My Father-in-law has a habit of taking my kids’ (3-year-old son, 2 year-old daughter) toys from our house over to his house; It has happened several times. I first noticed it a year ago when I gave my son a Hot Wheels track for his birthday, complete with an automated launcher. It only came with one car, and he didn’t have many at the time, so I bought a collection of about 40 used Hot Wheels cars online.
Over the next few months, I noticed the number of cars slowly dropping, and every time we had enough motivation to clean, we would always find a handful under and behind the furniture. So I never gave it a second thought until I mentioned to my wife that it seemed like we didn’t have as many cars as we used. She told me that her dad had taken a few to his place, ones that, according to him, “Didn’t fit in” (Whatever that means).
It happened when my son was invited to a birthday party for one of his friends, and they had that “Guess how many blocks in the jar” game. My guess that I wrote down on behalf of my son, 64, happened to be the exact number of blocks, so he won them all. Again, I started noticing them disappearing over time, and again I assumed they were also finding their way down the backs of, and underneath, the furniture. But then, while at my in-law's house, I noticed that not only had my FIL taken a bunch of them; He had glued them together to make a boat. And he was pretty proud of it.
The time that bothers me the most was when my son got his first Duplo set. It was the “My First Emotions” set where you can build a family of people, and the faces and torsos are double-sided, so you can choose different emotions and poses for your people. I thought this would be a perfect tool to introduce and teach emotions to the kids. However, this whole set disappeared. Not only did my FIL build the people, but he glued magnetic strips to one side and mounted them on his fridge. And again, he was very proud of this.
Now here is where I feel like a petty, bad person. I know that he means well, and I know that he really is a good person and a fantastic grandfather, and my kids love him. My wife and I have gone through a long and painful journey with infertility, and he is as excited to finally be a grandparent as we are to be parents finally. So I’m not going to say anything; It’s not worth it, and at the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal.
But regardless of all that, it really does piss me off that he walks away with my kids’ toys. It was actually quite surprising to me how triggered I was when I first found out what was happening. We don’t have that big a place, so we often de-clutter, which often involves getting rid of toys that our kids don’t play with anymore, or ones they are starting to grow out of. We often show up to my in-laws with bags of toys that become part of his collection that the kids’ play with when they are visiting. He probably has more toys there than at home! I don’t care what he does with any of that stuff. But I feel it should be our decision what stays and what goes, and not his.
The closest I ever got to talk to him about it was when I bought a large collection of Duplo, and the seller lived very close to his house. He offered to pay for and pick up the Duplo. Soon after that, He and I were in his garage, and I was going through the Duplo to see what I got. I noticed that he had thrown in the “My First Emotions” stuff into this new collection. I proceeded to take these parts apart and tried to peel off the glued magnetic strips… mostly unsuccessfully and messing them. He helped me do this and commented about how tough the glue was to get off. (face-palm!) I badly wanted to say something but didn’t. I can’t think of a way to bring it up. It’s turned into a funny little power struggle because he feels no guilt taking the toys back from his house, which I do every time I notice something missing that shows up at his place.
I’m not looking for advice; I just needed to vent this. My wife is also annoyed by it, so she may have a better chance than I of talking about it at some stage, but for now, I’m not going to pressure her into saying anything.
I’m sure it will keep happening, so I’ll have to pull up my big boy panties and get over it. But I don’t have to like it…