Do you have “rules” about how hand-me-downs should be treated?
Some people claim that once you give something away, you can’t control what happens to it. But one mom disagrees.
Until recently, she was giving the clothes to a neighbor with three daughters. She wrote that the neighbor “does not work and money is tight. When my youngest daughter outgrows something, her oldest can start wearing it. Sounded good to me.”
I don’t know what kind of monster just rehomes— NAY! ABANDONS—their precious Janie & Jacks without thoroughly vetting the recipients of such a precious gift. For shame.
So the mom gave the neighbor a large assortment of hand-me-downs. But first, she provided a few notes on how to care for them:
I told her I “baby” these clothes. I am meticulous about stains, and they have never been in the dryer. These clothes looked perfect.
Unfortunately, the neighbor didn’t have the same approach to clothing care, and the clothes weren’t perfect when the mom saw them again:
The next time I saw them, I was almost in tears. They were completely trashed! Her [daughter] was eating a horrid blue ice cream cone smeared all over a $100.00 outfit. I have never seen her kids wear it again, so I’m sure it is ruined. Made it through two of my kids and not even the first of hers.
Now, the mom has a conundrum. She has two boxes of nice “upscale” clothing that her daughters can’t wear anymore. While she could give them to the neighbor again, she’s not happy about how they’ll be cared for:
Part of me says give it to her and help her out. But if I have time to hang, steam, press every outfit, then she could too.
The commenters at Sanctimommy weren’t sympathetic to the mom in question. Several found her attitude condescending and made light of it.
Others questioned how she had time for such rigorous clothing maintenance.
In general, I’m the kind of person who keeps clean laundry in baskets scattered around the bedroom. (Not only don’t I hang, steam, and press outfits, I barely fold them.) However, I do know what it’s like to give someone nice baby clothing and have it not remotely appreciated.
Yeah, that stinks. You feel like you did something nice and you want that recognized. You’re proud (probably wrongly, but still) of your nice gift, and you think anyone who appreciated it would treat it with care. Heck, I feel that way every time I buy my kids new clothing and then find it crumpled on the floor.
The mom needs to get a grip. Kids are agents of destruction, and not every parent has the time, energy, or inclination to run around after them, keeping them clean. With some kids, that’s not even possible. I have one child who — as a toddler — endlessly bumped into things. She ran face-first into a tree once. I gave up on trying to keep her looking neat once she learned to crawl.
If pressing, steaming, and hanging things is your fetish, then knock yourself out. But it’s not fair to expect everyone to do the same. That’s the thing about gifts. Once they’ve left your hands, they belong to the giftee to take care of or neglect as they please.
If the mom really can’t stand seeing her girls’ old clothing abused, she can try to sell, consign, or donate it elsewhere. Or she could recognize that this is her problem, not the neighbor’s, and remember that you don’t get extra credit in the afterlife for being more diligent about laundry. I hope.