Christmas Shopping

Food for Thought @ Ole & Steen

Gift-shopping for Roxanne is not easy. She either loves something or hates it—nothing in between. It had to be a team effort with my kid, Annika. Two days before Christmas, we only had a vague idea of what we should do: go to the Flatiron District. We got up early, hopped on the subway, got off at the 23rd Street Station, and began our descent on Fifth Avenue.

She took me to the stores that sell things that feel, look, and smell nice—things I know nothing about. Walking around the store, I didn’t realize at first that they sell products for women. They were so foreign to me that I felt they were made for a different species.

The first item she picked was a bottle of perfume by Gucci. She explained that it would make her smell like a Millennial. I have no clue what each generation smells like, so I had to take her word for it and pay.

The second item she picked was a fancy white sweater. When I buy a piece of clothing, I’m thinking mostly about how long it will last. This sweater looked so delicate that it could fall apart during the course of an evening.

It took us about an hour to complete our mission. She said she wants to go to a cafe to warm up before heading over to her acupuncture appointment. I said I know a place she would love. Along the way, she kept asking where it is because she is too cold to walk far. I assured her that once she gets there, she would be thanking me for pushing her to go there.

The customer in front of us got a stick of “frosnapper,” so, I got the same thing. Annika wanted a piece of it, but I don’t like sharing something I didn’t intend to share.

You love this place, right?

Not really.

OK, then you don’t need to have a piece of this.

Yes, I love this place.

I then explained that she should listen to me more when I suggest something I think she would love.

We think of having a child as a major, life-long commitment, but that’s because our own childhood felt like forever. From the parents’ perspective, it just zooms by. At this point, Annika is more like a roommate than a daughter. Parenting lasted only about 15 years. From here, my identity as a parent should gradually fade into the background.