Calling my parents to let them know of our plans to see my parents over the Christmas break, they could barely contain their excitement. And it wasn’t so much over the actual visit but more to do with the delight of what they had bought for the kids.
“Just you wait until you see what we got you!” my mother would say to my twin sons in her sing-song voice, like she was dangling a huge carrot.
I would sigh in frustration but also with surrender. So many times, there were arguments about the constant giving of extravagant gifts – expensive remote toy cars, scooters. With every visit and special occasion the presents seem to just get bigger and flashier.
So when I saw the expensive bright shiny red Mini Cooper S “mini”cars – one for each twin – parked and waiting for my boys to ride them, I knew it was a losing battle.
Do I just give in now? Or do I mention to my parents, yet again how hard I try as a parent to keep my boys grounded and gracious; that presents such as these are not helping my cause at all.
Despite her son being the only grandchild, and spoilt accordingly by her mother, Tegan from Far North Queensland also thinks it’s important for a parent’s wishes to be respected by grandparents.
“My parents absolutely spoil my son but my mum always checks with me about the bigger stuff and if I say no, then she respects that.”
Let’s face it. Size matters.
South Coast mum of two, Jen recalls when she told her mum repeatedly to stick to small presents to cater to their small place.
Instead, her mum bought an entire toy kitchen set, including oven, stove and fridge, leaving very little left for their tiny lounge room.
Then there’s that little game of favourites. Sydney mum Stephanie fondly remembers her own mother and Nan spoiling her to bits.
However, when it comes to her own children, her mother has her two favourites and leaves the others out. Now teenagers, there’s sadly very little love between them and their inequitable grandmother.
Mrs P has a similar issue with her step mum who clearly goes OTT with her own grandchildren but sticks to a strict $50 limit with her step granddaughters.
Looking from a grandparent’s perspective, Denyse loves spending the time “seeking out of ideas and fun of putting the gifts together”. From movie vouchers to homemade envelopes with cash, the grandma of eight says, “I couldn’t be happier at how the each enjoy their surprises”.
Maybe my friend Donna, a Canberra mother of three is on to something. Maybe it just comes back to remembering that with thelimited time we have with grandparents, their role is simply “to create amazing memories for us to remember for the rest of our lives.” And as Donna plainly put it “If that means to let them have the joy of giving, then so be it”.
Obviously, there are no ground rules that can be set for grandparents and gift giving. From most of the stories portrayed, they most likely wouldn’t pay attention to them anyway.
Besides, each family will have its own unique ideas and conflicting definitions of appropriateness. The different dynamics will also reflect this.
Maybe it’s not about losing the battle with grandparents. Maybe it’s just accepting the complications and knowing that like with most things – including the festive season – it’s all over before we know it. Why spend precious time in angst?
I reached an ultimatum with my folks. The boys get to keep their fancy little cars on the condition that 1) the contraptions stay at my parents’ place as we clearly have NO room and 2) these cars are also presents for their birthday coming up in January.