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Published August 26, 2013, 10:00 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Suggestions for Fire Up Buddies

As a parent, you’re introduced to things non-parents might never have to know.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

As a parent, you’re introduced to things non-parents might never have to know.

When my kids were babies it was the Diaper Genie – that magic contraption that takes dirty diapers and seemingly hermetically seals the stink away.

As a parent now of older kids, I’ve been introduced to the FUB.

A FUB is a “Fire Up Buddy.” If your child plans to participate in nearly anything that takes him or her off the couch, you will learn of this concept. It goes something like this: Each child in an activity is assigned the name of another student in that activity to be their FUB. Your child must anonymously give their FUB fire-up gifts before each event, game or performance. It can include little stuffed animals, candy, gum, homemade goodies or notes. All well and good, but I have to admit it’s all giving me a bit of a headache.

It all started when my daughter came home from her latest activity insisting that they were told to “make their FUB’s dream come true.” In this case, her FUB’s dream was for a pair of sunglasses I believe are only available online.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to break the heart of some nice kid longing for shade. But we only had a couple of days to get said gift and I wasn’t really thrilled about paying for overnight shipping to make this “dream come true.”

I took to Facebook. Thank heavens for my Facebook friends who insisted, “No, you do not need to make anyone’s dreams come true for FUB gifts.” As one Facebook friend said, “FUB gifts are meant to encourage, not pamper.”

I guess my daughter’s FUB will have to wait for Santa.

Most of my Facebook friends had pretty positive things to say about FUB gift giving. They had fun working on it with their student, coming up with creative, homemade gifts that didn’t require much effort, including baked goods, homemade CDs and nice notes.

But another Facebook friend of mine, a recent empty-nester, disagreed. She said she was glad her FUB years were over because too often gift-giving fell upon the parent. Just one more thing to add to busy, over-scheduled lives.

For these next few activity-filled years with my girls, I’ll go along and try to be a good FUB parent, but after having the FUB discussion both on Facebook and over coffee with a couple of friends, we’ve come up with a few suggestions for better FUB gift giving:

1. Instead of giving FUB gifts for every game or performance, can we consider giving them just on opening and closing night, or for the biggest tournament games? Seriously, having to give 15 FUB gifts isn’t very motivating for the gift giver. Some of us think it’s kind of a pain in the butt.

2. Your child must do most of the work. We as parents are busy people. Making gifts for our child’s FUB shouldn’t be our top priority.

3. Follow the price rules. Gum and beanie babies are OK. FAO Schwarz displays aren’t. Parents and children who do not follow price rules will be forced to sell butter braids, cookie dough and coupon books door to door for the rest of their lives.

4. If your child gets a FUB whom they happen to have a crush on, please tell them buying them the world with a fence around it for a FUB gift does not ensure they will love you back. (Just ask Hugh Hefner who eventually got dumped by all his “Girls Next Door” ladies.)

5. Try to teach your child that real motivation doesn’t come from someone else.

Stuffed animals, gum, homemade goodies and notes are nice, but in the end it’s you who has to motivate you.

When they grow up and head off to their jobs no one will be there to give them a little pep talk or gift before that big sales call or meeting. It’s up to them to learn how to do it themselves with no outside help from the Beanie Babies. In the end, they need to learn to give every performance or game their best just because it’s the right thing to do.

Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co. She can be reached at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com.