The Dark Side of Presents

We all spend a lot of time and thought on finding that “perfect gift” that the lucky recipient will be in raptures over and we do it numerous times a year for various loved ones. It’s exhausting! But no one mentions the ugly step-sister of the “perfect gift” – the “revenge gift”.

Depending on your commitment, the revenge gift can take longer and even more thought than the perfect gift. My eldest brother and I have been in an escalating arms race for several years. It started innocently enough (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) with oversized water pistols for the kids. It was a guerrilla attack that I wasn’t expecting, but chalked it up to panic buying in a pre-Christmas rush. The next year was Nerf guns for two still quite young boys. No 3 year-old needs access to a pump action dart firing machine. After my husband nailed me in the back of the head several times while laughing maniacally, it was game on. Needless to say, I was armed the following Christmas with plastic and lots of it for his kids, the bigger and tackier the better. He still one-upped me with a remote controlled helicopter for my six year-old, box stating in large letters “AGE 15+. THIS IS NOT A TOY”.

This last Christmas, I think I won – a remote controlled car/hovercraft/helicopter that had to be constructed first, served with a chaser of remote controlled hot pink Barbie convertible that required a C battery, which we all know cannot be obtained on Christmas Day. I don’t know what I can do to top that, except maybe a small pony.

The revenge gift does have the advantage of being amusing, but in this war the only winners are the children and the true casualty is the parent’s sanity. I think this year, it’s time to stop the madness. Also, I won.

Getting angry

I don’t like getting angry. I’m not talking about “shouting at the kids” angry, which frankly, if I didn’t pull that out on a regular basis, my kids would be doing exactly what they want to do ALL THE TIME – namely, eating snacks naked while playing Wii. I’m also not talking abut the everyday irritations at a partner. I mean, who hasn’t looked at their partner of nearly twenty years, blurred their eyes and imagined a strapping young Italian named Eduardo who didn’t speak much English? What I mean, is getting angry at friends. They’re not like family, where if you make a mistake and go too far, they will eventually forgive you and love you anyway. Particularly with friends you meet at your kids’ school, these are relationships that you can permanently damage, and you can be guaranteed that their kids will be in the same classes as yours for the rest of eternity.

I was angry at a really good friend last week and really struggled to express it in a non-damaging way. My family’s method of fighting, which I try not to do, is to go on the attack and bring that person down – at all costs. The aim is to win the argument, regardless of the validity of either person’s viewpoint. So without that to go to, or my other, more useful go-to method of pretending it didn’t happen, I was really at a loss.

In the end, I stopped myself from saying anything at all for a week. By that time, I’d had hundreds of conversations with her in my head, sorted out what was going to help the situation and what was just my anger speaking. I didn’t f*** up my friendship, which was more important that the issue the argument was about. The adult within is proud of me, even though I didn’t get to use some of the serious zingers I thought up.


Last night I went clubbing. Yes, I really did. I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I think it was the visitors from out of town, who were ridiculously fun or possibly the jugs of cocktails but dancing seemed like a really good idea. I was having an outrageously good time and bulletproof, due to the aforementioned cocktails and the vodkas that kept materialising in my hand. Something about being out after midnight lets this magic occur. It only happens between 12 and 3am, when I’m usually asleep, so I generally miss the visits from the vodka fairy, but not last night. But alas, disaster struck. My body decided to remind me that I’m too old for bouncing up and down like a lunatic by letting my knee pop out of joint.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same again, but it was totally worth it. Not only for the fun night, but also the bonus bragging rights at the crack of dawn kids’ soccer game, where I attained serious cred for crashing out (literally) in a gay bar in the early hours of the morning and still showing up with the half-time oranges.


The most interesting thing for me this past week was doing Ethics Teacher training, where a large group of volunteers are taught how to bring the big ideas to the little people. Those of you who know me well know that I struggle to maintain the rage with most issues, but this one has stuck with me for a couple of years now, so I figured it was time to actually do something.

It’s been a while since I last thought about the big issues in a philosophically enquiring manner, where you set aside the emotion and explore the logical (very Spock-like) to reach highly improbable conclusions. I learnt a lot about myself, or more accurately, remembered how irritating I can be in the right circumstances, like when I argue a position to the death that is ultimately ridiculous solely for entertainment purposes. How I have such lovely friends is a mystery! Thank you to all of you for just rolling your eyes instead of hitting me over the head with a blunt object.

Fortunately for all the kiddies who will be in my class, I don’t get to insert my opinion and am merely there to facilitate theirs. I’m sure all our kids think we are crazy people, but it’s best not to have it confirmed at such an early age!

On another note, I’m counting down to the Big Book Launch on 25th March – only 23 days to go until the new one is released on unsuspecting relatives. Hopefully, it might be long enough to Christmas that time might have dulled their recollection…