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Gifts My 8-Year-Old Niece Has Hated
All three of my nieces have somehow inherited the dreaded Stubborn Gene which I believe must have been passed down through their mother. Some children are harder to shop for then others, but generally if you buy them a toy they'll at least feign interest in it for awhile before returning to their electronic devices. This is, however, not exactly the case with my 8-year-old niece who has a very specific idea of what she wants and is displeased if she does not get it. Now, I don't actually know what this 'specific idea' is as it's apparently a secret known only to her. But throughout the years and the birthdays and the Christmases I have bought many gifts that failed to impress her as I kept hoping that one day I would hit upon the perfect gift for her. It hasn't happened yet but the failures have been pretty funny anyhow. Read on to see a list of gifts my niece didn't appreciate!
Normal Books With Scary Covers
Growing up I was a voracious reader much like my niece is now. In fact, I thought we might be able to bond over my childhood love of the Animorphs series of books. It's a good series and I know my niece would have definitely loved them--they're a little bit science-fiction and a lot fantasy. Unfortunately, however, she was unable to get past the new lenticular cover the publisher has decided to put on the book covers. It should come as no surprise that these books are about children morphing into animals--hence 'animorphs'. However, being able to see the actual morphing when you rocked the book back and forth was just too scary for her.
There are 54 books in this series, which is typical of Scholastic publishing--to just keep churning them out until people get sick of them. But before my niece would have gotten sick of them I think she would have enjoyed them. Where is the book now? If I had to guess it's hidden way down underneath some other very heavy objects so that the awful, nightmarish cover will never have a chance of being seen again.
Video Games She Specifically Asked For
My niece has inherited a love of Castlevania video games from her father. I'm not entirely sure what Castlevania is other than that it involves a man with a whip who jumps around the screen killing bats until a vampire shows up. However, when my niece asked me to buy the newest game for her Nintendo DS I figured this would surely be a gift she'd love.The game is called 'Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrows', which to me sounds like a perfect game for an 8-year-old. I assume the game is about crying bats or something. So I purchased it for her and she kicked it around for a month before finally trying it once or twice.
She played it a couple times and then gave up. What she did was go with her father to a game exchange store and turn it in for a video game called Dogz which she now plays for hours at a time. Dogz is a game where you control a fake dog, feeding it, taking it for walks, and doing whatever else one does with dogs. I'm not a fan of Castlevania but surely it must have been better than a game of virtual pick-up-the-poop. Apparently not.
A Not-So-Easy-Bake Oven
I can't really remember the last time I wasn't poor on Christmas so it's always been a time when I try to buy gifts for as little money as possible. I love my nieces, but my bank account and my wallet feel differently, apparently. I found a used Easy-Bake Oven at the local Goodwill and though it did not come with any cookie/food mixes I decided that wouldn't be too much of a problem. I lovingly filled bags with ingredients, included a note card with baking instructions, and slapped on fancy names such as 'Christmas Sugar Cookies' and 'Vanilla Crumble Cake'. I was pretty pleased with myself because in spite of being poor I managed to pour my heart into a good gift I knew all of my nieces would adore.
Christmas Day came and the Oven was opened with much screaming and excitement and I felt like a good uncle. Then the weeks went by and the Oven was relegated to one random corner of the room after another with its ingredient bags moving with it, spilling a little here and there. It was always precariously perched somewhere and prone to falling on the floor, slowly chipping away the pink plastic exterior. I think it got thrown in the garage sometime in May and hasn't been seen since.
A Cherished Childhood Book
Growing up I had a favorite book I used to always love to read called The Little Engine That Could. It's the story of a blue train that tries to get up a hill but doesn't think he can do it. And then at the end he does. The idea was that since all three of my nieces are in love with Thomas the Tank Engine, another blue train, that my niece would surely like a feel-good book that her father could read to her at night.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the book was never read once. Or if it was, that was it. Just once. Which is sad because I have so many other good children's books I'd love to get her but at this point I just can't be bothered to watch her toss aside a beloved childhood memory. However, it's always a safe bet to buy her something Garfield-related so there's that.
But That's Okay!
But even though she generally seems to hate everything I give her it's alright, because I love her anyhow and have learned to save money by just not buying her anything other than candy. This has the dual benefit of being cheaper and making her a lot happier too. Maybe I'll have to buy her one of those toys with candy attached/incorporated with it, so that I can finally say I bought her a toy she loves. Just look at that, it's a cell phone that doubles as a chalk-flavored candy dispenser! And when you run out of candy you can just refill it with raisins or nuts. I'm gonna be the coolest uncle ever this Christmas.