An Ungracious Brat Gave My Daughter A Life Lesson On Being Thankful

I’ve noticed a few recent posts here about gift giving. Just in the past week we’ve covered what to give for baby showers (and what not),and re-gifting, and it’s a subject we’ve often discussed in the past. One thing that people forget about (myself included) is that it’s just as important to be a good gift receiver as it is to be a good gift giver (as we saw in Maria Guido‘s post last month about those bitchy brides).

A few years ago, when my oldest daughter was 7, she was invited to her cousin Esther’s seventh birthday party. She’d been to these types of parties before, but this one was special because she was old enough to really remember it and she was excited to help choose a gift. We made a whole afternoon out of it, going to the mall in Brooklyn (don’t judge, my life is boring and this was fun dammit). We had some super greasy awesome mall food court lunch and then headed to the toy store to pick a gift.

My daughter chose the My Little Pony toy that was all the rage at the time, complete with a little outfit for it. (*side note – When did My Little Pony become so different? Why do they even have clothes? They’re ponies, they’re supposed to be naked!We also picked up some adorable birthday-themed wrapping paper and bows, and headed home.

The day of the party we wrapped up the weird, purple, for-some-unknown-reason clothed My Little Pony, slapped on the bow and headed out, all dolled up in our best party gear (her; some adorable party dress, me; something not-yoga-pants). The party was your basic birthday bash for a 7-year-old girl. There was pin the tail on the donkey (except the donkey was Elmo, don’t ask me why), pizza, CAKE and pink. Pink everywhere. We were having a blast.

When it came time to open the presents, my daughter was so excited. She grabbed hers and brought it to Esther so she could open it up first. A second later, after a flurry of flying wrapping paper, the gift was open. But instead of the expected giggle of excitement, or even a damn “thank you,” Esther threw the thing over her shoulder (literally) into the trash and said “Ugh, I HAVE THIS already! You’re TERRIBLE.”

In front of EVERYONE.

Obviously my daughter was devastated. As a kid who enjoys getting anything as a gift (seriously, one time a waiter gave her his pen and she carried it around for a week, she was so excited), she simply did not understand the ingratitude. Honestly, neither did I. I didn’t really blame Esther though. You live what you learn and when the only thing you learn is selfishness, greed and entitlement, what else can you possible do?

In case you were wondering, no, not one person in her family reprimanded Esther or asked her to say thank you. I didn’t say anything about it, because who wants to be the pushy parent who complains about a lack of gratitude on a $25 My Little Pony toy, but the feeling I got from her mom was “kids will be kids.” Sorry if I think “kids” should still be polite.

That birthday party was a life lesson for my daughter. She learned that even if you have the best intentions, and do something wonderful and generous for someone, there is no guarantee that they will appreciate it. She learned that people can be rude, and mean and spiteful and you just gotta brush your shoulders off and walk away when they are. These were lessons she would have learned anyway, and at least I was there when she did, but it was hard none the less.

I think the important thing to keep in mind this Thanksgiving (I know it already passed for our many Canadian readers!) and gift giving season is that the thought counts. Even if you get 10 of the same thing, or you already have one, or whatever. I know it’s hard when you’re a first time mom and you don’t know what you need (and to be clear, I think Maria’s advice about getting staples and trying to stick to the registry is spot on, unless the registry is out of your budget) and it might be frustrating when you know you’re getting a re-gift (I once got re-gifted my own damn gift!), but you don’t know people’s circumstances or where their heart was at when they chose that gift. So maybe we could all be a little kinder to each other this year.

Every time I get a gift that I find less than exciting, I think of my little girl’s crushed expression when that kid threw her gift in the trash. Then I take a deep breath, get out my note cards and write a thank you note, even if I plan on returning (or re-gifting) it. If they gie it to me personally, I say thank you. Because an ungracious receiver is a lot worse than a bad gift.

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  • Lu

    It’s so sad that your daughter had to learn this lesson so early but I’m sure it made her even more thankful for everything she recieves.

  • keelhaulrose

    I commend you for not saying you’d take it back and walking out. Seriously, I know it’s a gift and the giftee can do what they want one it’s given, but I’d be horrified to watch half a tank of gas go into the garbage, and I would go after it in hopes it wasn’t ruined and could be returned or re-gifted.
    That family is going to be shocked when a bunch of kids have other things to do when her birthday rolls around again.
    ETA: bless you for making this a teaching moment for your daughter. It seems like it had a bigger impact than just saying “you need to thank everyone because it’s polite”.

  • CrushLily

    I was taught this principle and have lived solidly by it even as it seems the older I get, the more useless ‘stuff’ I get in the spirit of giving. I now plead with people to just not give me anything and I REALLY MEAN IT. With one exception – my partner. Last year, he gave me two bottles of wine for Christmas. I went apeshit. Now, I love wine and I’ve no doubt it was NICE wine, but wine is what you give the person who fed your cat for a week while you’re on holiday NOT the mother of your child. All of this was compounded by it being the first Christmas after my Mum died so I was particularly sensitive but honestly, he lives with me every single day and he can’t think of ANYTHING else? I buy a bottle of wine a week myself! He accused me of being ungracious – which I was – and, well, it degenerated from there. Did I react badly – yes. Was I ungracious – yes. Was I taught otherwise – absolutely. But sometimes – and this is now a total digression from the original article – you expect more of people. Anyway, the matter has been forgiven (obviously not forgotten) and this year I’m pregnant so there is no excuse…

    • Blueathena623

      Yup. “Its thr thought that counts” does not get much weight with significant others. One year my husband got me a wireless router, which, oddly enough, he had really been wanting. I set it up, put a password on it, and said he could have the password when he came back with a real present.

    • CrushLily

      Ah, the joy of loving an unromantic man, I feel your pain. My gift from my 18 month old son last year was a portable hard drive. And for my birthday – a wireless speaker. Both of which were not as bad as the wine, because he at least thought up some flimsy reasoning for why they were necessary, but the wine – nothing. And nothing forthcoming under direct (albeit tearful) questioning. My new gift was a gift voucher from my beautician. Not sure why that was so hard to think of himself.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      Oh the joy of an unromantic man. Our first valentines I already knew it was time to give up. He got me a heart shaped tin of hershey’s kisses(ok, cheap but fine)
      Then over the next week he proceeded to eat all the kisses himself. Nothing much has changed in 5 years….

    • Blueathena623

      I gave him some slack our first several, several holidays together, but it reaches a point when bath salts no longer cut it. And I know sometimes he tries, but he will latch on to the most random thing I say, and stick with it, no matter how many times I talk about what I really once. A few years ago I saw a collection of salts from around the world. I said something like how that’s neat, I wonder what they taste like.
      Do you know how many different containers of salt I have? 3 things of pink Himalayan salt, just to name one. It was like “ok, wow, not sure how you remembered what I said, but cool.” Several holidays later, I’m sick of salt. So sick of salt. I’d be an incredibly rich person in Ancient Rome, but not doing too much for me in 2013.

    • jendra_berri

      You are Marge when Homer gave her a bowling ball with his name on it for her birthday and she decided to take up bowling. 100% approve.

    • keelhaulrose

      Unromantic men… you have to love them.
      My husband for my birthday one year brought me outside to present me with my gift of… my own car. He had put new brakes on it. Um, I could be wrong, but having brakes on the car that will stop the car, as my prior ones had been starting to fail to do, is part and parcel of owning a car. And he’s a flipping mechanic. His job involves fixing brakes. So he took my car to work, did routine maintenance, and brought it home as a ‘present’. He didn’t understand why I gave him ‘the look’.

    • Rachel Sea

      I would rather be told frankly that I’m not getting a gift for whatever reason, than have some random chore presented as my gift; it makes the lack of real gift seem calculated.

      If it were an extraordinary chore, like painting a bedroom, or cleaning out the garage, THEN I would see it as a thrilling gift.

    • keelhaulrose

      I was thrilled my car could stop, but yeah, short of having the basement cleaned out and organized a chore isn’t a gift.

    • Aldonza

      That is my favorite. My husband is generally pretty good, but sometimes has his weird clueless and oblivious moments. Like when he got me tickets to something I already had tickets to. “You were talking about it…” “Yes, I was talking about it because I had bought tickets to it!”

    • CrazyLogic

      That’s actually kind of adorable…

    • Alfreda

      Honestly I think gift giving is for kids. My husband and I would
      never buy each other gifts, until we started celebrating birthdays with
      his parents. Then it is expected, so we will just wrap up something we
      would have bought anyway. One year we got each other new pillows.

      When we want something as an adult, we just buy it. If I can’t afford to
      buy it, I wouldn’t want to receive it as a gift from my husband because
      that would mean he spent OUR money on something we can’t afford.

      Usually we will just use Christmas as an excuse to buy clothing. He goes shopping for him, I go shopping for me and we give it to the other
      person to wrap up. If we happen to need new sports equipment we will use that as our gift eg. skates/ski equipment. A router would be a
      completely acceptable gift and in fact we asked for that from his
      brother one year as a joint gift. Saved us $100. Otherwise you just accumulate junk that you feel bad about throwing out because it was a gift.

      If I didn’t have to come up with $50 or $100 gifts for my in-laws (3 adult
      nephews + 2 brother-in-laws + 2 parents multiply by 2 for Christmas and birthday) I could basically buy whatever I want myself and never need a gift.

      To be fair, they ask what you want and have a similar budget so I get really great gifts but sometimes I don’t need ANYTHING and I am sure they don’t use half of the stuff we give them even if we do ask for what they want. It just seems silly.

      Kids are different. Usually they are super excited to receive ANYTHING even if they don’t end up playing with it. This year I told anybody who asked to give my daughter clothes or books because she has just barely enough clothing that she needs, but she LOVES choosing her clothing in the morning and having more options is something she wants but doesn’t need. My kids are 5 and 6.5 but they adore new clothes.

      I do feel nostalgic towards the feeling you get as a kid when Christmas is coming and you are going to get gifts, but the point of that was, our parents never bought us anything except at Christmas or birthday, so if we wanted something we basically had to wait and decide if that was really what we wanted months later. That made Christmas special because I could not afford to buy myself the toy. When I started working, saving up and buying the thing was special too, especially when my parents would surprise me and pay for it because they were proud that I saved up for it. Then I used the money to buy my text books and tuition for university.

    • Andrea

      My 1st reaction was to downvote, but I read it again, and I think you are right. We can (and really should) expect more from our life partners. It’s not about the VALUE of the gift but it IS about how much thought they put into it.
      One of the most precious gifts I have ever gotten was a hand drawn portrait of me my husband gave me. He worked on it for days without me even realizing it! I never posed for it, he just drew me when he could. The gift cost him no money, but it was a labor of love and I cherish it.

    • AmazingE

      It’s stories like this that help me to remember how truly lucky I am to have married the man I married. He might not be the chocolates and flowers type, but when it comes to gift giving, he knocks it out of the park. Our first Christmas together (before we got married), he went all out and got me what is probably my favorite gift ever, a complete eleven piece set of Doctor Who action figures. I was so excited I actually clapped and squealed.

      My family, however is a different story. They try really hard, and I know they put tons of thought into what they buy me, but a few years ago I finally told them to just buy me food, haha. You can’t go wrong with a giant box of Rocher or cherry cordials, at least not with me.

    • Blueathena623

      You know, I do have to give my husband credit for one amazing birthday — rented a cottage in the mountains and I got the boxed set of extended editions of LOTR. That was a great year.

    • SusannahJoy

      Mine got me a weeping angel statue last christmas! :)

    • Rachel Sea

      Jealous! My wife says I’m forbidden from putting a weeping angel statue in the yard.

    • SusannahJoy

      Ours is small, so it moves around the house. It’s usually trying to get some kind of booze though.

    • Rachel Sea

      My mom has bought me the same coffee table book of “Victorian Homes” four times. She has bought me so many coffee table books over the years, I have finally decided to sell all 250 pounds of them to a used bookseller and take myself out to dinner with the proceeds.

    • emily

      Ah, the romantic man. My husband,who is wonderful in many ways, has never been into Valentine’s Day. I do not mind, as it has never been a huge deal for me, either. My only request is that, in lieu of a gift, he just not complain about it. In return, I have given him super awesome gifts, including an otoscope (invaluable if you have little kids at home) and a nose hair trimmer. Laissez les bons temps roulez!

    • jmuns79

      My birthday was on Friday. My husband bought me a Wax Vac (the thing that is supposed to suck the wax from your ears). Sigh.

    • Lee

      My 30th was last Saturday. Granted I bought myself a plane ticket to go visit my best friend in CA as a happy birthday to me gift. All I got was a phone call. I even came back with a slightly pricey, well thought out souvenir for him (a preserved baby octopus- weird but awesome). The sad part is I wasn’t even phased. I am so used to this.

    • Frances Locke

      See, I think the whole “thought that counts” thing I talked about in the post was pretty much about everyone except those exceptionally close to you. I go out of my way to get my mom, my husband, etc a thoughtful gift and they do the same. My husband especially. NOW he does, anyway. I feel like, if he knows I am going to think out a gift months in advance (one time I got him a first edition of a book he has loved since childhood) he should do the same.

      But wait, what kind of wine are we talking about here?

    • Rachel Sea

      My wife can totally buy me a super Tuscan, or 50 year old port – except that she can’t because that stuff is CRAZY expensive. If she bought me a random Trader-Joe’s-Recommends, I would take back her present, and give her a package of Oreo’s instead.

    • Pappy

      I’m one of those “Please just tell me what you want!” people. I SUCK at picking gifts. I would rather the person say “I could really use X” than me try to pick something and screw it up. Lacking directions, I fall back on wine or chocolate in a panic. Usually this works out fine. Most people are happy with something they can eat/drink.
      I always wish I could do the same with folks… Just tell them “I want this” but depending on the person, that can be awkward. I don’t want to seem like I’m demanding a gift but I also don’t want more clutter I have no use for.
      One X-Mas was super awkward because we were SUPPOSED to do secret Santa and only get a gift for one person. Of course the rich in-laws of relations totally ignored that and spent tons of money on lavish gifts for their blood relatives while the rest of us got and gave only one gift. I know they meant to be generous to their family, but it made the whole thing feel like a slap in the face. I never want to celebrate with them again after that.

    • Katk

      Unless I’m mistaken, you were upset BECAUSE it’s the thought that counts and you felt there wasn’t much thought put into the gift. That makes sense, whether or not you reacted as sensibly as you might have.

    • historychick79

      My husband and I are completely pragmatic about this–we give each other a list with a few options, and we purchase something directly off the list with no guilting or looks or resentment. This way, we know we’ll get something we can appreciate, and the other person doesn’t stress over trying to pick out something that is welcomed. Win-win.

    • Rachel Sea

      I love Amazon wishlists so much, I can’t even.

    • SusannahJoy

      I dunno, I love wine. And I know if my husband bought me some for my birthday, it’d be wine that he looked up and researched to make sure was the best. And I’d like that. Sure, I buy wine for myself all the time, but that’s usually with a $10 a bottle limit, he’d buy me something special, and then we’d have that wine together at dinner or whatever, and it would be about the nice time together and the nice memory we created.

  • KatieLady

    my heart ached for your daughter.. even though it was now years ago and she has learned from it.. i am sad each time my children have to learn and re learn(thank you Teen girl yrs!! ) this lesson.. esp. my son with not-the-best-social-skills…

  • Amber Starr

    You have an amazing, kind little girl. I’m so sorry that she was so hurt in that moment, but it sounds like she learned a lot from it and will never hurt another person the way she was at that party. It just sucks and I wish that we could’ve taken her back to the mall to buy her ALL THE PONIES!!!!!!!!

  • Blueathena623

    I’m guessing that little girl will never write a thank you note in her life. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your daughter some nice stationary and a good pen for when she starts to write her own :)

    • Frances Locke

      My daughter LOVES writing thank you notes! She will write them for pretty much anything, no matter how (seemingly) small. And I would never discourage it!

  • Edify

    My little ponies had clothes in the 80′s. I had one that had roller skates and a few other things and baby ones that came complete with diapers and a pram.

    On receiving gifts, you need to see my three year old daughter. I can give her a new toothbrush and she’ll exclaim that she LOVES it like she would love a unicorn shitting glitter rainbows and lollipops. I really hope she maintains that enthusiasm because it makes anyone who gives her something feel like they are a gift giving genius

    • Véronique Houde

      My one-year old got really excited about us buying a potty today. she walked around with the cushioned toilet seat all afternoon. I sat her down on it and she just giggled on it for 5 minutes. Guess she just loves shit…!

    • Edify

      Her shit don’t stink!

    • Frances Locke

      Did they really always have clothes? I don’t remember mine from the 80′s having clothes. Now I kinda feel left out.

    • Edify

      Mine did but is only had a couple and my parents tended to be late adapters so it was probably quite a bit into the 80′s trend. You can find some vintage ones on eBay!

    • Toaster

      They did! Mine had little shoes and everything.

    • Rachel Sea

      I remember a baby with a diaper now that Edify mentions it. I think one might have had a tutu also? I don’t remember shoes or anything, but it’s probable that I just didn’t have them.

    • Frances Locke

      I am very disappointed that I missed out on this as a kid!

  • Mindbabble13

    Did you just call out your 7 year old niece by name for a lapse in judgement that happened years ago and then imply that her parents don’t teach her any better on a public platform? Am I missing something or is that just really petty?

    • Sara610

      Well, clearly her parents DIDN’T teach her any better. Yes, calling her out by name isn’t great, but who knows–maybe “Esther” is a fake name.

      But this is absolutely, completely appalling behavior and the fact that her parents didn’t (after dying of embarrassment) have her apologize for her horrible, rude behavior speaks volumes.

    • Frances Locke

      Thank you. Esther is definitely a fake name. Like I said to the commenter above, the post was very confusing without some more details, but the identifying details are absolutely changed to protect people’s identities. I honestly just kind of liked the name Esther, it’s not even close to the girl’s real name.

    • Billybob

      Amen. If anything I wish the parents could read the article and perhaps get a wake up call and teach their child some manners.

    • Frances Locke

      Whoa, hold your horses, lol. The names and identifying details have obviously been changed. The only reason I even included a name was because there were way too many “she”s and “her”s in there for it to make sense.

  • Emme

    I was four years old and I still remember a birthday party for a neighbor. I too bought her a My Little Pony (back when they were more rotund and naked) and she too announced to everyone that she already had that one. She had the most sour look on her face. I remember running out the front door and down the sidewalk back home because I was so crushed! I am not looking forward to those same feelings my child will experience because I am thinking it will hurt worse.

    I also haven’t received a thank you note for a (small) wedding I attended at the beginning of August. Do people still think they have a YEAR to send thank you notes for wedding gifts? I also know that I was on the “B list” to be invited after the first wave of “A list” RSVPs started coming in. And I could have used that money for my first baby that is due soon, but that’s okay– don’t even send a timely thank you note! No problem! Enjoy the cash!

    Okay, I guess I am done.

    • Aldonza

      …feeling a sudden urge to go start writing the wedding thank you cards I’d been putting off…

    • NicknamesAreDull

      I sent mine 2 weeks after the wedding, and I was mortified it took me so long.

    • Gloria

      We had our reception on Saturday. Everyone should have received their thank you’s by Thursday. It really is not that much work- much easier to sit down and bust them out. I was mostly surprised at how grateful people were for the thank you notes.. really made me more persistant in doing them asap after an event. My friend who got married right after me took over a year to send them out- took me a minute to figure out what the hell the card from her was for.

    • CrazyLogic

      It took my brother and sister in law that long to get them out. I saw them writing them out right after the wedding, but apparently someone stole half of them from the mailbox because they were bitchy.

      They felt so bad when they found out half of them were not sent.

  • Benwhoski

    The various posts I’ve seen about gifts have made me kind of sad. I feel like, as a culture, we’ve forgotten what “gifts” are. I hate the trend where gifts have become an obligation. The whole point of a gift is that it’s something given voluntarily. It’s not something that we are owed. If it’s something that is obligated, it’s no longer a gift. It’s just some sort of payment or tithe.

    Back when I was a teenager, I treated a friend really lousy for giving me what I thought was a stupid birthday gift (my first boyfriend, even). My mother made it very clear to me how awful that was of me, and how embarrassed she was by my behavior. He didn’t *have* to give me a damn thing.

    And I really thought about how I would have felt if he had done that to me. The lesson stuck.

    • Sara610

      THIS. I completely agree. I also hate the current trend that says it’s bad to make a child feel ashamed of his or her behavior–because it might hurt his/her self esteem.

      In middle school, I joined my entire class in ganging up on/bullying the girl who was supposed to be my best friend. I have no excuse–it was a horrible thing to do and I knew I was doing a horrible thing as I did it. We were both pretty much outcasts, and the temptation of being “in” with the popular kids overrode my sense of basic decency. She was in tears, and my betrayal probably made it that much worse.

      When my mom found out what I’d done, she was beyond livid. She told me under no uncertain terms how disappointed and disgusted she was by my behavior, and you’d better believe I was more ashamed than I’d ever been in my life. As well I should have been–the keen sense of never, EVER wanting to feel that way again had a direct impact on my learning how to treat other people. My mom had no qualms about making me feel ashamed when my behavior had been shameful–and she taught me a valuable lesson that made me a better person.

    • Blueathena623

      I think there is a big difference between actually acting ungrateful and talking about our hidden feelings on posts about gifts and gift giving. I’ve talked a lot about my feelings on gifts, but if I act very polite and thankful and write heartfelt thank you notes, does it really matter that I confess that I wasn’t too thrilled with a nut cracker or other odd gift?

    • Angela

      I agree. No matter what I’m given I’m gracious and I genuinely do appreciate the thought. But it doesn’t mean that I particularly love every gift or am able to find uses for everything. Of course it’s tacky to attempt to hold your guests hostage to a gift registry or to expect your family and friends to furnish your nursery according to your specifications. But I don’t really see the problem with saying that certain types of gifts are more useful to new parents than others and that registries are great for letting you know what they want/need to help guide other people who really want to give something that will be appreciated.

    • Benwhoski

      I think we’ve all gotten gifts in our lives that weren’t particularly what we wanted. And I don’t think confessing that is bad in and of it self.

      I just think there is a fine line between giving gift-giving advice and making gift-giving demands. I think some of the recent articles have leaned toward the latter (in particular, the one about re-gifting).

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      My parents raised me with the belief that it’s not WHAT you get from someone, it’s the fact they put the time, thought and effort into finding you something nice, be it a book, clothes or even a lovely card.
      One of my best presents ever was from my father for my 21st.
      we’d had a strained relationship for years during my teens due to my depression (i admit, it was all started by my irrationality)
      he drew me a card, with a handdrawn picture of me in different stages, from left to right, a picture of him holding me as a baby, then me with my dogs, then me in my debs dress, then me and him together.
      and inside he just wrote- Life is a beautiful irresistible waltz, let me dance with you.
      (my dad is a musician and I used to always dance whenever he played or sang in the house. he’d jump up and start dancing with me, from when I was a baby up until I was about 16. i stopped during my moodiness)

      I cried and cried, called him and now our relationship has never been better.

      if I had said it to some of my friends- my dad drew me a card, i know some of them would be thinking, urgh, cheap, but that card means more to me than anything (i even got Life is a beautiful irresistible waltz tattooed on me)

    • SusannahJoy

      That is so sweet!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      That card means more to me than any present I could have gotten. The only other thing I got that comes close was after my best friend died, his mother gave me a leather wristband I had given him years before. He wore it everyday and was wearing it when he died.
      His mother gave it to me at his funeral and said she knew he’d want me to have it back. I wear it every day.

    • rebecca eckler

      Frances!! Hello!! Just to set the record straight, it was me who told my daughter, after she mentioned (Just to me!) that she it did seem like she received fewer gifts, because five of them were the same. My daughter DID NOT say this in an ungrateful way, just more of a thought. And it was ME who said, “that’s because five of them were the same.” I put it in Caps, yes, but, again, I didn’t mean it in an ungrateful way. Obviously, I got a BIG FAIL on that post, because it didn’t come across as it actually happened. She was happy with the gifts!!! Sometimes, sigh, humor does not come across in writing :) Or maybe I’m not funny! :)

    • Frances Locke

      I hope you don’t think I was being overly negative about your post. I Actually enjoyed it a lot and I don’t think you or your daughter were being crazy ungrateful or anything. Like I said in my piece, I know how shitty it feels to get a re-gift. Someone seriously re-gifted something for my birthday that I gave them for Christmas. I guess they hated it, lol.

    • Rachel Sea

      Maybe not, I’ve regifted things that I really liked, but couldn’t use. There is only so much room for stuff.

    • CrazyLogic

      …if you’re going to plan to re-gift at least write down who it came from to avoid doing that…

  • jendra_berri

    Miss Manners would have advocated for taking it home if you said, “I’m so sorry to have offended you with this gift. Let me remove it for you.” She also wrote a book about how to rear polite children, in case Ester’s “Kids Will Be Kids” mom has a birthday coming up.

    • Frances Locke

      I forgot to mention that another party go-er did dig the gift out of the trash before the end of the party, and put it back with the rest of the gifts. I’m not sure what happened after that. There are so many things I wish I had done, but in that moment they all felt rude or awkward.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I wanna shake the other party go-ers hand, though. Nice one. Could only have been better if they’d have snuck it back to you somehow. :)

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    Well done!!!
    We had this once when I took my little sister to a cousin’s birthday. She got her a Hello Kitty magic oven (thing cost €40 feckin euro, but hey, family)
    not only did she blatantly tell my little sis she didnt like it, she then proceeded to tell her that hello kitty is for babies.
    My little sister was 7, the cousin turned 8.
    I was furious, as I hardly get to see my little sis (split parents) and this brat had absolutely crushed her. she had even used ten euro of her piggy bank money to help pay for it.
    So I said well if you don’t want it, we’ll take it back and we can send the money to your mother instead, she can put it into savings for you.
    I told my aunt we were going to return the gift and send her the money- and fair play to her, she went beserk at her daughter, said if she was going to be ungrateful, next year she’d tell everyone’s parents to get her savings instead.
    she truly reprimanded her daughter which I have to applaud her for.
    in the end, my little sis passed the oven on to another friend (8th birthday) and we sent her cousin a talking money box with €20 in it instead.

  • Hana Graham

    This reminded me of the exact opposite happening when I was probably…5 or 6. My best friend at the time was having a birthday party. The hot item then was that “Pretty Pretty Princess” game. By the time she had opened her fourth copy of PPP (all of which she was grateful for) I burst into tears and exclaimed, “I GOT YOU THE SAME THIIIIING!”

    I was (and she was, obviously) raised with manners to be thankful for any and all gifts. My little sister would actually pretend to be grateful and then bin her gifts and I’d feel bad…for the gifts…and retrieve them. To this day I write super long thank you notes thanking them for even thinking of us at all and for the kindness of their gifts.

    Working in retail for seven horrible years exposed me to a lot of kids the day after Christmas who were rude and ungrateful for their gifts. It’s only made me that much more positive I’m going to reinforce the need for being grateful and writing thank you notes in my own kids one day.

  • Shelly Lloyd

    I’m fairly certain that I am not going to make any friends with this comment, but why is it ok to act like an ungrateful brat when our husband’s give us a gift that we do not like? Why is ungrateful behavior bad when it is the kid next door throwing away a gift your child gave them that they did not want, but if your husband gives you a gift that isn’t up to par it is ok to show the same bratty behavior? Is gifts-giving an obligation once you are married? If we would not accept that sort of treatment from others, why would we do the same to someone we have vowed to love, honor and take care of?

    • Frances Locke

      I would never treat my husband badly for giving me a gift I didn’t like. He’s done it plenty of times. I’ve done it too, lol. We simply talk it out, return said gift and get something else. Actually, at this point we’re past the gift giving stage. We prefer to put some money aside for an experience rather than a gift.

    • Rachel Sea

      It’s not okay to throw a fit, but there is a higher standard for people who live with you, and see you all the time, and a blatantly thoughtless gift does merit a conversation.

  • Angela

    That’s awful. I do wonder though whether it’s possible that someone took your niece aside after the party and let her know how hurtful her remarks were. As a parent I actually try not to reprimand my kids in front of others. I do it out of courtesy to them and also because I find they’re more receptive. I see it as similar to a boss who calls an employee into a private meeting to reprimand rather than doing it where the whole office could hear. Sometimes though people assume that because they don’t see me correcting my kids that I don’t do it at all which is not true.

    Also, even though I would have waited to discuss it with my child I certainly would not have simply ignored the incident either. My priority would have been soothing your daughters feelings. I would have apologized for my child’s behavior and told her how much I appreciated both her presence and her gift. I also would have insisted on returning said gift to your daughter explaining that anyone who doesn’t appreciate her gift doesn’t deserve to have it.

    • Frances Locke

      Sadly, the way the child reacted is exactly how the mother reacts to things, so I doubt they reprimanded her in anyway. Also, I just realized that everyone thinks this was my sister or brother’s kid, and it’s not. Both my ex and I have HUGE families (Irish, German and Jewish descent, depending on which side you’re talking about) and my daughter has literally a hundred first, second third and even fourth cousins that she sees!

    • CrazyLogic

      Dear god I would not have been able to keep all their names straight…

  • FF4life

    My daughter is obsessed with those new my little ponies. We pass by them in the store and she always wants it even if she has one already. But I guess that’s the difference between a three year old and a seven year old.

    • Benwhoski

      I dunno. I was a child of the 80′s and obsessed with the first generation of MLP. I never minded having duplicate ponies. More ponies was ALWAYS a good thing.

      Besides, how else could I play out the “Dancing Butterflies is Confronted by her Evil Twin” scenario properly?

      Okay, so maybe I was weird kid.

    • FF4life

      If you didn’t play out the evil twin scenario you never had a real childhood.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Hooray for evil twins! In my case it was Cat-Ra from She-Ra. Actually, I got three of them, so there was Cat-Ra, the opposite twin (depending on whether Cat-Ra was being good or evil that particular day), and, of course, the IMPOSTER! :-)

    • Rachel Sea

      The evil twin/evil cousin plot line is a classic. Every (retrospectively) lame ’80s sitcom ran it at least once.

    • Frances Locke

      My oldest is almost 10 and she still likes ponies, ha ha!

    • CrazyLogic

      I know a nineteen year old boy that watched the show with a little cousin, decided he actually liked it, and now collects the ponies…

      Bronies are a varied bunch.

  • pineapples

    I think that all children go through this process (especially in this age of “my darling, spoiled princess), BUT as parents it is our job to curb it. Talk to your kids about it! Before our birthday parties I discuss this issue with my daughters. I don’t care if they wrapped hotdogs as a birthday gift! You will tell them Thank you!

  • AE Vorro

    Well said. And what a great kid you have!

  • GPMeg

    You have such perfect timing! My awful SIL (Queen of the Sanctimommies) just sent message out to the entire family about how they don’t want us to buy more than this that or the other for the kids and if we get something not on the list it will be donated and they want to teach the kids about being thankful for what they have. This may seem fairly normal and not out of the realm of normal people BUT, she has zero tact and two of her children are recently adopted from Ethiopia where they had nothing that was their own AND she waited until she knew we were all done with our Christmas shopping. Amaaaaaziiiiing! I wrote thank you notes for every single thing I got as a child and was taught that gift giving is equally about the person giving as the person receiving. Be thankful, be kind, and consider the thought and love behind a gift!

  • CrazyLogic

    This is why I’m considering doing the “open presents after the party when everyone is gone” thing…

  • Simone

    I feel for your daughter but I definitely feel sorrier for Esther! Somehow her parents have taught her how to be unlikeable, rude, and hurtful. That’s really not going to serve her well in life and her parents have absolutely let her down. You, on the other hand, have taught your daughter how to behave in ways that make her good to be around, ensuring that she will find friends wherever she goes.

  • Victoria Gaunt

    Reading all these stories about how ungrateful kids can be about birthday/christmas gifts makes me feel bad for the next generation.

    For Christmas, I got a bunch of Pittsburgh Penguins stuff, including tickets to a game, and I had a massive fangirl moment when I saw what I had gotten. I was thrilled to bits over a pair of TICKETS to a hockey game. And there are kids out there complaining because they got the wrong colored iPhone.

    If the kid is ungrateful, take the present back and give it to someone who will appreciate it.