My Facebook Friends List looks suspiciously like a page torn out of a daycare center’s yearbook. Don’t ask me how my friends look like nowadays. I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a police line up. Or at a party in my own home. It happened overnight, it seems like. Profile pictures of college students performing keg stands have been slowly replaced by two year olds doing milk chugs. Friends are always encouraging us to have babies as soon as possible but my response? “We’re in no rush. It’s kind of nice to sit back and learn from everyone else’s mistakes”. At any given moment, my News Feed reads like a CliffsNotes version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Or for some, What To Expect When You’re (Not) Expecting. I find it all fascinating. Thanks to social media, I now know what to feed a child for the best abstract diaper art. Beets and leafy greens for color. Corn for texture. But more importantly, I’ve been fully educated on the cutthroat business of choosing a baby name. And I’m not even expecting.
The age of sixteen was when I first became aware of the stress involved in naming a child. I was working at a Mexican restaurant called Pappasito’s at the time. There, I met one of the most influential persons in my life. I can’t recall her name, but that’s not very important. What is important is that her son was named Markweist. Inexplicably, it is pronounced in the same manner as “Marcus”. In her defense, she would’ve named her child Marcus but made the mistake of sharing her chosen name with her best friend. The best friend had a baby before she did and ended up using the name herself. It was all very tragic. It was then, while wearing a sombrero and calling out for “Smith, party of two and a half!”, that I realized the importance of choosing a baby name early on and keeping it to oneself. I mean, you could share but who wants to add on 22 extra letters to a name because your best friend decided to lift yours? Unacceptable. If you don’t end up wanting kids, you can always use the name for a dog or a pet alpaca. Benjamin Theodore Thomas Ferguson III makes for a great alpaca name, I’ve heard.
So when our friends “C” and “O” decided to name their newborn “Baby S”, I was elated. One, the baby is healthy and beautiful. And two, Baby S was not on my radar of potential baby names. As a baby shower gift (as well as a Thank You gift for not using my baby name), I decided to go with two items. One to use and one to amuse. For the practical side, a Diaper Genie was chosen. And since some of my favorite memories centered around books and libraries, I decided to make Baby S her very own miniature bookcase. Out of an old jewelry box. Here’s what I used:
- Wooden jewelry box. Get the tall one with the doors. I got one from Goodwill for $9.99.
- Paint & paintbrush
- Scrapbook paper
- Double stick tape
- Pencil/felt tipped pen
- E-6000 glue
- Scrap pieces of wood. I had a damaged paint canvas that had a wooden frame. I used that.
Step 1: Using a screwdriver, remove the doors, hardware and drawers. Then strip off the velvet they use to cover it all. Mine was mauve pink. Hopefully, yours has festive velvet coloration as well. Here’s a picture of me peeling away. Just in case you’re unsure of how to peel. Sometimes I forget. Usually after midnight on the weekends.
Step 2: Next, take a low grit sandpaper and start sanding. Just enough to get the clear coat off so that your paint will stick.
Step 3: Brush off the sawdust and wipe it down a few times with a damp cloth. Then paint it with your choice of paint color. I chose a Behr color. I can’t remember what it was called but it had the word “cottage” in it. Cottage cream or cottage dream. Who knows. You’ll need a few coats of this stuff though.
Step 4: Leave that jewelry box alone for a day to dry. Then take some more low grit sandpaper and lightly sand the edges to give it a distressed look. Don’t press down too hard or else you’ll end up taking off too much and the whole thing will look more damaged than distressed.
Step 5: Cut out scrapbook paper to fit the back of the jewelry box. You might want to measure first. Then find your stash of pencils. No one seems to have pencils anymore but you’ll want to track some down for this.
Step 6: On a purple/grey paper, I used a ruler to measure out half inch lines. Then I went on Google Fonts and chose a few different styles. Using some of my favorite quotes from children’s books and poems, I drew them onto the paper freehand. I left a little area blank in anticipation of the shelf that will go there.
Step 7: Once that was done, I took a black felt tipped pen and traced the letters. Then I erased the pencil lines. It came out quite well. The quotes I used were written by Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, A. A. Milne and Dr. Seuss. Take the double sided tape and stick these onto the back of the jewelry box.
Step 8: Locate your scrap wood. Again, mine was just the wooden frame to a damaged canvas. I found that the width of each wooden piece was roughly half of the depth of the jewelry box. So, I could use two to make a shelf. Measure and cut the wood to size. You will want a shelf that is the depth and width of your box. Then, cut out two extra pieces about half a centimeter in square thickness. The length will be the depth of your box. This sounds difficult but look at the picture after this one and it makes more sense. It’s relatively easy.
Step 9: Paint the wooden pieces in the same color you’ve been using. Then affix the two small wood pieces onto the jewelry box using the E-6000 glue. You will want one on either side. Place it where you’d like to see the shelf sit. Then place the wooden “shelf” piece on top.
Step 569: Almost done. You might want to start making plans to do normal things like pee and shower again. I found a wooden letter “S”, so I decided to glue that on top. I would’ve painted it but thought the raw wood was cute. I’m sure the newborn will approve.
Step 1425: Buy some books. This is the fun part. Children’s books come in all shapes and sizes so I bought the ones that were able to fit into the baby’s bookcase. “O” and “C” are both in the software industry and plan on teaching their child the programming language, Ruby. I couldn’t find a small edition of that so I settled for Linux instead. Along with her Dr. Seuss books.
Step 22.5: Baby S is also fortunate enough to have parents who are both fluent in Spanish. So I threw in a little Spanish translator. It’ll come in handy when she’s nineteen, and in Cancun during spring break, trying to order a beer. Or find her way to a biblioteca. While drinking a beer.
And here is the gift for Baby S. Hopefully, she’ll remember this gift when I’m too old to drive and need a lift to the liquor store, library and bookstore. All in that order. Then repeat.