“In retrospect, perhaps the Hello Kitty zippo lighter in your child’s favor bag was not the best idea,” by Kara Lochridge

Aug 3rd, 2016 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Friends and Otherwise,

First, I’d like to offer my condolences to the Martin family. I hope little Gabby comes home from the burn unit soon. Please let us know if you’d like Bob to not visit her with his accordion.

As to the zippo lighter: some of you have expressed concern over the appropriateness of this item as a party favor in a child’s gift bag. First, let’s not jump to conclusions; we all have our own interpretations of “appropriate” and “child.” In some countries, it is not unusual to see six year olds smoking cigarettes and participating in cock fights. Nobody seems to be expressing concern over their ability to use a lighter safely.

These are some gorgeous lighters, friends. I thought the black enamel under the images was very classy and versatile; you could dress it up with some black pumps or dress it down with some converse sneakers. I asked Bob what he thought, just to be sure, and he said it seemed like a fine idea to him; he could see it being a very compelling item in a child’s gift bag. Now, if everyone will just calm down and hear me out, you’ll understand that we actually had many good reasons for including it in the gift bag:

  1. I wanted to get them something original, something NICE, something that might hold their interest for more than thirty goddamned seconds and not just get thrown away like a soiled kleenex in the gutter.
  1. Hello Kitty was riding a unicorn on one side and a rocket on the other– appealing for both boys and girls– am I not right?
  1. Last year, I received some pushback on the baby ferrets that we sent home with the children, even though we included with each animal a week’s worth of food, a cage, and high quality organic ferret bedding. So this year I thought I’d try something else that was equally unique, but requiring less maintenance, since nobody seems to want to put any effort into anything these days.
  1. Let me say again: a rocket, and a unicorn.
  1. Did I mention it is also a collector’s item?
  1. France. I spent a semester there when I was in college, and I lived next door to a daycare. So I’ve seen the way other cultures do things, and I feel like I have a pretty good take on this. I swear I used to see those French kids playing with lighters on the playground while the teachers watched. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw them running around with burning sticks sometimes– big ones, like olympic torches. Europeans are much more trusting in children’s abilities; you know, if you were to ask them, “Oh My God, why would you let my child play with fire? He could burn himself!” they would probably say, in broken English with a sophisticated accent, “Why he want play with fire in way that burn him?” And then they would spit on your feet dismissively, and direct your attention to the giant bonfire in the middle of the playground where the children engage in some sort of a festive round dance, singing songs about the solstice, most days of the year.

I heard from Jimmy’s mom that they only discovered the lighter after he set his sister’s blanket on fire. I’m not out to shame anybody here, but maybe we all need to take a deep look at our families tonight and acknowledge any behavioral problems that may be going unchecked. If YOU had a lighter, would YOU go and start your sister’s blanket on fire, first thing? That’s my point. Also, I’ve seen his sister’s blanket– she really does need a new one. And I heard they had some lice there recently, so maybe it’s for the best.

Marjorie was asking why Evan’s zippo lighter had a Jim Beam logo on it, rather than Hello Kitty. It turned out that, when we were assembling the favor bags– pink Turkish Delight, burned CDs of Polly’s favorite songs (for those of you who have expressed concern, I’ll address the inclusion of Drake’s “Worst Behavior” in the next letter), pink rubber gloves (kids love ‘em) filled with chocolate shavings (kids love ‘em), Hello Kitty post it notes– we were short one zippo, and I had to buy whatever happened to be available at the 7eleven at– get this– 11:07 the night before the party. It was about twice as expensive as the Hello Kitty zippos I bought at Walmart, and little Evan doesn’t know what Jim Beam is yet, anyway…. Or does he, Marjorie? Oh My God, is he an alcoholic?

No offense, but when I send my kids to your kids’ birthday parties, they usually come home with a bag full of stupid, cheap plastic shit they’ll look at once and either break or choke upon. Well, I’m not going to go to the Dollar Store to buy the first handful of junk I see and crap it into fifteen little brown paper bags and call it done. That’s not how I do things. No way, no day.

So excuse me for trying too hard. I guess if I’m always guilty of one thing, it is putting too much thought and effort into these things. I’m also sometimes accused of being too original, so I’ll try harder to be like everybody else next year. And if I have overestimated your child’s ability to self regulate around a fire source, I’ll concede to that as well. Next time I will treat them like the little babies you keep insisting they are, and put little diapers and a tube of butt cream in the favor bags instead.

Please keep in mind our potluck barbeque this Sunday, 4:00 PM. Bring an appetizer or dessert.


Polly’s mom


Defenestration-Kara LochridgeKara Lochridge is an American writer living in rural Denmark. She is the author of the blog Freedom From Sushi and the mother of two young sons, who speak a Danish far superior to her own. But it’s fine. IT’S FINE. Parenthood is an endless parade of humiliations but IT’S FINE. Her work has previously appeared on the twisted parenting humor website RAZED. Follow her on Twitter @KaraLochridge and read her at Medium.com/@KaraLochridge.

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