Posted by: Willem | July 28, 2009

Items Not for Sale

Tomorrow is Jacob’s 5th birthday.  It will be a day of great happiness and celebration around here despite the distractions of my job, preparations for the impending move, and another trip to the doctor for Kate.  Five is an important age.  In addition to attending kindergarten, Jacob will learn how to write, swim, ride a bike, and tie his shoes.  He will lose his first tooth, no doubt quickly followed by his second and third.  And he will continue to grow, physically and intellectually, into a Big Boy.

Unfortunately, he will also become more aware of the recent issues surrounding my family.  As much as we would like to shield both kids from any unpleasantness, Kate and I don’t make a habit of lying to them.  We want them to know why Grandma hasn’t called or contacted them in several months, why we had to leave Grandpa’s memorial early, and why their mother was reprimanded in front of them.   We don’t tell them what to think – we ask them what they think and then we discuss it.

I bring this up because today we returned home from various errands to find a box on our front step.  A big box.  A box containing birthday present(s) for Jacob.  I knew immediately who it was from, but I checked the return address just in case.  But, as I suspected, it’s from Grandma.  And it’s a good thing the return address is on there.

Because it’s going back, unopened.

My kids are not for sale.  You cannot buy their love with presents, you must earn it with your actions.  You must demonstrate far more effort than the ability to swipe a credit card.  You must respect their mother.  You must listen to me when I tell you things are not okay.  You must face conflict and not ignore the mistakes you make.  You must act like an adult – not like a spoiled child.

The last time I saw you, as I was attempting to defend my wife, you looked me in the face and said, “Goodbye!”  You said it with a finality that clearly displayed your anger and contempt.  Since then you have made no attempt to contact me concerning this incident.  Not one word.  Despite this, you, your sister’s family, and a few friends frequent this blog multiple times a day.  You care enough to read and gossip, but not enough to do anything about it.

What makes you think that you can act this way and then send my son presents?

We’re not telling Jacob about the box for now – he doesn’t need to hear about any more family conflict on his special day.  He’s a great kid – thoughtful and brave.  I know he could easily handle it.  But not tomorrow.

Tomorrow the focus is on him, and those who have earned the right to share the day with us.



  1. Bravo, Willem. Well said. Hopefully the heartfelt words are taken to heart.

  2. Well said, as everything has been from you and Kate during this entire ordeal. I hope you send it back “postage due.”

  3. I woner how long it will take before I am accused of having written this post myself?

    Because I thought about it, about writing something along these lines. And then I agreed with Willem: nothing I say will have any effect on the situation at all.

    Instead I’ll just appreciate the feeling of being in a damn good relationship. I wonder just how appalled my mother-in-law would be to realize that her behavior has only served to strengthen what was already a good thing.

  4. Great response Willem. Sad that it has to be in this forum rather than conventional means, but props for taking care of it in the best way you could, and still be an adult about it.

    /fades back into his lurking corner…

  5. What a very brave thing to do — sending the package back, that is. Good job, Willem.

  6. Un. Be. Lievable.

    I think you have handled this admirably up until now, and I think you are making the right choice regarding the box.

  7. HAppy Birthday JAcob

  8. I do not know about the past events. That anyone is possesses such strong convictions about a person they love is beyond admirable. That it is in defiance of family resounds a strong foundation.

    Stay true to your convictions, but do not deny the possibility that others can grow and change. Foster it, embrace it, and pass it on.

  9. I’d like one of each! You’re surrounded by great men.

  10. Willem you are a wonderful father, an amazingly supportive husband and a good son. I’m so sorry you have to do this but frankly, it’s been well over three strikes and your mother should be ashamed. Your immediate family on the other hand love you more than you’ll ever know and quite deservedly so. I wish Jacob a very happy fifth birthday and I hope that someday Grandma realises the errors of her ways and that your priorities are now with Kate and your little family. BTW do you have a single brother? 50 ish? Living in Sydney?

  11. Well said.
    And happy birthday little guy!

  12. Happiest of birthdays to dear Jacob!

    Willem, no one should have to do what you have been doing, but you (and Kate) are handling the situation with grace, maturity, and good sense. I am proud to know you both!

  13. Oh, how sad. For all of you.

  14. *SIGH* May something wonderful come out of this, both of you have handled this well especially since the only communication is coming over this blog. I shiver at the thought of having to be in your shoes but you guys are being wonderful examples of a supportive married couple that your kids will grown and learn from all of thier lives.

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