it, anyway -- Franz Kafka?
I know I tend to be overly sensitive, and I know that children are asked to grow up early these days, but do we have to teach them about survival of the fittest before they're even able to sit up by themselves? I mean, they're going to find out about "nature red in tooth and claw" soon enough -- when an older sibling whomps them over the head with a toy, or some young peer in play group takes a bite out of them.
I put the book back.
Below you will see what I finally did purchase. It's a glowworm -- if you pull its tail it plays "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and it lights up all over. I also got a little cardboard book featuring pictures of fluffy animals not eating one another. These selections passed muster with my mom ("Oh, that is soooo cute!"), who seemed astonished that I had purchased them without assistance, and the glowworm also made my dog's ear stand up in a benignly curious sproing, which I thought was a good sign.
If the child's older sibling does whomp him on the head with the glowworm, it won't hurt very much, and he'll hear some nice music.
The worm that turned the Chik