An anonymous Puncher writes:

Do they not understand me at all!?

“My mother has taken up art, painting, sketching and drawing. She works from photos and not real life, but she puts a lot of work into them and loves it. She did a drawing of my daughter, her granddaughter, and it’s awful. It looks nothing like her. Worse yet, she gave it to my husband who hates it. I know it’s ungrateful but I’ve had to endure my mothers dressmaking, cross stitching, knitting, patchwork and now art all my life. Now I have my own home, I’d like to think I get the choice of what goes up. Or do I have to put the picture up and grimace each time I pass it?”

What would you do? Put the painting up anyway, burn your house down to save face? Is there a kind way to deal with bad presents?

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    • Hala Abokamil says:

      10:30am | 18/01/13

      Yes it is always awkward when you get something you didn’t want or need, or when it just plain befuddles you.
      Result: the ‘present face’ -

    • To Be Fair says:

      10:31am | 18/01/13

      LOL.. In my opinion, you will be Right in Not putting it up on the wall in your house if you don’t like it. Like you correctly mentioned, it is your house and you are a grown-up so you can make the choice!! If I were you, I will put it away somewhere safe (in case mum asks about it :p) but not hang it up on display!! :D

    • Kat says:

      10:32am | 18/01/13

      Put the picture up and leave it there for a month or two so your mum can see that you like it.

      After a couple of months re-arrange your pictures and don’t put the painting back up. When your mum asks where it is just say you did a big clean up of your house and you must have put it somewhere for safe keeping but you have forgotten where.

    • Pisces says:

      11:33am | 18/01/13

      She could always tell her mum that she just doesn’t like it and suggest that mum hangs it up on her wall so she can appreciate her artistic talents each time she looks at it.

      Mum sounds like an emotionally domineering clown who just needs to hear the word “no” occasionally.

      I wonder what does mum does with her unwanted gifts…mmmh!

    • AdamC says:

      12:53pm | 18/01/13

      Pisces, that seems like a pretty tactless and hurtful approach.

      I think Kat has it right. Though I would only put the thing on display when my mum came over, and keep it in a draw at other times.

    • andrew says:

      10:42am | 18/01/13

      I’d probably put it up for a while, say 6 months or so - then replace it with something you like and throw the gift out. If questioned explain that you really liked the new ( whatever you hung there instead ) and didn’t have space to put it elsewhere. It’s pretty much the system we run - anytime something new comes into the house something of similar size needs to be given away or thrown out.

    • Colin says:

      10:45am | 18/01/13

      Your mother has shown you nothing but love, compassion, and kindness; she wants to share her art with you, that very thing that is so personal to us all. The thing that allows us to express feelings and emotions in a drawn or sculpted form, our art is at the very heart of our being, and it is your mother’s heart-felt wish that you accept the love and the joy she receives from you and shows to you , in turn, in her art work…

      But, then, if it was me I’d just throw it in the bin; life is too short for cheap wine and bad art… tongue laugh

    • Pisces says:

      11:40am | 18/01/13

      Your last sentence saved you from a severe tongue-lashing. Love it ????

    • Bitten says:

      01:55pm | 18/01/13

      But, then, if it was me I’d just throw it in the bin; life is too short for cheap wine and bad art… 


    • T says:

      10:45am | 18/01/13

      Cop it on the chin, but I wouldn’t be putting them up. If she askes why tell her you don’t want the kids ruining it. That you have it stored away in and air tight bag to preserve it. She’ll love it!

      You just have to put up with the people you love. that’s what life is, isn’t it?

    • Chillin says:

      10:56am | 18/01/13

      Nope tell her it’s not up because you don’t like it.

    • Joe says:

      11:05am | 18/01/13

      Be grateful for all presents. Its the meaning of the present to the giver not the value of it to you.

      Anyone who has to write to a blogger for advice has a bigger problem that unwanted gifts.

    • k.marshall says:

      11:50am | 18/01/13

      You wouldn’t say that if you had my mother smile

    • Bertrand says:

      12:57pm | 18/01/13

      At Christmas my children receive far more toys than they could ever need or that we have room to keep.

      We tend to keep in their boxesabout 80% of the gifts they receive from friends and family and donate them to places like domestic violence refuges and foster care organisations.

      I don’t feel bad about this because every year we tell people not to buy gifts and every year they do anyway.

    • Bertrand says:

      12:57pm | 18/01/13

      At Christmas my children receive far more toys than they could ever need or that we have room to keep.

      We tend to keep in their boxesabout 80% of the gifts they receive from friends and family and donate them to places like domestic violence refuges and foster care organisations.

      I don’t feel bad about this because every year we tell people not to buy gifts and every year they do anyway.

    • dancan says:

      11:08am | 18/01/13

      You know when your mum or dad dies you’ll look back on these bad gifts with affection and only wish you could get another one.  you may hate it now but hang on to gifts like these, especially if they’ve been hand made

    • che says:

      11:56am | 18/01/13

      Spot on, who cares how good it is, it’s hand made by your loved one. That’s the thought the counts!

    • Ben C says:

      11:11am | 18/01/13

      Depending on how old your daughter is, tell your mother that you’ve kept it somewhere for safekeeping, and that it’ll be presented to your daughter upon reaching some milestone, like a 21st birthday.

    • iMitchy says:

      11:12am | 18/01/13

      Hang it on the back of the toilet door. You’ll personally never really have to look at it that much but you can tell your mum that it is the one picture in the house that all the guests will truly notice and take the time to appreciate rather than just the passing glance that the pictures on the walls and mantlepiece receive. That’s why a lot of parents put the times tables posters there for the kids - they can poop and learn!

      After the first visit she’ll agree with you and Hey Presto! Mum is happy and you can just continue to play Angry Birds while you poop.

    • Conceptia says:

      11:15am | 18/01/13

      Put it in the pool room. This is your mum, she loves you and she loves your family. Not to treat it with respect is to kick her in the teeth. They say the meaning of art is in the eye of the viewer - you already know the meaning: it shows how much she loves you. To reject the piece is to reject the meaning. Accept this with good grace.

    • fml says:

      11:17am | 18/01/13

      Burn it! Burn it all the way to hades!

    • GKM says:

      11:22am | 18/01/13

      Put it up in your daughters room or tell your mum you have put it away for your daughter to have when she is older.

    • sunny says:

      04:24pm | 18/01/13

      That’s what I was thinking. Genes can skip a generation, so why not bad art gifts too!

    • Phil says:

      11:25am | 18/01/13

      Simple. Bad parents are common. Ignore them.
      Mine are so consumed with their own sense of importance that they are missing out on the best things in life. Yes they travel a lot and see the world, but as Ive explained when the grandkids are young they think the sun rises and sets form grandparents arses.
      Wifes parents are excellent and do stuff with the kids all the time, yet mine never have enough time or are too busy unless booked in months in advance.
      As for crap gifts, my mother is a master at that, bar a special bottle opener she bought years ago, most things I have received are crap and are simply put away for a few years then chucked out. I used to tell her she bought shit but she got offended, so I stopped. I think I have a few unopened ones somewhere.
      Mum did a few crappy sewing things when the kids were little, but as soon as my daughters realised how crap they were the took them and put them away by themselves.

    • Rose says:

      12:22pm | 18/01/13

      Wow, you think you have bad parents because they have a life?? It’s not how often your parents see their grandkids, or whether or not they babysit or do the whole ‘turn up at everything your kids do’  that matters, it’s whether of not they are really ‘with’ the kids while they are there.
      I’m not sure that putting their lives on hold in order to be at yours and your kids’ beck and call would make them good parents, I think it would eventually become a pain in the arse for everyone concerned. Just accept the type of people your parents are, and that they have every right to put their needs first now, and stop comparing them to the in-laws, people with different likes, desires and life choices.

    • Paul says:

      12:47pm | 18/01/13

      Damn Phil… Sounds like you are a miserable SOB.  I suspect the reason your folks don’t come around to see you and the children that much… is you.

      Seriously, if you think it’s ok to hurt your mum by rejecting her gifts I’m not surprised she doesn’t make time for you!  Based on what you have written you sound like a spoilt ratbag… And I hope your children grow up to treat you in exactly the same way.  I suspect your wife is much nicer to her parents than you are to yours which is why they are around more.

    • Sam says:

      01:34pm | 18/01/13

      Your kids don’t sacrifice to give you the life you want, you sacrifice to give your kids the life they deserve. Phil is simply lamenting that they are not enjoying what many would consider the best years of being a grandparent.

      I would put the pic with all the other framed things in the garage that are not on the walls as there is not enough space.

    • Idiot boomer in laws says:

      01:59pm | 18/01/13

      I am going to stick up for Phil here. Phil’s parents sound just like my in laws. They only have time for their only grandchild when it suits them. They expect us to drop everything when they decide to make their occasional visit. And yet when we visit them, we have to work around their social life. We both work full time and also work weekends, evenings and public holidays yet can always make time to visit them. These people have been retired as of the age of 40 while my MIL has never worked and yet they think their time is more important than anyone else’s. They sometimes offer to take our daughter to things like the Christmas parade, only to cancel at the last minute or turn up hours late. They’ve turned up hours late to every special event like birthdays and christenings and expect everyone else to sit and wait.
      They get obviously tired of and exasperated with our daughter within an hour or two of visiting and just expect her to disappear and not make a peep. And yet tell their friends and other family members about how much time they put into being grandparents. The pair of them are an absolute joke.
      And as far as crap gifts go, they never spend more than $20, never include a card and never wrap. Gifts are usually completely unsuitable, inappropriate for young children or are my husbands (broken and rusty) old toys they’ve found around the house, to save them forking out a penny.
      My husband I I certainly don’t think they should put their lives on hold for their grandchild but spending 5 minutes of actually playing with her wouldn’t hurt, rather than shooing her away. And we’d prefer they bought nothing than the cheap or broken crap they dish out.

    • Jay2 says:

      02:05pm | 18/01/13

      I know of Grandparents like Phil’s, and based upon that, I don’t he isn’t being a miserable sob.

      My BF’s Parents have made very little effort with their Grandkids in the last 18 years. 
      The only time they saw the Grandkids was when my friend loaded the kids in the car and drove the forty minute trip. The visit would only last 30 minutes tops, because a four year old who never shut up irritated the crap out of Grandpa & ma apparently.
      Even when the kids did sports ten minutes from the Grandparent’s doorstep, they apparently couldn’t make the trip,not once, because that was when Grandpa’s televised dart game was run.
      Birthdays were a hit and miss for actually remembering. For the eldest’s 16th, she received $15.00 worth of scratch lottery tickets-too bad if she actually won ‘cause legally she couldn’t collect it.
      Now the Grandparents are older, don’t travel and are more house confined, apparently all they ever do now is whinge to my BF how the now grown up Grandkids don’t visit or bother to call.
      Nobody expects the sun to rise and set around the Grandkids, after all Grandparents have raised theirs but a little bit of effort and interest doesn’t go astray.

      The worst Christmas present I received, hands down, was from a ‘friend’ who gave me a 3 tiered brass photo frame. The only problem was, that she forgot I was there when she opened it up on her 21st four months earlier. “Oh!! Wow, this is just like the one you got for your 21st…What did you put in yours?”. The look was priceless.

    • k.marshall says:

      11:48am | 18/01/13

      Ask to put it up in her house so when you visit you can see your children . Thank heavens for military constant shifting. The number of times they lost , or damaged presents was disgusting. smile  There is always a corner you can display all of your mother in laws works of art ?  Otherwise, take them up and put out only when she visits. You are ‘trying’ new things on the wall to see what feels good, or just need a change of vista..
      Get the dog to pee on them ?:)

    • Judo says:

      11:52am | 18/01/13

      Hang it in your bedroom - the one room in the house she’s not likely to go into.  Invite her in to look at it, then take it down and store it.  No hurt feelings.

    • Troy Flynn says:

      11:57am | 18/01/13

      This article had me immeadiately thinking of the Big Bang episode where Amy had a portrait of her and Penny done and it was hideous. Can’t recall if they showed us how she got rid of it.

    • Borderer says:

      11:59am | 18/01/13

      Accidents happen every day…. I remember a seashell koala that got knocked on to the floor and shattered into a million pieces…. at least it did after I stamped on it a few times….

    • Knemon says:

      12:05pm | 18/01/13

      “burn your house down to save face?”

      In light of recent events, that’s a rather poor comment.

      Have you ever heard of impressionism or cubism? Van Gogh and Picasso portraits were nothing like their subjects, that didn’t make them any less valuable or meaningful!

      Appreciate what your mother has done, you never know, one day they may be worth millions, you will certainly appreciate them more once your mother has departed. If it was me, they would take pride of place in my library / smoking room.

    • NSS says:

      12:30pm | 18/01/13

      Oh gosh. Your Mum went to the trouble of painting your daughter and gave the result to you as a gift and you’re sneering at it. Frankly, you sound like a spoiled brat. You don’t have to display it prominently but would it be any skin off your nose to give your Mum a little joy, even if her skill isn’t fantastic? I bet it was done with love. Maybe you could show a little in return?

    • SKA says:

      12:42pm | 18/01/13

      Put it in your daughter’s room - I’m assuming she’s probably still young enough to think it is cool?

      On that note, my grandfather used to give paintings to my folks. He actually was a good artist but the paintings weren’t really a style matching how my parents decorate… they never hung the pics and Pa never asked… but then maybe men just don’t ask about gifts? Maybe it’s more women who will ask about and be offended?

    • gof says:

      12:50pm | 18/01/13

      Just use it as dart board! If mummy asks what are all the holes in her painting just tell her you wanted to see what the brat looked like in her acne stage.

    • Torys' Mum says:

      01:30pm | 18/01/13

      Tory, how could you!?  I’m so upset that you couldn’t just tell me directly that you don’t like my art.

    • Lafée says:

      01:41pm | 18/01/13

      My mother in law does longstich kits, frames them and lovingly awards them to her offspring.  Awful doesn’t begin to describe them, but I actually have three up on the walls, mainly because it makes my husband - who has the artistic sensibility of a floorboard - happy to have reminders of his dear mother around.  They don’t bother me any more; I think I stopped seeing them after the first few years.  As Dostoevsky said, man is a creature who can get used to anything.  In this sort of instance, it’s not that hard to do.

    • Philosopher says:

      02:47pm | 18/01/13

      you make them sound like the weird hanging stick figures those poor kids stumbled upon in the Blair Witch Project.

    • Vicki PS says:

      01:54pm | 18/01/13

      Personally I find it hard to fathom how someone could even find this a dilemma.  It’s your mother, it’s your daughter!  Hang the damned picture and be happy for what it is, an expression of your mother’s joy in learning something new and her love for you and your daughter.

    • LJ Dots says:

      02:32pm | 18/01/13

      I like this.

      In her later years my mum took up pottery. That asymmetrical, lop sided, weirdly bulging clay pot with bee sting stripes that I got for my birthday is still in our kitchen holding loose change, rubber bands and paper clips.

      I use it every day and even now, it still gives me a smile.

    • Gordon says:

      04:29pm | 18/01/13

      Know the feeling LJ Dots. Mine took up politics, and each year at tax return time I come over all misty-eyed.

    • Vicki PS says:

      01:54pm | 18/01/13

      Personally I find it hard to fathom how someone could even find this a dilemma.  It’s your mother, it’s your daughter!  Hang the damned picture and be happy for what it is, an expression of your mother’s joy in learning something new and her love for you and your daughter.

    • Bitten says:

      02:17pm | 18/01/13

      This might be slightly OT but am I the only person who find the whole ‘It’s the thought that counts’ philosophy silly: what if the ‘thought’ in question is bad? What if it is, in fact, simply thoughtless? What if all the thought put into such a gift is “I’m awesome, my skills at painting/needlepoint/crochet are awesome, and so what if they don’t like it, I’m awesome and my awesomeness is all that counts and I’m going to give this thing to them so I can bask in the glow of gratitude at my awesomeness”?

      Giving a gift should be done with thought, great thought, no question. It should be about the person you’re giving it to, not about you and your ego. If you consistently give a person a gift that they don’t like/don’t use, doesn’t that say something pretty shameful about how well you know them and how considerate of them you are?

      Just food for thought smile

    • NSS says:

      03:00pm | 18/01/13

      More food to the buffet, Bitten. (haha, this is making me hungry!). What if Mum truly believed that her daughter would love it? What if she believed she was being very thoughtful and her ego played only a minor part, ie pride in her work?

      There is reciprocal responsibility on both sides of gifts The giver should do their best to give an appropriately thoughtful gift, agreed. However, the receiver in turn should accept gifts with grace. I admire the Japanese on this one. They are masters of the art of not offending in this manner. That’s what gifts are all about. It’s not about ego, it’s about thinking of the other person.

      Hmm. Perhaps both Mum and daughter here are guilty to some degree of the sin of “me, me, me”? Interesting.

    • Philosopher says:

      03:22pm | 18/01/13

      I was wrong about you, Bitten… you now remind me of Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz. Skip, skip, skirt twirling, singing songs, laughing and dancing.

    • Bitten says:

      03:41pm | 18/01/13

      Nom nom NSS.

      Eh. If I give someone a gift and they make the funny present-I-hate face, I don’t think they’re selfish, I just think I cocked up and will have to do better next time or discreetly give them the receipt at some point. 

      My pleasure in giving is the enjoyment the receiver gets out of what I gave them. So if they don’t like it, I want to know about it and I want to fix it or do it better next time.

    • Bitten says:

      04:36pm | 18/01/13

      “I was wrong about you, Bitten… you now remind me of Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz. Skip, skip, skirt twirling, singing songs, laughing and dancing.”

      Hmmm…I’ll be honest dear, the attention is odd and I don’t think you’re as good at cross-thread virtual smackdowns as you think you are. It’s sort of a weirdly ironic mix of an attempt to infantilise me with the image of a cute little girl, by referencing an actress and a film I’ve never seen because, well, I wasn’t born in the 1950s. Or 1960s. Or 1970s…

    • Philosopher says:

      05:17pm | 18/01/13

      actually I was being ironic.
      More like Sarah Connor?

    • Bitten says:

      05:30pm | 18/01/13

      Ironic? No. Sarcastic? Possibly.

      And the reality is you don’t know anything about me. So you don’t get to project what you ‘imagine’ me to be like by putting words in my mouth effectively because I will always point out the things you say that cannot be credibly inferred from my posts, mmmmkay? Sorry to be an interwebs buzzkill Philospher. On the other hand bring back logic, rationality and effective argument/counter arguments in response to things actually written, not things you wish had been written so you could slam someone as a 2D stereotype, and I’ll be your dancing partner smile

    • Gordon says:

      04:14pm | 18/01/13

      Buy your mum a calligraphy set and order a nice new chequebook for her to practice on.

    • Frida Kalo's daughter says:

      04:24pm | 18/01/13

      Boy, I wish we’d kept more of mum’s hideous paintings. The punters pay a fortune these days..

    • Neil says:

      04:56pm | 18/01/13

      Re-gift it, but don’t. Because I still feel guilty about the one time I did that.

    • crafty penguin says:

      06:29pm | 18/01/13

      You have obviously been accepting these gifts for so long it would be hard to stop now. Your mother in law puts a lot of effort into these gifts, even if they are rubbish. As a crafty person, I only give handmade items to people I really value. Perhaps you could offer to buy her some art classes for her birthday and she might improve! Or someone else will tell her straight up.


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