Mom Told to Exchange the Present She Brought to 6-Year-Old's Birthday Party


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When it comes to little kids' birthday parties, you may have thought you'd heard everything: gift registries, asking that receipts be attached with the present, the suggestion of favorite brand names even. But this one takes the (birthday) cake! A mom and hostess asked that a partygoer take back her gift and exchange it for something her 6-year-old son would prefer. Oh, no, she didn't! Oh, yes, she did!

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And, the kicker is: The gift wasn't something that could be construed as offensive, like a toy AK-47 or even a 3,000-piece Lego set. (Even then, just accept it graciously and re-gift it later, sister, c'mon now!) It was ... wait for it ... a book! (Unless it was part of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, this really makes no sense.)

Here's how Liz Dashwood, the mom who was asked to take her book back, explains in her column for The Pool this bizarre interaction that would make Emily Post blush:

It was Marco's birthday party, so I wrapped a book up for him, got Thomas to write 'Happy Birthday' -- or at least 'Hapee burthda' -- on the paper, because I'd lost the frigging card I'd bought, went to the party and handed it to his mother with a smile. She took it in one hand and gave it back to me in the other, saying, 'Marco doesn't really like books -- anything else would be fine.' And sort of gestured in the general direction of the shops.

There's so much wrong here. Aside from the fact that a gift is just that -- something that by its definition is "given willingly to someone without payment" -- and should therefore be accepted with gratitude, what mom is okay with saying "My child doesn't really like books"?? 

I love that Dashwood still tried to keep an open mind in relation to this foolishness. She wrote:

I think of books as an unmitigated Good Thing. I basically reckon that the quality of anyone's life is improved by adding a book to it. Yes, even if they 'don't really like books.' How are they going to learn to like books if they are never exposed to them?

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Excellent points all. But, still, the rudeness of this is pretty shocking. The hostess could easily have accepted it and then donated it to a library or passed it along to another child -- without Dashwood's ever knowing her gift didn't pass muster with precious (but possibly illiterate) Marco.

Even when we as parents try to model the best behavior for children and give gentle reminders about receiving presents graciously, we may still run into problems. But this mom's example is not one I'd want to set for my children.

Little kids are notorious for telling you exactly what they think of the gifts they receive as it is. Many times I've watched in horror as my kids would blurt out things like, "We already have this game!" or "Pants? Wait, is that all?"

As a mom, you're mortified, but fortunately, good-natured relatives -- especially ones who've been there -- tend to laugh it off. 

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Another part of this story that I can't quite get past is that the mom who gave back the gift had to know that Dashwood is a columnist. She basically served her up ideal fodder for a column (complete with gift wrap and a bow!). 

So, the big question remains: Did Dashwood dash off to the shops and get this child a gift he'd prefer? (And what might that even be if his tastes are so extreme that he's ruled out such a favorite pastime?) No, thankfully, she didn't! She writes: "I hid the book on the present table when she wasn't looking and left."

Oh, I love this mom! I hope the next time her son receives an invitation to Marco's party she simply says, "No, thank you." 

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