Friday, December 24, 2010

Parenting at Christmas

I really appreciate everyone's comments on this, but I'm sick of looking at this post, so



Anonymous said...

I wouldn't tell them. I would graciously accept the thing, quietly return/exchange/sell it on ebay and when they ask about it, say "Oh, that...yeah, it must have broken" because that shit is always breaking. But seriously, it's not worth the risk of insulting someone who has graciously given your child a gift.

Ink said...

I understand -- so far the only gift that has blown my gasket was the LOUDEST fire truck of all time that never stopped wailing, which we could hear going even when we shoved it into the garage! The battery didn't come out, so we just had to wait until it burned out. Gah!

Good luck and happy holidays.

Earnest English said...

Anastasia, thanks for the idea. I can't believe I didn't even think of just not saying anything about it. I can't return or exchange it actually without the giver finding out. But I can give it away.

I also just found out that AL doesn't feel so strongly about it. Gah.

albe said...

I am right there with you on this. I feel the same way about these types of gifts and despite the fact that we have actively and directly told my in-laws about it repeatedly, they just ignore us and give the kids these types of things. It gets trickier as the kids get older. If the in-laws aren't here, then we can just intercept ahead of time. But if they're here and insist on watching the kids open things, well, they're a little too old now for things to magically "disappear" later on without them noticing.

Toys that reinforce gender stereotypes are another annoyance, especially because my daughter doesn't happen to have much interest in the girly doll stuff at this age. She likes things she can make and build and gets confused when her brother gets those fun things and she doesn't. My MiL wants to turn my daughter into a "princess", which we are not cool with, and it becomes very tricky to try to negotiate that stuff with family.

I agree that I'd just give the toys away if you can and not tell your sister. That's what we tend to do. And sometime in a different conversation at a different time of year you could share your feelings about what kinds of things you like to have him play with and why, in a way that has nothing to do with her and what she chose as toys. (This only works if family members care what you think, of course...)

undine said...

I'm just seconding Anastasia's great suggestion. That conversation about the values you want the toys to reflect could happen at another time, maybe, but if you try to have it with the gift-giver at this time of the year, after she's spent time to get the toys, it would be very surprising if some hurt feelings didn't ensue.

Also--learning to put things inside other things (like a basketball hoop) is a great development skill.

Bardiac said...

As the person who's usually on the other side, I try to figure out what will be appropriate and fun by asking the parents. When my niece and nephew were younger, I tended to get craft stuff that I could do with the kids (especially while they visited me). That way it gave us something fun to play with and to have (soap, tie-dye, garden stones). But it gets harder all the time.

But it's hard, too, because what I might consider fun the parents might consider too loud or obnoxious. Mostly, we're pretty much able to communicate about stuff, which is good.

Anonymous said...

In the long run, your family is more important than whether or not your child plays with a bit of faux technology. The child will learn so much more from how you treat others. Especially others in your family. Your child will remember nothing of this toy. Your sister will remember everything.

Anonymous said...

I came back to follow up and make sure I didn't sound like a punk. My comment was mostly coming out of last Christmas, when we got embroiled in a whole family *thing* over the Barbie "how do dress!" book my BIL bought for Kizzy which my husband and I were both um, no thank you. It was awkward. Point being, I completely understand and I also know that if you can be discreet, it's better.

Earnest English said...

Anastasia, you totally were not a punk. I really appreciate your help actually.

After a lot of thinking, I decided to just relax about the presents altogether. Number 1, I'm grateful to my sister. And that's what she needs to hear. Also, I know she'd have returned them and gotten him something else if I'd asked her to. But I decided all around that the gifts weren't that big of an issue. If it takes a village to raise a child, then the parents should not bar the villagers from helping unless it's way out of line. As in dangerous or unethical. Or teaching bad behaviors. I may revise that statement later, but so far that's what I'm sticking with. (If it were a Gameboy, I think I'd draw the line.)

Thanks, all of you, for your help. This is part of me trying to relax about parenting too.