Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My kids are young and not always so tactful when it comes to receiving gifts. For instance, for his birthday, my four year-old was really disappointed to open a present and find a football instead of something battery operated. He expressed this disappointment in front of the gift-giver, and it was a little embarrassing. I don't expect my four year-old to yet understand the social graces of forced smiles and excitement, but how do I handle these types of situations in the future? Christmas is coming and I'm a little nervous.
Your question has brought back memories of this one Christmas at my grandmother's about a decade (or two) back. My wealthy aunt had handed me a beautifully-wrapped box and my mind raced with images of baby blue Tiffany boxes, Prada handbags, and keys to luxury cars. Much to my dismay, the box was full of bullcrap like flowery headbands, nail polish, and patterned tights.
I was a teenager practically, and I still had to bite my lip to suppress the tears. I mean, really. WHO GIVES A HEADBAND FOR CHRISTMAS?!
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that this is a perfectly normal reaction. It may not be socially acceptable, but as you said, the kid is FOUR and he hasn't yet learned how to perfect the passive-aggressive half-smile of gratitude that suggests "Really? A FOOTBALL? That's the best you could do?!"
If you think it's appropriate, have a conversation with your son before it's time to open gifts in front of an audience. Something that covers the basics:
1. Gifts are rarely freely given, child. You owe the gift-giver a smile, hug, and a set of jumper cables should he/she ever call you at 3 am for help with a dead battery.
2. Gifts are often more for the person giving them than they are for the recipient. This is because life is a cold, dark place, and we all try to relive our childhoods with awkward social interactions with modern youth.
3. The older the gift-giver, the more absurd the gift will be. Brace yourself for impact before removing the paper, and you should be able to muster a meek smile.
I'm of the belief that you should gently remind your child to be appreciative and all that jazz, but also that the person giving the present should be understanding enough to realize that children are really damn unpredictable.
Unless the boy flies into a rage that culminates with public urination, I don't think you have much to worry about.
Photo Credit: MissMessie.
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