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How do I tell my aunt that something I borrowed was damaged? I think she will be upset.

(5 Posts)
BertieBotts Mon 08-Aug-11 18:14:56

When DS was born, we inherited a cot which originally belonged to my aunt and then after her was used for my half-siblings from my dad's second marriage. They passed it onto us, not my aunt directly, so I don't think at the time it was stated that she wanted it back. But it was over three years ago and I was in a pregnancy haze, and there's a chance it might have been mentioned but I forgot.

Anyway, when DS was born I was with XP who was a bit useless. We converted the cot into a 3-sided one which was always the plan, but he waited until DS was 2 days old to do it. So when the original plan failed (drilling some extra, small unobtrusive holes in the frame higher up to raise the mattress up) he wouldn't let me look and help to decide on a solution, but insisted on fixing it his own way, which was to screw some extra bits of wood into the frame to rest the base on. The base may even be screwed into the extra bits of wood, I wasn't really paying attention to the project, as he was blocking me out and I was trying to look after our two day old son. His botched attempt, though, means that the cot is visually damaged more than I ever intended it to be, it's not anything massive, but is annoying.

The second main problem is that when I left XP, I left in quite a hurry, because he was emotionally abusive and I was frightened of his reaction, and in the rush, the fourth cot side and some of the bolts (from the original fittings) got left behind. XP later informed me that everything left in the house went to the tip.

So when DS got to about 2, we saw my aunt and she asked if he had grown out of the cot yet, because she was excited to get it back and keep it for any future babies in the family, and I felt awful. So I just said no, not quite yet, but didn't mention the missing side or bolts or the extra holes, because I didn't know what to do. I then posted on mumsnet to see if anyone had an old cot which matched, to see if I could get hold of a spare side, but most of the posters thought this would likely be unsafe, something I'd admittedly not thought of. I don't want to buy a similar one and pass it off because I'd feel awful, and plus the original baby it was bought for is now 17, so there's no way of getting an identical one. We can't really afford to replace it anyway.

She has just asked if I am free for her to visit this week, and I know she'll ask about it again as DS is nearer to three now and obviously too big for a cot. I think she will be upset because she seemed so entranced at the idea of hanging on to this cot, she is very sentimental about family heirlooms and passing things on. So I don't know whether to write this all down in an email, or tell her in person. I'm leaning towards email because that's the way I'd prefer to receive news like this, and prevents awkwardness (my sister and DP will probably be here when I see her) but I don't know if that is just cheating and most people would prefer to be told face to face.

buzzsore Mon 08-Aug-11 18:23:15

I think it's better to say it face-to-face because then she will be able to see how genuinely upset, worried and sorry you are about it.

It's not your fault that the cot was damaged in the first place, and it's not your fault you had to leave in a hurry from a horrible situation. (It would help if your aunt already knows the truth about your relationship?)

BertieBotts Mon 08-Aug-11 18:34:03

Oh no, I forgot to mention that. Last time I saw her was only a few months after I'd left XP and was still feeling quite raw about it. I didn't feel able to tell her what really happened because she just kept going on about what a "nice young man" XP was and how she thought it was really sad that we'd split up and he seemed like a nice person, and it felt like an attack at a time when I was feeling guilty about ending things anyway. Looking back she was probably trying to be sympathetic, so I would probably be able to talk more openly now.

thisisyesterday Mon 08-Aug-11 18:38:14

hmmm well i would either re-visit your original idea and try and get a spare side or replacemtn... check ebay maybe?

if you don't want to do that then definitely tell her in person.

FabbyChic Mon 08-Aug-11 19:24:33

Id send her an email and tell her how very sorry you are, tell her about your relationship with the asshole and tell her it was him that damaged it and at the time there was nothing you could do.

You could pay a carpenter to make a replacement side and fit it for you though in time.

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