May 8, 2015

Lesson Learned: Nothing Is Sacred

I've been trying to write this for weeks but it always ends up too long and all over the place.

Did you hear about the parents who sent out a wish list for their kid's birthday that went viral?

My first reaction was, "Oh, come on, this letter is a bit much." But then I decided to play my favorite game of devil's advocate and realized that I not only feel for these people, but I support them, for the most part.

Can we all just calm the eff down for a second and stop claiming they are the "worst parents ever", "assholes" and the like?

What if, just what if, these people are like me and my family? Maybe they don't have a ton or money or space, maybe they're into alternative forms of play and entertainment for their child, maybe they know there are things their children really want or need that they can't get themselves. What if they had the best of intentions helping guests save their own time and money by giving out a wishlist and some jerk chose to be offended and put on the internet? And to all you who are saying "the expectation of gifts is absurd" or "it's the thought that counts" why don't you come down off your high horse for a dose of reality?

First of all, it's a freaking birthday party. Who shows up without a gift? I'll tell you who, a jerk almost as big as the person who put this thing online. Secondly, how thoughtful can you get for a one or two year old? And how many people actually put thought into gifts for them, aside from maybe grandparents and bffs. I'm right and you know it. You get invited to a kid's party and even if you have kids yourself you're like, Ugggh what the hell do I get this kid?! Then you spend time and money at target or on amazon picking it out, wrapping it up and hoping it doesn't just sit in a closet somewhere. Which, if you just picked it up off a shelf of plastic items that happened to be geared towards boys or girls without a thought as to developmental or age appropriateness or their parenting style, it just might. "Thoughtful" gifts are great but what does that even mean? Something you labored over for hours? Something you had personalized? Something you thought of and just knew the person wanted? Tell me, just how do you do that with a 2 year old (unless you're told?)

I'd say the most thoughtful gift is the one that you know for sure the person will use and love. And most of us aren't psychic enough to just know these things about other people or their children.

The truth is most people know this and they do want to know what the best gift would be. I remember as a kid my mom having a list by the phone of ideas for when people called and asked what to get us for birthdays and Christmas. Rather than open a pile of the latest toys that would be forgotten in a week we received things like personalized items, a telescope, roller blades, an easel, a real dollhouse, books and, of course, clothes, 'cuz those are expensive no matter how old your kids are. We appreciated and used the things we received and everyone was happier for it.

So they created a list of gift ideas for their child's birthday and passed it out. We've all thought about it, some of us create actual wish lists on amazon, others do just the same thing they did - the only difference is most people manage to not come off so pretentious. I will give the haters that much - these people definitely should have chosen their words more carefully. Some of the more cringe worthy sentences include: "(We) would like to restrict gifts to 2 items per household," "We would suggest no more books," and my favorite, "When we return an item without the receipt we only get about 50% of the value."

Ok, maybe they are assholes. But it's in their delivery, not their intent.

I am desperate to create a wishlist for my girls but I am now terrified of being judged the way these people have.  There are so many things we need in the next few years that we will struggle to pay for. Some months, depending on CJ's commission and bills we are barely making ends meet. Seriously. We are a family of four living on about $30,000/year.  We are making it but it's hard. Really hard sometimes. Our kids are still small and luckily they have never gone without but someday they might. Twice a year (birthday and christmas) our relatives and friends are going to take their own hard-earned cash and purchase a gift for our children (not because I think they should but because that is what you do). Is it too much to ask that they help us provide things that our budget does not allow for like clothes, books and other special items that they truly need or will cherish? Would we be vilified like this family if, god forbid, one of our family members leaked our wishlist to the inter-webs?

Also, we live in a shoebox. (Almost) literally. We are four people living in a tiny 800 sq. ft. apartment. Our backyard is bigger than the actual house. Anyone who visits us knows we have no room for anything else. No rocking horses, no trampolines, no riding toys, not even a kitchen set yet (I think those are some typical 1st or 2nd birthday gifts). We have toys we received as hand me downs and we have nowhere to store them until we use them as it is. Our "dining" room is a mishmash of old baby clothes, toys they're not ready for yet, CJ's guitars, a few folding chairs and exercise equipment. Where are we going to put more toys? And, I'll just say it: I'd much rather a fold-up tent and a water table that will get tons of use than more toys.

That's all I'm saying. Maybe this family is like ours. They saw an opportunity to help their child receive the things he or she actually wants and will use that they themselves cannot provide at the moment. My advice to them is to maybe hire a proof reader next time because some of it is super tacky and rude and while the intention is genuine it gets lost in the delivery. My advice to everyone else is to back the eff off and put yourself in their shoes. Quit acting like you have never in your life opened a gift for yourself or your child that you a) didn't like, b) already had or c) really didn't need or have room for. Sheesh.

I've created a wish list on amazon and I will be telling people about it when they ask (some already have) what the girls need or want for their birthday. I hope to god none of them takes it as harsh as this guest did and puts me on blast for the internet to see.  Jerk!

Xo,
Maigen

No comments :