No one ever claimed that parenthood is glamorous, but Christmas shopping for your children can be its own kind of torture.

Author Clint Edwards, who blogs at No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog, recently shared his own Christmas shopping experience on Facebook. It started the way that so many parent “date nights” do — with a cheap dinner:

After spending $13 on low brow tacos my wife and I went Christmas shopping for our kids. This was our date for the month. This is parenthood. Sexy … I know.

The problem, of course, was that Edwards and his wife were working from lists. If your children haven’t yet mastered the art of writing or if they are familiar with the principle of restraint, you may not know how bad Christmas lists can get.

After spending $13 on low brow tacos my wife and I went Christmas shopping for our kids. This was our date for the…

Posted by No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog on Sunday, November 18, 2018

In short, this is a child’s chance to make you feel overwhelmed, out of touch, dismayed at their taste, and wondering whether you’ve made some kind of parenting error along the way. For Edwards, it started with his son’s sense of fashion:

My son asked for a shirt with a cat in space shooting lightning from its paws while eating a pizza and I actually scratched a hole in my head trying to understand.

Thanks to the wonder of technology, parents now have the pleasure of getting Christmas wish lists that would cost more than their first car:

Our son’s wish list added up to just over $5k and I’ve never wanted to make someone live on the streets until now.

He added, “I didn’t think my 11-year-old could possibly get lazier and then boom! He asked for a hover board.”

There’s always a moment when you look around the toy aisle and desperately hope it doesn’t say anything about our society. Edwards notes that, “A surprising amount of toys this year have to do with poop and farts. What a time to be alive.”

And that’s on top of the fact that thanks to YouTube, “everything [comes] in a magic egg.”

Then there are the items that you know, from the bottom of your parenting heart, are a recipe for disaster. Like play-doh:

Play-doh was on everyone’s list and we won’t be getting any of it because I’d rather slam my head in a car door.

And it’s sweet to see that the desire for big-ticket gifts has prompted a temporary truce between siblings. But as a parent, you know it will only last as long as it takes to get the wrapping paper off:

Our daughter’s asked for a Barbie dream house to share so they can fight over a pretend house inside our real house.

One child always surprises you with interests you didn’t know about and aren’t sure you like. For Edwards, it was his middle child, who, “asked for a bath bomb maker, a child sized foot massager, and a children’s press on nail kit.”

He quipped: “Turns out I’m raising Paris Hilton.”

And then there’s the sticker shock. Like $60 for, “a stuffed dog that licks and twerks along with a walking unicorn who declares her love. Christmas morning’s going to be like Narnia meets Miley Cyrus.”

As Edwards writes, they already have real pets, and the price tag for the robot dog prompted a, “Seriously? Not today, LOL Surprise!”

In the end, the parents had to whittle the lists down using a classic formulation:

We finally wilted down their lists to something they need, want, and can read. Bring on the tears.

It’s a good rule — though I know some people like to add “something to wear” to it, and I’m a softie who tends to add “something I saw at the last minute and had to buy.”

If nothing else, it helps parents keep their sanity — and their wallets — intact through the holiday.

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