Leave The Parenting To Your Coworkers

, , , , , | Friendly | September 19, 2018

(I am in my mid-twenties, working at a bookstore with another woman who is a few years older and has five kids. We become friends. She invites me and a few other coworkers to her son’s third birthday party. I don’t have any children of my own, but I have a lot of little cousins, and I love buying them presents, so I buy some fun toys and get extra batteries. I wrap everything up and go to the party and have a nice time. When it’s time for the gifts, all the kids help their little brother tear into them, and they’re all books, except for mine. The kids all go nuts, ripping apart the boxes, putting in the batteries and pushing all the buttons that make the toys move, beep, light up, etc. I’m really glad they’re having such a good time with the things I picked out, but when I go to leave, my coworker takes me aside, frowning a bit.)

Coworker: “I guess I forgot to tell you; we only wanted [Son] to get books this year for his birthday.”

Me: “Oh, no, you didn’t tell me that.”

Coworker: “Well, it’s not that I don’t appreciate your gifts, but I really didn’t want them to have toys like that. They’ll fight over them.”

Me: *at a loss* “Oh, well, I’m sorry? I’m sure they’ll get tired of them in a few days; you know how kids are.”

Coworker: “Yes, but I wanted him to just get books.”

Me: *a little irritated now* “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. You didn’t tell me not to buy toys, so I assumed that toys would be an acceptable gift for a three-year-old.”

Coworker: “You need to tell them they can’t have them and take them away.”

Me: “Excuse me? You want me to take away the toys I gave a three-year-old boy for his birthday?”

Coworker: “Yes.”

Me: “Forget it. No way.”

Coworker: “They’re going to fight over them!”

Me: “And if I take them away, they’re going to cry! I’m not making a bunch of little kids cry because you failed to tell me you didn’t want me to buy toys!”

Coworker: “You work at a bookstore! I just assumed you knew.”

Me: “Well, I didn’t. Since you also work in a bookstore, I figured your kids probably had plenty of books. If you’d told me, I would have bought books. If you don’t want them to have the toys, you can take them away.”

(I left, furious and feeling bad for those poor little kids. The next time she needed a ride home from work — she lived over forty minutes away from where I did, but I used to give her rides all the time to help her out, since I knew all about her financial difficulties — I told her I couldn’t, and we barely spoke again until I quit a few months later.)

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