Tell Step Mother, or Just Accept Gift for Son?

Updated on March 27, 2010
J.P. asks from Meridian, ID
18 answers

My dad and stepmother live out of state, and really don't know my son. They haven't seen him since October of 08. So, for his 2 year birthday in about 4 weeks, I asked if anyone wanted a list of the types of things he was interested in (all my family lives out of state, and I know how helpful it is when my sister lets me know what my niece was interested in). My step mother said she would love a list. I gave her about 10 ideas, and said that we didn't have much in the way of outdoor toys, except for a playhouse that we just bought at Costco for him.

Guess what she bought him? A playhouse!!! She just sent me an email saying how excited they are about this, and how she thinks it is perfect for what we are looking for. It is the Little Tikes Town Center. It is a bit more than just a playhouse and has few other things.

My question is, do I tell her, "Hello, we said we already got him one, please cancel your order and send something else."? Do we accept the gift and then return it (there may be a large shipping fee)? I'm not even sure if this is something that will fit inside the house if we did decide to keep it, as having two playhouses outside doesn't make sense to me.

I'm really not trying to sound ungrateful...really. But this seems to be a pattern with her. She asks what is wanted, demands lists most of the time, and then buys whatever she wants, whether we have it already or not. My husband thinks I should tell her to cancel the order, but I already have a strained relationship with her and my dad, so I am hesitant to go that route.

Has anyone been in this situation before and have some advice for me? Or have any experience with the Little Tikes Town Center, that could tell me if it would fit in the house? The one we bought is a large wooden structure that WON'T work in the house.

Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Thank you ladies! You were so quick with your responses, and I really needed to be quick with mine, so luckily the first few supported my husband, so that is what won. :)

I did also look online for the dimensions, and opened up, it is 10 feet long! Way to big for inside (unfortunately no basement). It does look pretty cool though (I did suggest an INDOOR play kitchen for him, so maybe that is what she was aiming for). Anyway, I had my husband draft out a letter, as he is much better at writing and not letting his emotions get the better of him. With that basis, I was able to make it MY letter, and respond to her kindly. I thanked her profusely, apologized if my list wasn't clear that we had already bought the playhouse, and asked if there was any way to cancel. If not, I'm sure my son won't object to two of them, but that I wanted to give her the option. To be honest, I wouldn't really object to two either, as it is pretty cool, but as some of the other suggestions have said, I may be able to return it to a big box store and get him a sandbox or picnic table to give him more variety.

I don't know how she will respond, and of course, can't control that (and yes, she does get offended with honesty), but I have given her the option of how she wants to handle it, and tried to be as appreciative as possible, so I will just have to wait and see.

Thank you to everyone for your responses. I love this site.

More Answers



answers from Raleigh on

what????keep it girl..... this is a totally different toy than a wooden much fun for a 2 year old with all the noises, buttons, doors.....he will love it!!!!!!!! I also do not know many grandparents who spend that much $$$$$ on a 2 year olds b-day. Amazing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bellingham on

Hee. My answer is different. Your dad and step mom live out of state and haven't seen your child in two years.
Accept the playhouse, gush with thanks because it is a generous gift and try to return it at Walmart or where ever she purchased it from - take it to a consignment shop, sell it, etc.
She doesn't want a big hassle, I am sure. And she is trying probably to buy away guilt she probably feels for going soooo long without visiting or your strained relationship or whatever.
You don't want to seem ungrateful here. So I say accept it and deal with it once it arrives. Don't let your son see it until you've decided for him whether you're keeping it or not.
And OBVIOUSLY, buy him other gifts with the money you get from returning it or selling it if that's the way you decide to go.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I think you can very tactfully approach the situation and ask her to cancel the order.

If you call (she obviously wants to do something really nice for your family) and say you think there may have been some miscommunication and that he already has a play house, you appreciate their generosity and want to see if you can stop the shipment before the costs are incurred.

She'll likely have no problem and will appreciate the honesty. What could happen if you don't tell her and return it on your own is that they'll make a trip out to see you and wonder where theirs is - which may be more unintentionally hurtful and troublesome.

We have the wooden playhouse from Costco, too, and LOVE it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Did you send your list by email? Could she have gotten confused? If you think that is possible call her. It sounds like she wants to give you something that your son will like.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

I agree with Barbilee, be honest and tell her. She's going to continue to do things like this if you don't address it. Do it tactfully, tell her how generous and thoughtful the playhouse gift is, then gently remind her that you already have a playhouse for outside. Maybe suggest that she get some toys that your son can use with the playhouse he already has instead. Be gentle, yet firm. If she wants to take it personally and stick her nose in the air, then that's on her. She should have listened to you in the first place ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

i would just accept it. though i see now my reply is late in the game. you are lucky she went all the way and got something that big (read: pricey)for your son especially since the relationship is not in best terms.
i mean, you could always store it and open it when your son gets tired of the playhouse you got him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

maybe in the future tell her you already have something that you don't have, but really want. Surely she'll get it for you and you won't have to buy it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would keep it. Its a totally different toy from the Costco playhouse.

If you have a HUGE basement, it will fit inside.

When I have a party coming up I create a Target Wish List that when asked I tell people about. That way they can see sizes, likes, etc.

If you do decide to return it, if she bought it at say Toys R Us, you should be able to return it to the store without problem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

It just sounds like what she heard is you "need outdoor equipment . . . playhouse".

If this is really exciting for her then absolutely DO NOT refuse the gift. What a slap in the face that would be. No matter who gives you any kind of "lame" gift, even family, always accept it graciously and then do what you want to afterward.

If the playhouse is Little Tykes, she probably bought it at Toys R Us or another big box store and you can return it to the store even if she bought it online. You can tell where she bought it by the shipping information. If it's Amazon or whatever, just send it back, eat the shipping and buy something you can use for outside. Shipping usually isnt THAT much and you can still buy some nice things for the kids.

Be sure to thank her profusely for her generosity towards your kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Could you tell her Oops! I think you misunderstood my email! I said we ALREADY bought him a play house. You must have thought that was one of the suggestions! Then say that it really sounds neat, but you don't think there's room for it. And then leave it. Then it's up to her to cancel the order or whatever she decides. Do you know where she got it from? You may be able to return it to the brick and mortar store, even if she bought it online.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Tell her...tell her....tell her...
Honesty is ALWAYS the right way to go.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Casper on

If it truly bothers you then I would talk to her about it. I would tell her that you have something you would like to discuss with her when she is ready and has time. If she wants to talk about it then she will, and if not then let it go.
In my opinion gifts are not something worth fighting about. Always gratuitously accept them. It makes people that love you feel they are loved in return. Having a gratitude attitude is always in style and good for your son to witness. And if nothing else he can always use it for a while and then you can have a garage sale or sell it in the paper, you are out nothing at all!:) Same with any gift, enjoy it and them move it on to someone else who needs it or loves it, or just for fun.
It is nice to get practical gifts that are needed. But a gift is just that, a thing that you wouldn't have if it were not gifted. I would let your babe enjoy it. In or out side, it will be like a playground, more then one play structure makes it even more fun!
Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

This is not that difficult- I have had this happen before with estranged g-parents or in-laws.. at least the strangers are out of state!! Your son is only 2- think future... if you dont' stop this now and let your voice be heard- at 15 they will be doing the same thing with your child and many more children you may have.
I believe in standing your ground. I believe that if you dont' approve of something for yourself or your family- you should say something. If you dont' say anything now or later, it is the same as saying, "its okay" in whatever situation you find yourself.
Don't think that you will lose thier relationship with you or your family- there is not one there if they have nothing to start with. Your are worrying about nothing- let your family know you already have one- dont' worry about how this will make you feel or sound, this is your child- he does not have the voice to speak for himself and that is why you have to take action. Good luck I am sure you will do just fine. THINK - FUTURE!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I am sure your step-mom only heard "we don't have anything outdoors" and she searched for something that would be really neat for your son for outdoors. My mother-in-law does stuff like that all the time. If we mention anything, even if we plan to get it, she gets it before we can even discuss it. We don't want to ruin the relationship that our children have with her and we don't want her to stop thinking of the kids, so we ignore it. Let her get what she wants, and if it is neat then keep it. Look online at the ratings and see what other people have said about the play system. Maybe you will want to take yours back and get a swing set instead, maybe you would want both and set up a little town make up a little system where he can imagine living in his own town and turn it into something fun that he can play with for hours. My kids have a swingset, a fort and a playhouse. They have so much fun. So in all of this my suggestion is to leave it alone and allow your step-mom to spoil your son as much as she wants, after all she isn't step-grandma to him, she is grandma.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Sometimes moms/stepmoms just don't hear what we say. It's not out of lack of love or respect. They're just grandmas and excited to get the PERFECT gift. She ovbiously heard you would like for him to have a playhouse, not that he already has one.

Call your stepmom and tell her how much you appreciate the gift and know your son would love it but you already have one. Tell her there must have been a mixup with communication. Be honest with your dilema and see what she wants to do. If it's already been sent she may be fine with you exchanging/returning it I'm sure she got it at a big chain store that you too have.

Honesty is the best policy. I'm sure she won't be upset at you. Now if you say nothing and they happen to come for a visit and the playhouse is missing... well then you'll have a mess!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I think you have to tell her to cancel the order, whether it's unpleasant or not. Seriously, what are you going to do with two playhouses? It's not like an extra truck or something that you could give to someone else. And returning it will likely be quite difficult once you have it (although if it's too late to cancel you can refuse delivery and have it sent back to the shipper at no charge to you).

Obviously it's all about HOW you go about it, so I'd start with Thank you, that's such a generous and thoughtful gift, but I'm sorry, we already have a playhouse. And then reiterate some of your other suggestions for outside toys.

My inlaws are often times clueless and do stuff like this. Get things that are kind-of like what my son wants, or just completely random inappropriate stuff -- after asking for suggestions. Who knows what's going on in their heads, but hopefully their intentions are to do something nice for your son and they'll be able to find another way to do that. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I would just call her and say, "Oh my gosh, I'm afraid you misread my message about what he needs. I hate to mention this, but it was the playhouse that we already bought and not the outdoor toys. The one you bought sounds fantastic but I'm not sure he would need two playhouses. Do you think there's any way to exchange it for something else?"

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ha, miscommunication, bless her heart. I bet she is like me and read it as you "wanted to give your son a playhouse", not "that you had given him a playhouse"..... I do this all of the time and then go back and realize I have turned into an old woman who cannot read!!!!

I am getting payback for all the times, I thought my own mom was loosing her mind when she would confuse things..

Just call her and see if she can stop shipment.. do think about what he would need to take its place..

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