Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Recently as I mindlessly trawled the internet for new inspirations and blogging ideas (oh who are we kidding, I was procrastinating and looking at videos of cats. Here’s a good one), I came across this interesting article. A little piece on a child’s birthday party, where a gift was flat out refused by the birthday boy’s mother because her son “Wouldn’t like it”. The present was a book, and apparently the little darling, who’s only achievement for deserving a party that day was to make it out of his mother’s vagina at a particular moment in time*, would really rather have something else. “He just doesn’t read books” was her smarmy response as she vaguely pointed to the direction of the shops. I personally can’t be more outraged. News articles, opinion pieces, and ranting on social media go on and on about the youth of today and how they have no manners. Yet we never seem to stop and reflect on the rudeness of adults. Perhaps it’s time we need to make a correlation between the two? In what world do you take a gift, not even unwrap it, then give it back immediately deeming it to be unsatisfactory, and on behalf of someone else!? Not to mention that you haven’t even let your own child make a decision for himself on his tastes, pleasures, and likes or dislikes, but to shove a gift back in the face of someone who took (at least a little) time and effort in buying it is just disgusting. What does that teach our children?

Look admittedly, we’ve all received gifts we either don’t need or don’t like. But a little bit of tact wouldn’t go unnoticed. “Thanks! Look, truthfully I’m not really a fan of books, but I’m looking forward to giving this one a go, because I can tell that you thought I would like it, and that means a lot.” Hmm, does that sound too saccharine? In any case it’s a hundred times better than “Nope, try again” whilst hurling it back in the giver’s face.

I’ll admit however that I too have been guilty of giving presents back, but only because we already had the exact same thing. I gave them back with the intention that the giver could get a refund, or pass it onto another child they knew. But even so, I stopped doing that because I felt bad about it. Now if we get a doubled-up present we accept it with a smile, and then probably stash away to give to charity, or even a replacement for when the original is destroyed (as is likely to happen in a house with a toddler). It’s still easy for the moment, as Stormaggedon is still young enough that he doesn’t really understand what he owns, what he doesn’t own and what he’s receiving. But now that he’s getting older he’ll begin making connections, and very soon will start to realise when he receives something he already has. Or worse, receives something he doesn’t like or want. Then it will be time to step in and help him to learn to be gracious, and how to react in a more dignified and polite manner.

But this article didn’t annoy me just for the antagonist’s attitude of refusing a gift. A throw away comment towards the beginning of the article mentioned the writer’s child going to a different birthday party, and coming back with the token “Party Bag” which contained AN IPAD! That’s right, an iPad. Seriously, is this what we’re doing now. Trying to outdo each other to the point of bankruptcy? “My kid’s party was so much better than your kid’s party, I got all his little friends their own iPhone and Playstation console to take home”. When the hell did a bag of lollies, a balloon and a plastic whistle go out of fashion!? Now admittedly, perhaps this party was held by a well-off and affluent family, who could afford to do such a thing. But I find this kind of blasé attitude frankly irksome. It reeks of privilege and a lack of understanding how the real world works for 99% of people. Parenting is already hard enough nowadays, yet I found myself (and I know others do too) constantly bowing to the pressure of trying to keep up with the Joneses. People who cook everything from scratch, and never give their children anything processed, purchasing the latest technology, taking their kids to music classes, gymnastic classes, and art summer school, family holidays spent further and further afield in exotic locations, hiring home tutors before they start prep just so they have “an edge” over the other kids. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Ok, so here are some very basic steps to follow:

Rule 1. Simple birthday parties. Go to the Reject Shop and by some streamers and balloons. I guarantee they’ll cost you no more than $5. NO IPADS.

Rule 2. Except any gift that is given with a smile and a thank you. If it’s for your child DON’T REFUSE IT ON THEIR BEHALF BEFORE THEY’VE EVEN SEEN IT! You know, unless it’s something offensive like a harpoon gun, or porn. If this is the case you have my permission to throw it back in their face, kick them out of your house and never speak to them again.

Rule 3. Everyone take a chill pill and stop competing with each other. You know what, your child might legitimately be better than mine. They may already know how to tie their shoes, dress themselves, sing the alphabet, and whistle Handel’s Messiah off by heart. That’s great, but I refuse to compete anymore. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t look down on me in judgement just because I didn’t buy Stormy the latest and coolest running shoes to match everyone at Kindy.      

Rule 4. Be an example to your children. Show them how to treat others. Tell them to treat others the way they wish to be treated. Turn the next generation into beautiful, empathetic, giving, open hearted and charitable people. Because from what I keep getting told, the current generation is too self-centred to care.

Rule 5. Relax about whether your child is entertained or stimulated enough. You know what’s great? Playdoh, crayons, and a sandpit. Obviously not altogether. You don’t constantly have to look for activities to do. Stormy found my mental ramekins the other day and banged on them with a wooden spoon, declaring “what an interesting sound” they made. FOR AN HOUR! Toddlers are like cats, give them an empty box and they’re entertained for hours. Seriously, for the love of God, do yourself a favour and get off Pinterest!

Rule 6. NO IPADS AS PARTY GIFTS. I just can’t stress that enough.

*Note: OF COURSE I’m not against childrens’ birthday parties. They are a wonderful thing, and give us really beautiful moments. That is, when we’re not having to deal with tantrums, food poisoning, no one turning up, the cake being eaten by the dog before your kid could even blow out the candles, or that one annoying girl who decides she needs to fight the birthday boy for his party hat because SHE likes it more, and their grandmother makes everyone give in to her tantruming and gives her the party hat, thus inflating her self-congratulating narcissism (looks around furtively from side to side hoping no one works out who that was). I mean all I’m saying is, I did all the work, where’s my freaking party? Guess I’ll just enjoy that glass of wine sipped in the dark of an untidy kitchen hours after everyone is finally asleep. 

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