Tuesday, August 22, 2006

a little vent

Maybe I have the wrong attitude. It's entirely possible, maybe even probable. Because I've had a bad attitude concerning this person since she told me it would have been better if I would have found out about the abuse that was happening on my own and we could have kept it in the family. ... No, I've had a bad attitude since I realized that she plays favorites with family members and my kids always got the short end of the stick. It's one thing if it's between cousins that certain kids get shafted, that's bad enough. But when the kids getting shafted are half siblings and live with the kids getting favored, that's not so good. And that's how it was in this case. I say was because since my husband's arrest, the two half siblings have moved out of state with their mom.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. There is a certain family member (family to me by marriage) who lives in the metropolitan area, but still far enough away that it's a big ordeal to go visit one another. This certain family member always remembers birthdays and Christmas, and buys my kids presents. If we have a birthday party and she is invited, she comes, and she makes a point of stopping by at Christmas to give the kids their presents. But the rest of the year, we don't see her. And we don't hear from her. She doesn't call to talk to the kids, she doesn't call to ask how they are, we only hear from her when it's time to give someone a gift. Then it's "I tried to get this here on time but I was so busy at work, and you know I have my newest grand daughter every weekend, it was just so hard to get to the store..." or "I've been working two jobs so I could buy a little more for the kids, but Ive got arthritis in my back and...." and "my husband doesn't know I spent this much, he'd be so mad if he did.." That's right! As an added bonus, every gift comes with an all expense paid guilt trip!

So, my 9 year old's birthday was in May. We didn't have a major party, just cake and ice cream with our immediate family. This family member sent my daughter a card that said she had a gift for her and would bring it over within a week or so. The beginning of August rolled around, and we had not heard from this family member again. Then one day, the two younger kids were outside playing, and the 9 year old came running in with a white trash bag saying "Look what I found!!!" It had a purple backpack that had a small skateboard strapped on to the bottom. No note, just the trashbag with a backpack in it. I was a little freaked out by it, partially because where it was in the yard because it meant that someone had to come far up into my yard by my front door. And who would just leave something there like that and not say something? I considered calling the police and asking them to pick it up as found property. But the kids were excited and were sure there was nothing creepy about it. I gave in and let them keep it. I was thinking it was the next door neighbor, who has been very kind to us since she saw the police here on March 1st, 2004.

Last night, I went to a birthday party for one of the other family members, and this certain family member was there. She said to me "So did C get her birthday present?" I couldn't figure out what she was talking about, and I'm sure I gave her a look like she was from Mars or something. "Oh when the boys were in town I asked their mom to drop it by your house since she was staying close by!" Then it clicked. The mystery gift it the white trashbag was my daughter's birthday present! And of course that was followed by "I've just been way too busy or I would have brought it by myself blah blah blah blah..." She seemed slightly offended that we didn't thank her for it before she asked.

How do you explain to someone that it's not the obligation but the thought that counts? How do you get through to someone that the gift that kids want most is their presence, not their presents? Of course this all makes me think about what kind of gift giver I am. Do I wrap my gifts in guilt trips also? I pray I can always keep in mind that it really is the thought that counts, but time is worth more than anything.


mouse said...

Gee I don't know what to tell you. I would probably try and keep my kids away from these relatives as much as possible. I would probably explain to my kids that some people don't know how to say they care or love you so they try to buy those feelings with gifts.

Connie said...

Thanks Mouse. We do avoid them, but I don't really have to explain anything to the kids because they don't notice much of a difference. Unfortunately I can't avoid them totally, and that's one of the reasons I have a long range goal to move out of Arizona.

mouse said...

Move to GA, you haven't visited there yet and it is HOT but if you live in Arizona you are use to the heat.

Connie said...

Yeah but here's a DRY heat. We bake but we're able to breathe while we're doing it :) I'm not sure where I'll go, but I've got some time. The 14 year old wants to finish high school where she is, and she's in 9th grade now. That gives me time to get the house ready to sell and take the next step at work - dispatch training. I figure if I can do police dispatch here in this big city, I can dispatch anywhere. And there's always a need for those. I just really don't want to be where there's... that nasty white stuff that falls from the sky in winter. I mean, if God sent me somewhere like that I'd go, but the desert rat in me would really prefer some place warmer.