When I am King...
All parents will take up smoking.
When I was a kid, I'd bring home "gifts" from art class; projects that I had made in class with limited materials, constrained time, and no talent. But the thought was there; the thought that I had better get something for my parents for their birthday, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, or an apology for the baseball through the living room window.
These objets d'art were always ashtrays made from clay and baked in a kiln until hardened into its irreversibly misshapen form. There were white ashtrays, gray ashtrays, lumpy ashtrays, and lumpier ashtrays. These blobs of primordial earth littered the house, protecting our furniture from ash as they protected our interior aesthetic from taste and refinement.
There was no thought given to encouraging our parents in a deadly habit, or promoting second-hand smoke that we would all breathe in every day (anyone remember the smell of stale smoke in a hot car on a road trip?). Instead, there was just the guarantee that you could throw some clay on the table, mash it into a roughly concave shape, paint it, bake it, and you'd have another heartwarming present to give to the folks.
Nowadays, of course, that just isn't done. It would be wrong of schools and teachers to encourage kids to make colorful accessories of death. It would be like decorating a syringe for their drug habit, or giving candy to prolong their obesity: it's just not done (except for the candy bit. What else do you give someone that obviously loves it so much?).
So kids today are left completely at a loss for gift ideas. Birthdays and holidays come and go, and the kids are always scrambling for what to give to demonstrate their undying desire for more gifts on their own birthdays. Should they draw something? Paint something? Buy a tie that won't be worn?
All of this worrying is causing unnecessary stress for our children. How can we have our nine year olds fuss about such things when we need them to lose sleep over future SAT scores and music recitals?
When I am King, all parents will take up smoking. By so doing, we will create a demand for ashtrays in our houses and thus resolve the art-gift dilemma for the next generation.
Pregnant women will, of course, be an exception. But once that kid's out of the oven, get yourself a pack and start puffing; that child will be making ugly clay objects before you know it.