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The value in clothes

When I was a kid, birthdays and holidays were the time you were supposed to get the cool stuff you saw on TV, that was destined to be awesome and fun. But alas, we always had that relative who insisted on giving us clothing. Not that clothing wasn't useful, but inevitably it would wind up being something that was beyond my taste, and not only would it sit in the draw unworn, but it would cast a spell of lameness on birthday presents. I could've had a real present.  They're not supposed to be useful.

Flash forward to my own kids. We have that relative who insists on giving clothes, and although I have told them we have enough clothes, it doesn't change the outcome. I get it, they have 12 nieces and nephews, pick a common theme and go with it. They are always very generous and the clothes are beautiful, but I feel bad that my kids aren't fans, and in their minds, that relative has become that relative.

#1 never cared about clothes at all. He wears clothes because we tell him to.  He opens new clothes and then throws them on the floor. If it doesn't beep, talk or have an entertaining function, it is lame. End of story.  Up until now, #2 and #3 didn't mind clothes, and sometimes they actually got excited. Nothing was more amusing than hearing #3 yell excitedly "oooh underwear", and #2 used to have equal enthusiasm for all presents, "I got sweatpants! Hooray!"

This year, the enthusiasm for apparel has declined.  #2, who always got excited about clothes, gave me the "more clothes really?" after he opened his second present of clothing. That is,  until he realized that the clothes were from his University of the future, Princeton, and then they were the best clothes ever. #3 has decided that "unless it's toys, it's lame" and there was no convincing him otherwise. His ODD has reared it's ugly head.

On #3's birthday, I watched him unwrap his presents and was taking video to show the family member the pure joy he had opening the presents.  I watched him discover his new gifts;  Legos, a remote controlled car, a Nerf gun and then, this:

How could I send that video?

I then sat down with #3, who now at seven, should be able to understand some bigger concepts: "we need to be grateful that we have people that love us so much that they take the time to shop and pick out presents and then mail them to us.  It takes a lot of time to do that and that means they really love us. It doesn't matter if it's not our favorite present, clothes are useful.  Now, we need to make a video to tell them how much you appreciate the clothes. It may not be your favorite thing, but it is useful. You need to thank them." That "Thank you" video needed to be convincing. I couldn't look like the parent of an ingrate.

It seemed that he got the pep-talk. He repeated my message back to me and I thought it worked. I was ready to pat myself on the back, but then I started shooting the video and put my hand down.

Attempt #1

"These are not the clothes I wanted, but it is very helpful. Thank you, but, I'd like to exchange the clothes for something. Thank you, but I don't know if they'll look good on me."

How could I send that video?

We tried five more times and each attempt was worse than the one before.  And then I just gave up. It was NEVER going to be a heartfelt thanks. It was always going to be "thanks for the sub-standard present" at best. There was no winning that battle.

Later on in the day the calls from friends and family members came. He asked one person, "are you the one that gave me the clothes?" Seriously. He has a vendetta. I told husband that he will never forget who gave him clothes. Ever.

Logically speaking I know he understands that clothes can be useful and that he should be grateful for a present. Does he like it? No. Will he survive? Yes. Will he remember it  as a shadow cast on his childhood as vividly as I do? Most definitely.

But, you try explaining why a sweatshirt is just as good or better than a Lego set.

Come on, I dare you.


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