to think it is strange to change someone's present?

(93 Posts)
JaneFonda Tue 05-Feb-13 18:36:27

I'll try to keep this as simple as possible, without giving away too many details.

For Christmas, MIL and FIL suggested getting something quite expensive for DS1's Christmas present. He would have absolutely loved it, and would have had many years of use out of it. Because it was quite expensive, me and DP offered to pay some of it, but instead they suggested having it as a joint birthday/Christmas present. I thought this was a great idea, then it was 100% from them IYSWIM, and the price was then okay for a birthday and Christmas present combined.

The present wasn't to arrive until around January/February time, but DS was absolutely fine with that, as he knew it was worth waiting for.

However, this evening, they phoned us up to say that they had got DS a violin for the present instead. Which, while lovely, is not something that DS has shown interest in, or said he wanted as a present.

I am genuinely prepared to accept IABU, by the way, I don't want to seem ungrateful but I am a little upset for DS. I know that finances aren't a problem for them (we would have happily paid towards it anyway), so AIBU to think that this is strange of them?

manicbmc Tue 05-Feb-13 18:39:27

Why a violin? And what was the original present?

ChiefOwl Tue 05-Feb-13 18:41:06

Er yes, v.odd what was the original present and how old is ds?

Also are they planning on paying for his lessons as imagine that will be expensive!!

ENormaSnob Tue 05-Feb-13 18:41:09


Juanca Tue 05-Feb-13 18:41:42

Seems strange to get him a violin unless he had expressed an interest in one! Maybe they've regifted it? grin

CrapBag Tue 05-Feb-13 18:42:43


How odd.

SpicyPear Tue 05-Feb-13 18:42:59

YANBU. How odd.

SpicyPear Tue 05-Feb-13 18:44:01

Great minds CrapBag. Except yours even has paragraphs.

Crikeyblimey Tue 05-Feb-13 18:45:40

What a bizarre thing to buy someone who doesn't already play / have an interest in.

What was the original gift? Was it an instrument?

DameFanny Tue 05-Feb-13 18:45:54

Does he even play the violin? Or do they really, really hate you? grin

JaneFonda Tue 05-Feb-13 18:47:25

DS is 8.

Oh, sorry, I am an idiot, I completely forgot to say what the original present was going to be! It was going to be tennis club membership for the club DS goes to.

He has never expressed an interest in the violin, or actually music of any type - he is a very sporty boy!

Perhaps this is their way of encouraging his musical side? I have no idea.

Cherriesarelovely Tue 05-Feb-13 18:47:31

I think that is vu of them. You don't promise a child an exciting gift, make them wait several months for it and then give them something completely differentthat they don't want! Having said that it is a difficult thing to broach.

Cherriesarelovely Tue 05-Feb-13 18:48:48

Well in that case Jane it is really strange and unfair.

ginmakesitallok Tue 05-Feb-13 18:49:31

YANBU - why on earth did they get him a violin? Did they get him the lessons to go with it?

DameFanny Tue 05-Feb-13 18:49:57

Violin lessons would be a constant drain on your finances, and the noise he will make forthe first year or so will approximate a randy, constipated cat.

So, do your ILs like you do you know?!

JaneFonda Tue 05-Feb-13 18:50:06

DP thinks they got it free from someone, because they were talking about getting it valued.

That doesn't matter to me - I don't care if it was free or a thousand pounds, I think the idea of a present is that it is something you know the other person will like and enjoy. This is neither of those things!

I feel really disappointed for DS, bless his heart - when he heard he was getting a violin instead, he spoke to them on the phone and said thank you very much etc., but later when he was tucked up in bed he did say, "So does this mean I can't play tennis anymore?"

Narked Tue 05-Feb-13 18:51:27

How odd. Are they going to pay for lessons?

SpicyPear Tue 05-Feb-13 18:53:12

I was just wondering of they'd somehow been given it. The more I think about it the more upset I am for him. Are they normally mean?

Juanca Tue 05-Feb-13 18:53:24

Sell it and buy tennis club membership for a year.

Narked Tue 05-Feb-13 18:53:46

He knew what he was supposed to be getting? sad That's harsh.

Is there any chance they've had a change in financial circumstances? An unexpected bill that means they can't afford the membership and a moment of madness and a friend with a child's violin they were going to get rid of?

NatashaBee Tue 05-Feb-13 18:54:02

I don't really agree with presents where the parent will need to pay for lessons, or an ongoing cost - eg a mobile phone when someone will need to be responsible for the bill, or an instrument where lessons are required. I would just tell them that you don't want a lovely violin to go unplayed, and can they please return it. At least your DS remembered his manners and said thankyou.

JaneFonda Tue 05-Feb-13 18:54:28

There was no mention of paying for lessons.

I don't want to dripfeed (especially because it's not really relevant to this thread), but we have had big problems in the past with them, but I never thought they would 'take it out' on the DCs.

nefertarii Tue 05-Feb-13 18:55:31

What did they say when your dh said 'thank you that's lovely, but can I ask about the tennis subscription as as was really looking forward to it?'

Or similar?

GreyTS Tue 05-Feb-13 18:55:56

That is incredibly mean, I would be seriously pissed off if that was my child. I have no idea though how you are going to approach it with them, seriously awkward and probably best sorted by your DH. YANBU

Hissy Tue 05-Feb-13 18:56:23

That's just byond bizarre.

Could you have it valued and sell it for the Tennis Club membership?

Uppermid Tue 05-Feb-13 18:57:19

I would tell them that whilst its a lovely idea, he has no interest in playing the violin so it would be a complete waste. Ask them what's happened to the club membership that was previously agreed on.

JaneFonda Tue 05-Feb-13 18:57:19

Well we did try to broach the subject gently - it's so difficult when it comes to gifts - but they essentially just went on about how valuable the violin is.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 05-Feb-13 18:58:06


Telling a child that you are going to give them something special that they really want and then changing it to something they have no interest in is just plain mean.

Uppermid Tue 05-Feb-13 18:58:25

Why be gentle. You had an agreement, they've now decided to get something completely unsuitable.

WhichIsBest Tue 05-Feb-13 18:58:28

Sell the violin!

Narked Tue 05-Feb-13 18:58:39

Hmm. Tricky. I think I'd get it valued (three quotes/offers) ostensibly for insurance reasons and then decide how to handle it based on that. If it's something that's comparable price wise to the membership it might be a moment of madness on their parts.

Crikeyblimey Tue 05-Feb-13 18:59:37

Yep - I agree. Sell it to fund the tennis. Poor lad. How awful for him sad

ReluctantMother Tue 05-Feb-13 18:59:46

Sell it and put the cash towards the membership.

JustinMumsnot Tue 05-Feb-13 19:00:17

Easy-peasy, take the violin, sell it and use the proceeds to pay for tennis club membership.
And if they never speak to you again, that'll be a bonus present. grin

JustinMumsnot Tue 05-Feb-13 19:00:53

Cross-posted with loads! Great minds think alike, OP. Just do it!

jennybeadle Tue 05-Feb-13 19:02:05

That is just odd!

JaneFonda Tue 05-Feb-13 19:02:13

grin Thank you all for your advice.

I was preparing to told IABU and ungrateful, but I am glad to know that it is something weird on their part.

Whatever happens, DS will still be able to play tennis, even if the ILs don't pay for it.

SpicyPear Tue 05-Feb-13 19:02:45

It is relevant, because now they have done this you know that you have to take steps to protect your DCs from this type of thing.

CrapBag Tue 05-Feb-13 19:03:04

Yep I would sell it and if they queried it, tell them that as they thought it was valuable, then you assumed this was their intentions for it, to sell and fund the tennis that they had originally promised.

I feel sorry for your DS, but well done him for still saying thank you!

SENworry Tue 05-Feb-13 19:05:15

Bizzare! It is a very tiny violin?

ChristmasJubilee Tue 05-Feb-13 19:11:41

Is it even the right size violin for him? Sell it!

TeamEdward Tue 05-Feb-13 19:16:37

They must really hate you. grin

That's what I would think if someone gave my 8yo DS a violin!

Booyhoo Tue 05-Feb-13 19:23:54

do you think they would be selfish enough to want to get him something different that has the potential to be his new great talent that they could claim the credit for? is tennis something that you and DH got him interested in and they feel they would like to get him something he could be good at that they initiated IYSWIM?

my mum can be a bit odd like this. for ds's birthday last year (in july) he had wanted a flickr for ages and i was getting him one, then my mum started saying how she had heard they were really bad for children's hips and how she had heard stories about children being hurt on them. so i had a rethink and got him something else. dmum got him something else and no more mention was made of it until xmas and what had she gotten him? a flickr! and it definitely wasn't that she had always planned to get one for him because she would have told me (as has happened in the past) and she knows i wouldn't have minded getting him something else so she could give him the flicker as what he wants is what matters to me, not who gives it to him. i think she just wanted the credit for getting him the flickr.

ginmakesitallok Tue 05-Feb-13 19:26:57

I'd sell it. What's the point of giving an expensive instrument to a child who doesn't play?? It's a really difficult instrument to learn (for player and those who have to listen to it!)

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Tue 05-Feb-13 19:31:06

They are BU. they have let you down on purpose. I hate when people do these petty controlly things,either buy a surprise or ask and stick to it, but to ask, agree, then get something different is deliberately annoying.

I would ask your DH to tell them you don't want a violin thanks.

theoriginalandbestrookie Tue 05-Feb-13 19:31:31

I would get your DH to phone/email them and tell them what your DS said
- "So does this mean I can't play tennis anymore?"
If that doesn't melt their hearts then they are selfish so and sos.

If its any consolation I was expecting Disney tickets for Christmas ( as promised by parents) instead I got clingfilm confused ! But I think my parents are a tad strange when it comes to presents and there was no malice intended.

Yfronts Tue 05-Feb-13 19:36:38

ask them if they mind returning the violin and you could use the money towards a tennis membership.

Squeakygate Tue 05-Feb-13 19:46:32

Broach subject with them or just sell it after couple of months saying "ds prefers tennis, it was just sat doing nothing". If they ask.

scarletforya Tue 05-Feb-13 19:47:41

They deffo got it free, that's why it's so random.

Get it valued and sell it.

ModernToss Tue 05-Feb-13 19:47:54

What an odd thing to do - an expensive instrument for a youngish child who has expressed no interest in it.

YANBU at all. Don't know that you'll get away with selling it though without causing huge offence.

wibblyjelly Tue 05-Feb-13 19:51:44

I would say to them that what with paying for ds's tennis, you don't have any spare cash for violin lessons, and ds wouldn't have time anyway. It seems a shame to waste such a lovely instrument, so maybe they could sell it, and the money could go toward the tennis lessons?

Frawli Tue 05-Feb-13 19:54:53

It could be that they think they are doing something nice, they might think the violin is worth more and so is a 'better' present. But if your son isn't interested then it's not better is it!

Could your DH tell them that while you appreciate the thought, it would just be a waste to give DS the violin as he has no interest in playing it?

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Tue 05-Feb-13 20:28:13

I would bet my house they are not trying to be nice.

frogspoon Tue 05-Feb-13 20:37:16

I wonder if they knew they were getting the violin and were planning to sell it to pay for tennis club membership. Then they got it valued and found it wasn't actually worth much, and so decided to give him the violin instead?

BambieO Tue 05-Feb-13 20:43:28

Ah that's so sad sad

I wish I could pay for his tennis myself! but I can't

Very odd behaviour, I would definitely tell them it's not his sort of thing and ask would they mind if you sold it to get the original present as he was so looking forward to it. They can hardly say no, like a pp said a present should be something to make the recipient happy!

5Foot5 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:45:40

That's an interesting point frogspoon

The OP only has her PIL's word for it that it is valuable. IME you can pick up second hand child-size violins really cheaply.

Could you return it and say that you can't afford the violin lessons as well as his tennis lessons and tennis membership?

HumphreyCobbler Tue 05-Feb-13 21:23:48

is it a full size violin? Will it even be an appropriate size for him to play?

I think this is really mean of them

IME a lot of people think they have got a valuable violin when they don't at all.

coldcupoftea Tue 05-Feb-13 21:30:10

I was going to say the same as Humphrey- is it even his size? Violins for children come in various sizes, if it is full size he may not be able to play it for years.

I would get DH to explain you are very grateful but it is not appropriate, he does not want violin lessons, and suggest they get their money back.

DontmindifIdo Tue 05-Feb-13 21:31:15

yep, ask your DS if he wants to learn the violin (assuming you can afford the lessons easily) then if not, sell it. Buy some tennis stuff with the money.

wizzywigg Tue 05-Feb-13 21:44:13

A violin would be a lovely present for a little boy who was learning the violin at school on a school violin. It would be so encouraging to have his own violin. Especially if it is the right size..........

Seriously, you need lessons for years and parents that want to encourage you to practice for years, and take you to the Saturday Music School to play with others.

No good if you want to play tennis sad

I like the suggestion of declining the violin/returning it on grounds of not being able to afford violin lessons as well as tennis lessons (which is what ds really wants to do).

YANBU, you don't promise a child something that they really want then whisk it away from them with no thought or consideration. Bless him for thanking them, he has lovely manners. Shame on the GP's.

*Factor in the added bonus question of, "What size is the violin MIL?" and hope they haven't a clue what you mean and have the wrong size

pluCaChange Tue 05-Feb-13 22:36:33

If this is just poor judgement, rather than malice, your DS still needs to be protected.

Poor child! So disappointed, and yet still polite! sad

AdriftAndOutOfStardust Tue 05-Feb-13 23:13:54

I agree sell the violin and use the money towards the tennis - it may not be valuable enough to cover the whole cost but you said you were willing to put some cash in yourself so hopefully you'll be able to make up the difference.

There is absolutely no point giving a child a musical instrument unless they have been really enthusiastic about learning to play.

ImperialBlether Tue 05-Feb-13 23:18:30

I would take the violin and hit a tennis ball with it as hard as I could. And again. And again.

Why would they do that? Who do they think will pay for violin lessons? What on earth made them think he'd want that?

2rebecca Tue 05-Feb-13 23:21:47

If this was my inlaws I'd ask my husband to phone them and see if they'd consider getting him the original present because he thinks his son would enjoy it more and to hang on to the violin as he hasn't expressed a wish to play it and it may be wasted at the moment.
He could also add that when his son chooses a musical instrument to play then the child and his parents will be choosing the instrument, not just picking a particular instrument because someone else has decided he should play it.
I would never buy a child an expensive musical instrument without the parents asking me to buy one for their child ie giving it as a suggestion if I asked what they'd like.
I think it's inappropriate and controlling of your inlaws to do this.
I suppose they get to choose what present they buy as their money, but your husband could mention to them that if he doesn't show any interest in it then you may sell it.

mum11970 Tue 05-Feb-13 23:23:13

Why can't your dh just ask them straight out why they bought a violin. If my parents did that I'd just ask.

Maryz Tue 05-Feb-13 23:25:26

Has anyone mentioned that you are going to have to listen to him practice, in the event he takes to it.

Poor him. And poor you.

BiteTheTopsOffIcedGems Tue 05-Feb-13 23:28:50

Disney tickets. Clingfilm. smile

2rebecca Tue 05-Feb-13 23:29:02

I agree if my dad had said he was getting my son something for xmas and birthday and then got something else I would say "dad why did you say you'd get him x and then get him y? He was really looking forward to getting x and has no interest in y " If your inlaws had already told him what they were getting him it seems particularly mean to change their present at the last moment.

jennywren123 Tue 05-Feb-13 23:33:40

Tell them you've had it valued and it's worth £20. Bet the look on their faces will be priceless smile

Clytaemnestra Tue 05-Feb-13 23:37:55

Tell them that while it was lovely, it cracked the first time your ds used it to serve in his tennis match, so they might want to look at getting their money back as it clearly wasn't fit for the purpose intended.

My DF still says it was the happiest day of his life when i gave up the violin. Sell the violin and pay for the tennis.

"Tell them you've had it valued and it's worth £20. Bet the look on their faces will be priceless "

Then ask them to go half with you as agreed, as they have in reality paid nothing for his gift.

garlicblocks Tue 05-Feb-13 23:44:52

They're being very strange and unreasonable! They gave a violin to a child who doesn't play and isn't learning - and now they're going on about how valuable it is?! What do they expect him to do with it, put it in a glass case and think about how much it's worth? confused

My grandparents gave me genuinely valuable gifts at 8yo, which of course I went on to break, lose and trade for stickers. For a long time I felt very guilty about this, whereas they were the daft ones for giving such things to kids. So the gift they gave me was ... guilt.

With DS's permission, sell the violin.

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 05-Feb-13 23:45:35

They are being mean. Or at best thoughtless. You don't buy a violin for a child who has not previously shown any interest unless you are trying to annoy his parents. It will hurt your ears. (ex violin player)

RafflesWay Tue 05-Feb-13 23:47:21

Your poor little DS and what a sweetheart for the way he behaved in the circumstances Jane. However I definitely feel your OH needs to be having a word with his parents about this and find out what is the reason for the change of original promise. Very poor behaviour by them IMO. I think it would be far better to explain "diplomatically" how unsuitable the violin would be for all reasons stated on here rather than trying to sell it behind their back which could lead to a tremendous feud as they are bound to ask about it. Far better to be upfront on this occasion I feel. If they insist on still giving the violin as the gift then they have no reason to complain at all when it just ends up in a cupboard. Then perhaps in a year or so you could ask them if they would allow you to sell it to fund something of more use to ds. In the meantime if you can afford to fund the tennis club membership I would do so as i strongly feel your ds truly deserves it.

garlicblocks Tue 05-Feb-13 23:47:52

No, Clytaemnestra's suggestion is better grin

Pandemoniaa Tue 05-Feb-13 23:49:42

That's an extraordinarily weird thing to do. Positively malign in fact since you don't tell a child to expect one thing and then buy them something that's about as far different from the original present as you can get.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Tue 05-Feb-13 23:49:47

YANBU. That's massively strange.

CuriousMama Tue 05-Feb-13 23:53:51

Very odd I'd sell violin.

catladycourtney1 Tue 05-Feb-13 23:58:36

Damn someone beat me to it, I was going to say let him use it as a tennis racket smile

But seriously, that is very odd. And I'm 99% sure they will have got it for free - it would take a serious arse to actually spend good money on such a pointless present. Maybe they decided they couldn't afford what they'd promised, but were too embarrassed to say so or ask you if you wouldn't mind chipping in after all?

deleted203 Wed 06-Feb-13 00:15:17

I think this is awful, TBH. You don't promise a child something they are looking forward to and then replace it with a bizarre gift like this one! Your DS was very polite, bless him. I would get DH to phone and tell them that you are upset that DS was promised tennis membership and that he was really excited about it. Point out that it is surreal to decide that someone else's child should learn a particular musical instrument and go out and buy them one - and also that you can't afford violin lessons. Neither does DS want them. (And believe me, as the mother of a child who actually took lessons at primary school you don't want to be encouraging any violin practice grin).

I think it would be perfectly reasonable to say, given that they had promised to go halves with you on tennis club membership that you would prefer to stick to the original agreement.

And I wouldn't be too worried about offending them. They weren't too worried about offending you.

adeucalione Wed 06-Feb-13 07:03:36

Is it possible that they felt even slightly cajoled into paying for the tennis club membership, and really would have preferred to buy a wrappable gift?

Or that your DS has at any time confided in them that he doesn't really enjoy tennis and/or would really love to learn an interest? Or expressed any envy for a friend who is learning an instrument?

If not, they are being VU indeed.

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 06-Feb-13 07:51:27

Tell them you have checked and you can't afford violin lessons particularly as you are now having to pay for tennis membership, please do contact them. They are being mean to your son. don't ever let them discuss presents in the future stop them and say you don't want to build your son's hopes up unnecessarily.

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 06-Feb-13 07:55:52

Yes Bitesthetopoff clingfilm - and my mum kept asking me if I had that type of clingfilm already, bless. But they are generous in other ways and we can afford the Disney tickets so its not like they were blasting DS's dreams. Just slightly annoying as we'd worked our budget around the tickets.

Sorry for slight derail.

Oh and music lessons are v expensive. I'm sure they were around the £20 a half hour mark when I was young, which wasn't today or yesterday.

Pagwatch Wed 06-Feb-13 08:02:58

I think you son is fab. To have thanked the politely when he must have been disappointed is very gracious and well mannered of him.

I agree witheveryone else who has said that you must have a conversation with them and say that a violin will be of no use unless you an afford to pay for lessons - which of course you can't or you and ds wouldn't have been so grateful fr the offer of tennis lessons.

I am tryingto think that they maybe felt it was such a brilliant gift in they we can sometimes. If it is a thing they see as fabulous thy may lack the sense/ability to see that your son might view it differently. Butit is bizarre and unkind when ds was told that he was getting tennis lessons.

jumpingjackhash Wed 06-Feb-13 08:06:13

How about getting your son to practise at your ILs' place? That'll teach them.

Thumbwitch Wed 06-Feb-13 08:06:25

I'm going with the "sell it" option as well. Once it's given to your DS, it's his to do with as he pleases - and he wants the tennis club membership so he can use the violin to fund that.

Apart from anything else, you don't give a valuable violin to a small boy who has never played it and has no interest in it - you give valuable violins to children who have some aptitude for the instrument!

I agree with:
• it's probably been given to them (in which case, HOW tight? to give it as a joint birthday and Christmas present!)
• they are thoughtless arses that don't actually care about your DS or his feelings
• it's really off to let him think he was getting tennis club membership and then replace it with something he neither wanted nor needed

Your DS, btw, is a little star for keeping his manners when talking to them.

RainbowSpiral Wed 06-Feb-13 18:10:10

My parents do stuff like that re changing presents once they are promised. They also don't consider lessons, memberships etc to be proper presents and buy things kids don't want instead. Its all very annoying as they are very rich.

A violin without violin lessons is not much use.

Pandemoniaa Wed 06-Feb-13 18:17:26

A violin without violin lessons is not much use.

But it makes an excellent instrument of torture for the whole family, doesn't it? Which makes me wonder just how many ulterior motives are behind this unexpected change of present.

Kafri Wed 06-Feb-13 18:24:52

That's very random - I play tennis and i'd be gutted if someone decided to swap a present for a violin and i'm supposed to be a grown up. A violin of all things?? What on earth posessed them?

I'm with hissy - have it valued and trade sell it towards tennis club!

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