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MIL purchased plastic toy - Wrong on so many levels!

post #1 of 147
Thread Starter 
Hi Ladies,

I'm having a hard time. We had dinner at our home tonight for the Memorial Day weekend, and my MIL brought my son this:

Now, first of all, I really hate the gender-role implications - that only a "boy" would want something like a chainsaw. Why hasn't she purchased a chainsaw (or any other tool) for my girls - who are older and for whom a toy like this would be more "appropriate?" MY SON IS 6 MONTHS OLD!

Second of all, we don't do plastic OR batteries - MIL has been told this before and usually respects our wishes, so I have no idea where this came from.

Third of all, we try to be ecologically sensitive in this household, and a chainsaw is not exactly our idea of a "green" toy - not only because it's made of plastic but because it represents deforestation and the destruction of non-renewable resources and loss of animal habitat.

I am not sure what to do. Frankly, I am steamed. My husband says we should just return it or give it away - but I feel like something needs to be said. What's next? A toy barbeque? A toy gun? I am so sick of my parenting being undermined by people who are constantly trying to push mainstream toys and ideas on our family.

Guess I'm just feeling down - not sure what to do with this monstrosity Am I overreacting?

post #2 of 147
i think they were probably not at all interested in ndermining your parenting. your parenting ideas may not have even been on their radar. They probably thought it was fun or it may have been on clearance (it does seem kinda random for a six month old.....) who knows. And since it is your husbands parents I would let him handle this in the way he thinks is best. it is just a toy. not something worth starting a war over. Someone else would probably love to have it if you do not want it for your children.
post #3 of 147
Chainsaws can also be used for taking down dead trees, sustainably harvested trees, cut up fallen trees (or beaver felled trees) for firewood, etc. I think you might be over-reacting a little. We have quite a bit of land, and my brothers and father (and I) do a lot of chainsawing, and I know my son would love something like this (I try to avoid plastic and batteries too, so it wouldn't be me buying it).

It is annoying to not be taken seriously by your family members though. But our parents generation just doesn't get it. Why she would purchase that for a six month old, I don't know. That's a little weird.
post #4 of 147
I would probably just ask them to return it and buy something age appropriate.

Unless this happens frequently, and you have specifically told them no plastic toys, I highly doubt your MIL was trying to undermind your parenting.
post #5 of 147
Eh, in-laws are weird. I'm with your dh. Return it if you can and donate it if you can't. If MIL has already been told your wishes then at this point she's either going to respect them or do what she wants. So just do what you want with the gifts you feel are inappropriate.
post #6 of 147
In this case, I would just return it. If she asks, let her know that it was totally inappropriate for a 6 month old, so you got him --blahblahblah-- and how much he loves it.

If you weren't opposed to plastic, I would de-battery it and give it to the girls for pretend play of a construction shop/landscaping business (DD has seen dead trees taken down, and contractors at work, Could be a tool for good.) If questioned, I would say how DS was clearly not old enough for it yet!
post #7 of 147
Well, everyone knows that all babies should have their very own chainsaw! I mean, come on now!

Sorry to laugh, it's just such a random and odd gift for a 6 month old I can't help but be amused.

When my son was younger, I’d probably get all bent out of shape over a situation like this and confront the person who I felt was undermining me. Now, I just don’t sweat the small stuff. No sense in negativity over little things, and IMO this isn’t a hill to die on. The holidays are coming up; I’d just stash it away until you can donate it to some holiday gift program… or something.
post #8 of 147
Pretty weird gift for a 6-month old, but I wouldn't personally be freaking about the gender aspect of it. Doesn't sound like you'd want your girls to have it either. I'm with the other poster -- if you live in the country, you need a chainsaw. We've got a bunch of land up north and you have to maintain a fire-safety zone around your house, and big storms knock trees down across the road that no one else is going to take care of.
post #9 of 147
i think you are overreacting just a little. i understand your concerns completely as i have the same issue with my IL's.. we just say thank you for the gift and move on. not everyone is going to agree with our philosophy on raising kids and we accept that. now if you said your MIL was feeding your child crappy stuff behind your back or practicing discipline methods you do not agree with, i'd say there is a problem! a toy can be returned, donated, sold... try to not worry too much about it.
post #10 of 147
Maybe they were trying. I know in our Target the power-tools are in the virtue-toy aisle. My inlaws have a really hard time with natural toys. They really don't know where to get them or how to pick them out. If you really hate it could you re-gift it?

On the other hand, we are anarchist, environmentalist gender bending types and our sons have a toy chainsaw. DS1 uses it to cut fallen branches, houses, bushes, ghosts, trains, etc. We talk about why we don't have a real one - they pollute - and try to balance it out with less masculine toys. We asked the in-laws for a wooden kitchen, in fact, which they happily gave him....along with a tool set.

Gender is so ridgedly enforced in our culture right now, especially for boys, that its quite radical to question power-tools for boys. I'd give anyone a break who didn;t get it right away. 6 months is strange, but maybe they are just really excited about boy toys.
post #11 of 147
I think I would press the issue based on the fact that the toy is not age appropriate, rather than the gender issue.

IMO, toy tools, power or otherwise are gender neutral. All children, male or female, can benefit from learning how to properly use tools.
post #12 of 147
Originally Posted by zinemama
Eh, in-laws are weird.
Not to be rude, but I find this whole "in law" thing annoying. That child doesn't just belong to his mother. He is also his father's, in which case it isn't an "in law" issue at all. So please don't blame it on the in-laws...kiddo is their grandchild JUST AS MUCH as he is the OP's parents' grandchild.

Maybe instead, "Grandparents can be annoying?"

As for the OP - I agree. It's not a big deal. It's a weird toy for a 6 month old, but honestly? It's a GIFT. Take it or leave it. You can't control what they want to buy, you just can't. There are lots of things I personally never wanted as gifts either, and not just for my kids but for myself, and I finally realized that I can't control what other people want to gift to me. Now, if you know for a fact they did it to push your buttons, that's one thing. But more likely? They just liked the toy.
post #13 of 147
I hope this doesn't come across as morbid, but I wish someone had pointed this out to me when my kids were babies...

My MIL totally ignored my requests for wooden, creative, beautiful toys or experiences for our kids. she sent plastic, commercialized junk that the kids LOVED but then forgot about fairly quickly. I fretted every holiday, every time she visited with gifts (she lived far away) and every time she spoiled the heck out of my kids with her inconsiderate (towards me and my wishes) generosity (towards them) it drove me a little bit crazy.

My parents, on the other hand, quickly caught on that they had to be pretty careful in navigating my rules about gifts, so as not to annoy me. they started sending cash (or nothing at all, that happened a few times) and the whole gift-giving thing was kind of awkward with them. now they always only send cash, which is very practical, and the kids (8 and 10) are into it, but it isn't exactly thoughtful or memory-inducing...

MIL passed away a little over a year ago, and my children treasure every barbie, every spiderman, every little piece of plastic junk she ever gave them, because she gave it with so much love and affection -- she gave them things that she knew would light up their little faces, and as their grandma she had every right to do that. she fed them M&M's and root beer for snacks when we visited, and introduced my plain yogurt eating child to the glory of pink yogurt!!! she didn't get to see them very often, and I wish I had stayed out of it when she seized the opportunity to spoil them rotten!!

I don't know if you're blessed with an in-law as loving as my MIL was, but I miss her dearly, and would give anything for the kids to get to experience one more of her commercial crap shopping sprees -- yes, she was harming the environment, yes she was using commercialized crap to get closer to her grandkids, but it was really quite beautiful, once I was able to step back and remove my baggage from the equation.

just my .02...
post #14 of 147
OK, if it were me, I'd take the batteries out and give it to my girls to play with!

As for the values represented by the toy: It's a tool. Like all tools, it can be used in ways that are sustainable or ways that are not. Arborists use them and they are helping keep trees disease free. You can harvest trees sustainably or you can clear cut forests. The tool doesn't change what the people wielding it decide to do.

I don't think it's a bad idea for your kids to understand where wood comes from. If your kids play with wood toys, that wood came from a tree. If you live in a house in the US, have wood furniture, wood toys or use paper of any sort, you use wood. Maybe I'm biased because of where we live (major timber industry here), but I want my kids to understand where wood/paper comes from so we can talk about why it's important to reuse and recycle paper.

OK end of digression. I get that it's gendered. That it's plastic. That it's battery powered. That it's not something you want your kids to play. But, it was most likely given from the heart. If you hate it, smile sweetly, say thank you and give it away at the first opportunity. If you take every gift your MIL gives as undermining your parenting, it's going to be a long parenting journey. My MIL buys cheap junk too. It has nothing to do with me or my values. She buys it because 'it was a good deal'. I smile sweetly and put it in the pile of things to donate to the next rummage sale at church.
post #15 of 147
Originally Posted by KweenKrunch View Post
Hi Ladies,
Am I overreacting?
Yes, you are overreacting.
post #16 of 147
I think criticising a gift is rude unless it's deliberately offensive. Given that your MIL usually respects your no-plastic rule, she probably wasn't trying to undermine you with this toy - maybe she forgot, or maybe she figured it was so utterly awesome that an exception could be made. Yes, it was a bad choice of gift for a 6-month-old (not least because toys that involve noise are generally a faux pas!): but I think you're overanalysing the evil that chainsaws represent, and maybe even the gender thing. I think it wold be churlish and ungrateful to complain about it: it was a gift, and it was presumably given with love. Clueless love, but still. And y'know, a toy BBQ actually sounds kind of fun.

My vote is "thank her politely, donate the toy and, if you can do it tactfully, reiterate your love for eco-friendly natural toys in front of MIL close to next celebration's shopping season".

ETA: Also, a useful habit I've developed is not expecting anything from gifts. We got a lot of, well, junk when we got married and when DD was born (probably the two most gift-infested occasions our lives will ever know!). Nasty MIC fall-apart-after-one-wash baby clothes, truly ugly day-glo cheap stuffed toys, tinny spatulas, that sort of stuff. So by necessity I adjusted my mentality from "Ooh, hopefully someone will give us X things we need" to consciously not relying on gifts for necessities, being prepared to ruthlessly donate unwanted items, and just accepting the love. You know? And it really helps. Now if I need a tartlet tin and I get a tartlet tin for Christmas, it's a bonus: but if I need a tartlet tin and get a wreath made out of candy bars I dislike, I'm mentally fortified, thank the giver, give the candy bars to someone who likes them and go out and buy myself a tartlet tin. It's surprisingly freeing, and makes the actually nice, tasteful, useful, things-I-want-and-like presents all the more pleasing.
post #17 of 147
Just say thank you and return it for something else. This does not warrant a confrontation.
post #18 of 147
post #19 of 147
I think you are overreacting.

I would give it to my daughter since she is old enough to play with it.

Chain saws are tools: just like shovels, hammers, et. You grow to appriacate having one when you electric line is taken down by a tree. Or lighting hits the tree in your back yard. Foresters, firefighters, electric companies use chain saws for many reasons.

Playful parenting would teach an age appropraite child proper reasons to cut trees down and replanting trees.

Would you throw out a shot from a doctors kit because it represents mass vaccinations? How about the entire medical kit because it represents abuses?

Most pretend kitchen stuff is not gender nutural. Or dolls or so many other things are you denying your daughters these also?
post #20 of 147
You are overreacting.

And you are exaggerating the gender issue/destruction aspect of the chainsaw.

If you don't want it at home, it could live at grandma's house.

I'd also like to point out that if you take the batteries out of plastic toys they become much more open-ended.
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