Thoughtful Thursday: Belong

August 9, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayYears ago, I gave a present to a friend when her first baby was born: a gift certificate to Nordstrom. I told her that she was welcome to use it for herself instead of the baby, since there are lots of nice things adults would enjoy from the store whereas babies don’t know the difference between a $3 t-shirt and a $40 t-shirt. She replied, “Oh no, I would never take something that belongs to the baby!”

Yeah, so I totally don’t subscribe to the same philosophy. Case in point:

These cupcakes came with the twins’ meals when we went out to dinner tonight. Their dinners were more than ample: main courses, 4 kinds of vegetables, 2 kinds of fruit, and milk. When they were done eating, they both still had some food left, but their tummies were full. They didn’t know that their meals came with cupcakes. They are rarely allowed to eat sweets, and they don’t even really like cupcakes. So, I asked the waiter to box them up. And then, after Burrito and Tamale went to bed, DH and I ate these cupcakes. Burrito and Tamale will never know about their missing cupcakes, until a couple of decades from now when they read this blog (Hi, kids — I mean, hi, adults! Next round of cupcakes are on me!).

If we had limited resources, I would never take something from the children. But, we as a family have access to an almost infinite supply of cupcakes. My children get everything they need — much more, really — and so if I were to do something like use an upscale gift certificate that had their names on it for my own purchase, plenty of other gifts would be headed their way and they would still come out far ahead. If we were not so fortunate, though, if there were not enough disposable income or cupcakes or even basic necessities to go around, then everything would go to them first. But thankfully that’s not the case, and these cupcakes can go to me.

If they wouldn’t miss it, would you take something that “belongs” to a little kid?

11 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Belong”

  1. St. Elsewhere Says:

    In principle, I wouldn’t use what belongs to my daughter. If she wouldn’t mind, I would like to keep whatever chocolates she gets.

    I took currency (very small denomination coins, no longer in circulation) from a 9 year old last year. She had no use of it, and I have been collecting them and saving them for a reason. And I asked her, and her grandma before I took it.

  2. Mina Says:

    Yes, I would, if they didn’t miss it. Usually, it goes to waste, if they are full (the cupcake case), or it does not make much sense (why pay 20 euros for a babygro that the baby uses three times and then it’s too small?). I am all for my children having the best, but we also have to use common sense here. That’s how I see it.

  3. Aryanhwy Says:

    I don’t really see how the cupcakes in this instance “belonged” to the kids. They don’t *own* food; you do, you bought it, you prepared it (ok, maybe not at the restaurant, but you arranged for it to be made available to them), and it’s not like food is a gift that you give them and expect them to savor or hang on to or otherwise treat as they would gifts. So I don’t really see this as an instance of taking something that belonged to a child.

    There is little that Gwen has that I would want to take from her simply because I can’t wear her clothes and don’t really have a desire to play with her toys. However, she’s been given monetary gifts from relatives (and from Joel and I), and this is definitely *hers* and I won’t touch it (hopefully not even in extreme circumstances, though I hope we’ll never be in a position to find out). To ensure this, a few months after she was born I opened a bank account for her, and now every check she receives goes straight into it.

  4. a Says:

    I have a hard time with this. Not with cupcakes, but with other things. (Although, sometimes even with cupcakes – we went to a parade recently, and my girl got a package of Swedish Fish, along with a bag full of other candy. I was going to eat it, since I love those things, but then decided that I couldn’t because they were rightfully hers. Even though she doesn’t get to eat too much candy and she has a huge bowl full of candy.) For the longest time, I kept track of all the cash gifts and return credits (we didn’t keep a lot of stuff that people bought for her because it wouldn’t have been useful) for my daughter. Then, I ended up using her return credits for a new winter coat for myself, because my husband decided that it was foolish to worry about it when we were spending plenty of money on her elsewhere. Now that she’s older and wants to buy things, I tell her that she has to pay me for them…but she never does. She has her own money, and she wants to spend it, but she’s actually opposed to letting go of it. When she gets a little older, she’ll have to start bringing her money along with her.

    As the youngest of 4, I think it has to do with territorial issues and rarely having anything that was purely my own. Everything was either a hand-me-down or was shared. So I get all prickly when my husband treats everything like it’s his. He is the oldest of 6, so he thinks that everything is fair game.

  5. Without regret or remorse!

    I can’t think of a time I’ve done so, which probably means it happens regularly.

    Those cupcakes look DELICIOUS!

  6. Elana Kahn Says:

    I try not to take things I know are theirs, but in the case of a dessert they aren’t going to notice is missing, I would for sure eat it. 🙂 But if someone gave me a check that was for one of the kids (even if made out to me), I would make sure the money got into their bank accounts even though they have no idea of the existence of the check (or their accounts).

  7. Cat Says:

    I don’t have a yes or no answer to this. If it were a gift certificate, I would use it for the kids but buy something just because it was cute or funny and not necessarily useful or practical, which is how I usually spend *our* money. I would have totally eaten the cupcakes. There’s a fast food place around here that we only go to when we’re driving to or from the in-laws’ house. We buy two meals for the three of them to share since they don’t finish it all anyway. Each meal comes with a free scoop of frozen custard that DH and I always eat ourselves.

    But then there’s all the candy and tchotchkes the kids get from their grandparents in their Christmas stockings and Easter baskets. Besides the fact that it bothers me that we’re not the only ones who give them stockings and Easter baskets because WE’RE the parents, they don’t really need any of that crap. There’s tons of candy and dollar store things that will just break or be fought over. I wish they’d take the $5 they spend and put it in the kids’ savings accounts instead. Yet I feel enormous guilt about DH even taking the candy to work to get rid of it. So it sits in the cupboard and takes forever to be eaten when the kids only occasionally get a piece at a time. We still have Christmas candy from 7+ months ago.

  8. strongblonde Says:

    this is a subject that touches me. my kneejerk response is NO WAY! i think that this stems from B’s experience. In college, he didn’t have any money and was barely eating. I used to “go shopping” for him in my parents’ pantry (when I lived at home and he lived at school) in order to make sure that he had food to eat. He didn’t have money because his mother (who insisted on a shared checking account with him) had emptied his account. I know that he was upset about it, but he felt obligated to let her have it without ever mentioning it “because they must have needed the money”. It angers me b/c she’s the type of person who would take that money to provide herself with luxeries (manicures, indoor tanning, etc) without regard for her son and his basic life needs (like food). It is because of this, I think, that we both feel strongly that the money that we have set aside for the kids’ school will stay untouched–regardless of what happens to us. As of right now we have decided that we will never take that from them.

    on the other hand-little things like food (from christmas stockings, gifts, etc) or things that are not age appropriate, we will take from them. often, if possible, we’ll give them to another kid or donate them.

    and i totally agree, kids don’t know the difference between a 4 and 40 dollar item of clothing, but (in my opinion) they pick up on that pretty quickly. i remember being struck (before i had kids) by a friend’s children who mentioned name brands in every sentence (“have you seen my gap slippers?” “those are my favorite guess jeans” etc). serisouly. and those kids were under 5. that just seems crazy to me.

    as of right now, my kids are happy with anything that is new to them, even if it is already well-loved. maybe that’s another thoughful thursday? (or maybe we’ve done that one…i can’t remember): what things are okay to have used and what should you get new? 😉

  9. ana Says:

    absolutely i would. without a second thought. However, this may change as the kids grow up. Right now, they get a LOT of stuff that we don’t think they should have–and as parents we definitely do get to make this decision. So we trash it/eat it/give it away. A waiter came up to B and tried to hand him a box of lucky charms at the hotel last weekend. I grabbed it and hid it & then gave it back before he could see. I don’t want him eating that stuff. His daycare sends home cheap-y toys and candy for holidays. In the trash it goes (unless its chocolate, we stash that up high for us). We also got a lot of money & gift cards. I didn’t specifically set that aside to buy stuff for them. We have bought well above and beyond the worth of those gifts for them…so I used the Barnes & Noble card to buy myself a couple of books with not a hint of remorse.

  10. hahaha! i’m old school. any food items that come into the house for my daughter are equal opportunity. I’m not even sure she’s aware that she’s actually supposed to eat her own Halloween candy. Strangely enough, she’s yet to receive any money. Hopefully by the time she does, she’ll have a bank account to put it in and it won’t be an issue.

  11. I think it’s fine when it comes to cake/sweets, and annoying toys (mostly with undesirable sound effects) etc. The hard part however is that my son almost always knows that it’s for him. If he were out for dinner with you he would have known the cupcake came with his meal. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s just that quick.

    Having said that, I did mention to make the awful toy guitar his sitter gave him for Christmas disappear and he luckily has forgotten about it. 😉

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