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John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as Babble, TLC, YahooShine, and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. While he’s name dropping, it’s only fair to point out that Ashton Kutcher tweeted one of John’s YouTube videos, but it may have only been because Ashton felt sorry for him. After all, John went from carefree bachelor to father of four in just 13 months thanks to marrying a single mom, then quickly conceived triplets. Since then, he and his wife have added one more to the mix, a little boy they named Grand Finale. They all live chaotically in Knoxville, TN with Briggs the dog.

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Gifts That Look Good on Paper

By John Cave Osborne |

With five kids, Caroline and I are no rookies when it comes to gifts. In fact, we’ve got it down to a science, both playing different but vital roles in the gift-giving process. Caroline is the catalyst for all things gift related, often recognizing gifting opportunities which I never even knew existed.

For example, I never knew that existing children are to receive a gift from a newborn baby. Well, until Caroline informed me of such when the triplets were born, that is. But by the time Grand Finale came around, I had forgotten all about this strange custom. (Southern thing? Or do all y’all do it, too?)

But Caroline hadn’t forgotten, which explained the four random gifts I found in the laundry room the week before our youngest was born. And that’s when I played my vital role.

You see, most any gift we give our children looks good on paper. But I have the ability to sniff out the ones which actually suck — suck being defined as creates a cruel and unusual annoyance level for parents. And I detected one such gift in the bunch that Grand Finale was to give our children — a Dora microphone complete with a Boots speaker.

“Honey,” I said to Caroline, “the Dora microphone has to go.”

“Why?”

“Because the kids will fight over it, and even if they don’t, the sound of a squeaky little voice emanating from the speaker will eventually drive us nuts.”

“How do you know they’ll fight over it?”

“Because everyone loves the sound of their own voice.”

“Oh,” she said knowingly, “so that’s why you blog.”

“I’m being serious.”

“So am I,” my wife said. “Let’s just see how it plays out.”

The next week, the triplets opened their respective gifts, and, as I had predicted, the three jostled for position around the mic like some bad doo-wop group moments before curtain. And the ensuing squeals were enough to put both Caroline and me over the top. The toy didn’t last a week.

So the day before the triplets’ birthday, I took great pride in fulfilling my vital role once again, inspecting each and every gift Caroline had gotten our tiny trio. To my delight, not a single one of them “sucked,” as I couldn’t imagine even one scenario in which any of the gifts would bother us in the least.

Our four-year-olds got bikes (what’s not to like about bikes?), a board game (keeps them occupied? keeps me happy…) and costumes to wear (costumes aren’t noisy…). The big day went swimmingly. The kids loved their new rides, pedaling around the driveway before coming in for some cake. Before too long, the party started to thin out. It was at that point that the boys asked if they could put on their costumes.

And that’s when the costumes, which looked perfectly good on paper, suddenly revealed their achilles heel.

Essentially, they’re an Indian Chief and a Biker Dude away from busting out a reasonably effective version of YMCA.

No. It’s not annoying, per se. At least not like the Dora microphone. But it did catch this dad off guard. Still, with five kids, I’m caught off guard quite a bit. Which is why I’m so thankful that we have such a great network of family and friends who are helping us raise these guys.

Because it takes a, um, Village, People.

PS — I am SO sorry for that last sentence. Truly.

PPS — I realize that the Village People didn’t have a fireman in the group, but work with me people. I’m doing my best.

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About John Cave Osborne

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John Cave Osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as Babble, TLC, YahooShine, and the Huffington Post. John went from carefree bachelor to father of four in just 13 months after marrying a single mom, then quickly conceived triplets. Since then, they have added one more to the mix, a little boy they named Grand Finale. Read bio and latest posts → Read John's latest posts →

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5 thoughts on “Gifts That Look Good on Paper

  1. Patrick (yeah, that one) says:

    So switch out the fireman for a construction worker, add a biker, a Native American, and a member of the military, and you should be good. Technically, you’ve got enough kids to form the band, so . . . .

    BTW, I’ll deny ever making this comment. Ever. Though I am now considering buying the band’s cds for the trips for Christmas… ;-p

  2. Dawn @ The Momma Knows says:

    Haha! Let’s see how long it takes before one of the kids handcuffs himself to another one… or to a random object. THEN we’ll see how fast the annoyance factor kids in! Especially when the other one decides to see if that fire ax will make said handcuffed one stop howling. :D I know. I try.

  3. Debbie says:

    Three things -
    1) Love that your and your wife have complementary roles in the family task of gift selection. That is such the symbol of a good partnership!.
    2) My husband has a hilarious story about how the village people were his favorite group when he was a little kid until an older boy explained…
    3) I am firmly against the giving of gifts to other children on the occasion of another’s birthday, etc. It sends a bad message – kids should be taught, even at a young age that people get attention at different times, and it is not always them!

  4. Miss A says:

    Happy birthday awesome trio of kids! Lots of hugs, and candy and laughter!
    Miss A

    1. @Miss A — you’re the best. thank yo!
      @Debbie — i’m with you on all three accounts, though i understand the premise behind giving a gift to existing child from a baby on the day of that baby’s birth. it’s a way, obviously, of saying to the older child — you’re special, too. and your infant sibling knows it. that said, that’s the only time i’d ever think it’s “okay” to give a child a gift on another child’s birthday.
      @Dawn @ TMK — hmmm. that’s a pretty scary picture you just painted. (loved it!)
      @ Patrick — you’re the man, brother. and i just signed you up to watch all five of them so C and i can go away on a quiet weekend. feel free to help yourself to anything in the fridge…

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