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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lying is just love in disguise

My parents were cruel.

When I asked (fine: yelled, screamed, begged, pleaded, bribed) for a Nintendo for Christmas when I was 10 or 11 (I don't remember which) they came to me on Christmas Eve to say they were very sorry, but they couldn't find a Nintendo anywhere. It was the hot toy that year.

Things haven't changed much in 20 years.

They were very gentle about it, and disappointed, and I did my best to not sulk too much about it.

I think.

When Christmas morning rolled around we took turns opening presents, and I was the official doler-outer of the gifts. Some were torn open immediately, and others (like the big box I wanted my dad to open first because I wanted to see what my mom had bought him) were set aside until later in favour of the smaller gifts. As I doled, and opened, and doled, and opened, I couldn't help but notice that I hadn't opened in a while.

I was done.

My sister still had some to open, but the rest of my Christmas morning was spent passing presents around trying not to look absolutely crushed. Not only did I not get a Nintendo, but I also hadn't received as many presents as my little sister.

Spoiled much? It's all about the quantity, baby, not the quality.

Finally the morning ended, and I passed that big present to my dad to open. He saw how disappointed I was about the whole process and let me open it for him, just to give me something fun to do.

You know where this is going, right? Because most of you are parents, and you know what parents do.

I ripped the paper off, revealing a brand new Nintendo Entertainment System: Action Set (the one with the gun and the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt combo).

They had driven to Ottawa (an hour away) and combed the city looking for one, and finally found one at JC Penny. It was on layaway for someone else who never bothered to pick it up, so on Christmas Eve they were able to buy it themselves and bring it home for me.

They thought it would be funny or something to watch me sulk all morning.

It was funny. Right?

You'd think I would have learned something from that. Something apart from the great parenting truth that "Lying is just love in disguise".

But I didn't. I didn't learn.

The next Christmas when I begged for a Power Glove (Nintendo's first attempt at a Wii-type controller), my mom was very sorry to tell me that they couldn't find one anywhere.

Yeah. I fell for it. Again.

And within hours I was knocking out Bald Bull and King Hippo with my Power Glove. The display copy from the mall store that they were finally able to sell at the last minute to the woman who was waiting so patiently (or threatening them with death).

Tell me I'm not the only one to fall for stuff like this. And that I'm not the only one who is totally going to do it to their own kids.

There really is something incredibly loving about these stories. Even though they are mostly about tricking a kid into being a jerk on Christmas morning.


Anonymous said...

I know they loved you, but it seems kind of mean..but I guess we have to get our kicks somehow huh?

Headless Mom said...

My mom did this to me when I wanted a Walkman.

Yea, first gen ipod!

That was way back around 1982.

God, I'm old.

SciFi Dad said...

My parents never did that. I mean, I understand the thought process, but mine never did it to me. And I don't think I'd do it to my kid.

Forever In School said...

Once on my birthday, my parents told me that they were not able to buy me a present for some reason. I was such a jerk, I yelled and screamed and swore(!), so much that it made my dad very upset. He just took me to the car and showed me the gift that they had bought me, about 15 books. And I loved books, so that was like the best present ever for me. But the birthday was ruined anyway.

But you know what? In my case, they learned their lesson, and never ever did such a thing to me!!

Mary Beth said...

One year my mother thought it would be funny to hide the receipt to my present inside a 4' box filled with packing peanuts. I'm digging through all the little styrofoam pellets looking for something tangible and it turned out to be a piece of paper. For a glass fronted cabinet that I was drooling over in the store. Yes I was an adult, and she still got me. Took me quite a while before I realized there really wasn't anything in the box. I'm so sad!

Jenni said...

My parents did the exact same thing to my brother and I the year we got our NES. We never got the gove but we had that twister-looking pad that you ran on.

We played R.B.I for hours and hours and thought it was the greatest game ever.

attiton said...

Ottawa, huh? So that "colour" thing wasn't so much of a "slip" as a "reversion," then.

I was an only child (not a googlable fact), and so I tended to get what I wanted without any whining. I'd just ask, they'd buy. They were just pleased not to have to think too hard about it.

And, ironically, the year we got our Atari 2600, it was *really* for my Dad. Honestly, it was. The fact that I whiled away endless summer days playing Pitfall and that horrid Indiana Jones game was just coincidence.

Christy said...

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I have no "happy" trickery stories...we were poor, so there were no nintendos, BUT on a funnier note. My husband and I (then botfriend) bought that nintendo for ourselves when we were older and we only just sold it at a yard sale 4 years ago. I TOTALLY MISS THAT GAME! Super Mario Bros was my favorite.

Carolyn...Online said...

I would so love to pull that shit on my 7 year old. But she would NOT think it was funny and we would ALL PAY!

Black Hockey Jesus said...

Yeah Jackson keeps asking for a Wii for his birthday on thw 27th and I'm like "Everybody look at Jackson. He's in the RICH family with the FANCY electric toys. Pick a board game, Don Flamenco."

He's totally depressed. The Wii is stashed in the closet.

Jennifer said...

heehee My FIL did something similar to my husband when he was about 8 or so. They had ordered some Pay-Per-View wrestling thing for him and he was soooo excited about it. A few minutes before it was supposed to start, his dad secretly disconnected the cable behind the tv so the tv went all fuzzy. Dan was flipping, and then his dad tried to 'fix' it- he would bang a hammer on the wall and touch the cable to the connector for a second so it turned back on- Dan would get all excited! Then he'd pull it away. He did this for a while and Dan was having a fit, even suggesting that they go see if the neighbors ordered it. MEAN!!! lol

Heather said...

Most of my Christmas stories are depressing and don't involve any secret hidden great gifts. As a result, I buy my daughter whatever she asks for. She would never believe it if I tried to pretend I was empty handed on Xmas or bdays. However, when I was a kid, on year I gave my brother a training bra for Xmas. He was a little chubby and we teased him that he had boobs. He didn't really but you know how siblings can be. It was pink and lacy, and he was ticked off big time.

ps. I want to know about Wil Wheaton.

MadWoman said...

I haven't done it to the kids yet because I haven't figured out how to clue them in to the fact that I am indeed as evil as my own mother.

However (!!) I have already done this to Hotty Hubby. works on spouses too. Last year, he wanted a PS2 for Christmas (or a Wii, but he doesn't like to dream too big) and I swore up and down I couldn't find one. He fell for it. Just like you.


Rima said...

I am so glad to hear that I'm not the only Christmas morning present counter out there. And I would have totally fallen for it, too.

CaraBee said...

When I was nine, I wanted nothing more than a 10-speed bicycle. My parents told me that I wasn't old enough to have a big kid bike, so I didn't even dare to hope that I would get one. Christmas morning, we opened all of the presents and then my dad sent us outside to go play with one of my sister's toys. There on the front porch was my shiny new red 10-speed. Happy doesn't even begin to describe me that day. I absolutely plan to fake my kids out, that's part of growing up!

tiennie said...

We are so totally those parents. And the kids still fall for it every time!

Foz Meadows said...

Oh, man - my parents did this to me with a PlayStation, the first console I ever owned, and Spyro the Dragon, which was the game I wanted. They kept on making, 'Well, you probably won't get one, we don't approve, too expensive' noises in the leadup, so I was braced for not getting one on Christmas day - although still a bit sad. But then they pulled out two gifts that hadn't been under the tree but which had been hidden in the top of the wardrobe, one small, one big. I opened the small one first - it was the Spyro game. My eyes lit up, and I ripped into the next one - the console.

Ah, happy memories! And I'm *totally* doing that to my own kids, one day. :)

kateanon said...

My sister's 25, she still does the doling out & counting thing. And come on, Christmas is all about deception, if you think about it. Elves decorating, Santa visiting, not buying that thing or it being sold out... all part of the deal

Charming Driver said...

Due to his singing, guitar playing and resemblance to Elvis I, um, actually thought my dad was Elvis until I was mmmmm say 7 or 8 (and at that point, the real Elvis had been dead for years.....OR WAS HE??!). Sadly nobody corrected this mis-perception until I had a total meltdown with an older neighborhood kid over the veracity of my claim.

for a different kind of girl said...

I LOVE gifts, and am a notorious gift counter. I like to save the biggest gift for last, and always imagine it holds the treasure I've wanted most. My husband does this trick to me, and completely believes he's saving the best for last. Alas, I've opened up a lot of boxes that contain the soundtrack to Star Wars: Episode 4, and men's shaving kits.

Matt Johnson said...

I had this happen to me, but it was my wife that pulled the trick, and I was in my 20s. I guess you're never to old!

The Flirty Girl said...

LOL nope never fell for it because I, sadly, never had the opportunity. When my folks said "you aren't getting that?" They meant it. Your post made me laugh though.

Cocotte said...

And this is why so many people have "issues" from their childhood.....

Badass Geek said...

"Lying is just love in disguise"?

I'm going to tell that to my wife when she figures out where I really was last night.

Marilyn said...

No one lied to me that I remember.. but I also got that Nintendo set (must have been the same Christmas, I remember they were HUGE that year) and that was probably the best Christmas EVER.

However, we really get a kick out of torturing our 8 year old because he believes everything we tell him. SUCKER.

Backpacking Dad said...

that girl: totally mean. right?

headless mom: what's a walkman?

scifi dad: you are a better man than I.

forverinschool: backfire!

marybeth: I would have been digging in the box forever.

jenni: I still have a Nintendo with RBI. It is still the best game ever.

attiton: my dad totally tried to tell me that it was "his" Nintendo. Whatever dude. I kicked his ass at Contra, because I knew the Konami Code.

christy: you can still play super mario brothers with a gameboy advance.

carolyn online: yeah. My parents pegged me as a sulker rather than a screamer :}

black hockey jesus: raising children via mockery is the only right way to do it.

jennifer: that is awesome. Cable tv, wrestling, hammers. That story has it all.

heather: check out "Erin Goes to SuperCon". :}

madwoman: yeah, I kind of pulled the same trick with my wife's engagement ring :}

rima: it's all about the piles being even. You know? I still count. :}

carabee: yeah. It's amazing how happy you can be in contrast to how sulky you feel just a second earlier.

tiennie: yeah. kids are dumb :}

foz meadows: aw, they did it backwards. You needed to open the Playstation first. Seeing the game just ruined the total surprise.

kateanon: they don't call mischief "reindeer games" for nothing :}

charming driver: that. is. hilarious.

FADKOG: I'm never going to your house for Christmas. I know what kind of presents you get.

matt johnson: nope. never.

the flirty girl: gah! 3 people now with Christmas stories that make me want to shoot myself :}

cocotte: yep. We are here to give our kids issues.

badass geek: it'll work.

marilyn: word.

Katie said...

One year my parents bought us skis for Christmas but rather than wrap them, they wrapped like 6 small random boxes. And after opening boxes of sprinkler heads, box of old (but clean) socks and a few other random things, they brought out the skis and we were much less confused.

I'd like to think I figure out that they didn't actually buy me a sprinkler head, but honestly, I've always been pretty gullible.

Steph said...

I would have been crushed if my parents had done that to me. My daughter on the other hand totally deserves it ;P

Kelley said...

Popped over cause I just confessed my love for you at Tanis' place.

Yeah, my parents pulled that crap. Once. And then every single year after I thought they were tricking when they said that they would not buy me a pony. And they didn't.

But I got them back. Got knocked up at 19 to a Hungarian radio announcer/ club DJ that they thought was gay.

Anonymous said...

Parents are the best. I distinctly remember opening a shoe box with a note explaining "Rudolph sneezed and your present fell off the sleigh. I'll drop it off next week. Love, Santa."

I loved the Nintendo. Good times and good memories.

attiton said...


attiton said...

Typo: missed the second 'a' there...

Aunt Becky said...

Your parents are obviously brilliant genuises. Or is that genuii? I seriously never would have thought to do this to my kids. But now...

*rubs hands together menacingly*

Jozet at Halushki said...

The old Red Rider BB Gun stunt, eh? I love that trick. I mean, show of love. ;-P

What I do to my kids is let them beg and beg for some expensive toy, and then they don't get it, and then they really don't get it because we really can't afford it. That trick stinks most of all, I think.

Backpacking Dad said...

katie: now that's how you disguise skis :}

steph: the kids always do

kelley: ha! Strange women confessing their love for me always gets me in trouble. :}

meg: but did you get the present?

attiton: almost. You don't need to press Select. And it's "up up down down left right left right b a b a start"

aunt becky: and so it continues, passed on from parent to child, parent to parent, and soon the world will be overrun with Christmas lies! :}

jozet at halushki: That is the worst trick :}

womaninawindow said...

So true, and see how much fun it is 20-30 years later? Oh ya, baby!

Social Butterfly said...

My parents tried that when I begged for a CD player for abut 7 months. They screwed up though. They hid the CD player and forgot that there was a wrapped CD under the tree, and it was like the third present I opened. I knew immediately that they had stashed a CD player somewhere, and they weren't very good liars. :)

Anonymous said...

I used to find my hidden Christmas presents and break into them because my rabid curiosity Just. Couldn't. Take. It. Then I would re-wrap them, badly. It was totally obvious and really started to piss my mom off.

One year I snuck into a pair of gray ankle boots that, in the mid-1980s, were H-O-T, HOT. I tried them on, planned outfits around them, and wrapped them back up.

My mom figured it out and, to teach me a lesson, the Queen of the Punishment-Fits-the-Crime disciplinary technique used the same box but took the boots out and instead wrapped an 8x10 picture of herself.

When I opened the present on Christmas morning I was all set to act surprised. But I didn't need to act becuase I was REALLY frickin' surprised when I opened the package and got a lousy picture of my mom for Christmas.

This is a super long comment but I thought it was worth it.

Threeundertwo said...

We told our kids for many months before last Christmas that there was no way on earth we would ever get them a Wii.

Santa did. They believe.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I can honestly say I never went through anything like that. If my parents said they weren't buying something, they really weren't buying it. It sucked.

But, do I think it would be a pleasure to do that to my daughter if she ever starts acting like a goober about presents? ABSOLUTELY.

Gemini Girl said...

Dude- that is not mean!

You know what mean is?

Waiting for a doll that you saved up your allowance for to come in the mail- and it NEVER did. One day while looking through mother's purse for candy- I cam across the envelope with the info for the doll that I had ordered- and NO MONEY. She took the money out, never sent away for my doll and told me that it may have been lost in the mail!

yeah- your parents were "mean"

excavator said...

Yeah, I have a philosophical problem with laying a person low with disappointment then to suddenly 'rescue' them from the sadness they causes. It seems like jerking someone around.

And worse, what if, as you say, in your disappointment you HAD acted like a jerk--wouldn't you then feel badly when you DO get what you want? Wouldn't that taint the pleasure of the gift?

It seems unfair to do that to a child.

Not to mention, there's the troubling notion that it's reinforcing an idea of 'hanging in' with something long after it's clear that it's over. Because of the idea of the miraculous fix if one just waits long enough.

By the way my name is Debora and I found you by way of aunt becky. And I'm getting anxious that my blogroll is increasing because the number of books I'm reading is decreasing proportionately. But damn, I read one good post, read a good response, follow the link, and then another blog blooms on my blogroll. I wish I could be paid to read blogs.

Shamelessly Sassy said...

how awesome was nintendo? seriously. And super nintendo. I still have one that I play in my living room. Also, so bummed that I am not at Blogher. I would have loved to have met you!

Anonymous said...

You know that sqigley line on Hostess cupcakes? My dad convinced that it was the name of the owner. That one's for Mary, John, Mike. Nope, no cupcakes for Aracely. Never a cupcake for Aracely!

Fiesty Charlie said...

I remember one year, my mom decided I needed a doll house to "girl" me up a bit. It was the tall one that had real lights and the whole thing.

Well, Christmas morning rolls around and my younger brother sees the doll house, throws a fit that he wants it. My step-bastard gave it to him.

Since the doll house cost so much, I ended up with what was in my stocking that year, an apple, a candy cane and a yo-yo.

Nope, I never plan on doing that to my kids...

Your stories are pretty cute and I can see you totally doing that to your ankle biters!

Fiesty Charlie said...

Forgot to add that you are my Blog of the Week, highlighted blog!