We'd like that gift NOW, please
September 28, 2012 3:50 AM   Subscribe

Several months ago, for my partner's birthday, my MIL decided to gift us with an electric kettle. We were happy, because we had been planning to get one, and said as much to her. But then she couldn't find the "right one" (she's quite particular about aesthetics) and now the whole idea seems to have slipped off her radar. But the winter is approaching, we're making a lot of tea, and we would really really like to have that kettle. Do we remind her, buy it ourselves, or what?

She tends to be forgetful and puts off doing things. She's also emotional (and has mild depression) but very nice to us and I wouldn't want to offend her or send her on a guilt-trip. She visits occasionally so she's bound to see the not-bought-by-her kettle eventually.
posted by gakiko to Human Relations (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Buy the kettle. Your tea-drinking doesn't have to be conditional on the emotions and memory of someone who can't quite bring herself to do what she says she'll do.

I mean what is she going to say? "How could you betray me by buying a kettle?" That wouldn't be very reasonable of her.
posted by tel3path at 3:54 AM on September 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

Buy your own kettle. If she asks, just say "Oh, we saw a great deal on one at X and couldn't pass it up! Now, can I offer you a cup of tea?"
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:56 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Buy the kettle. If she buys a better kettle - and by better I mean boils water faster - then give away or eBay the one you bought yourself.
posted by parmanparman at 4:03 AM on September 28, 2012 [10 favorites]

One more vot for ... buy it yourself.
posted by Blake at 4:23 AM on September 28, 2012

It's great that you wouldn't want to 'send her on a guilt trip,' but you don't have control over whether she does that to herself, and it won't help to pretend that you do. She will be equally an equally troubled person whether you buy a kettle or not. But you'll be happier, so buy it.
posted by jon1270 at 4:43 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't agree. I reckon you call her and say, "Hey Mum in Law, I was just about to get a kettle but vaguely remembered you saying you'd like to get one for MsGaiko. I'm happy to get one because we need one pretty soon, but thought I'd double check with you that you haven't already got one."

Parents like to take care of their kids. And they forget stuff too. Give her the opportunity to do this for her kid. If she doesn't want to anymore, fair enough. But really, just have a very casual chat.

Also, you could suggest a different present if the kettle is hard for her.
posted by taff at 5:00 AM on September 28, 2012 [34 favorites]

Buy your own.

If she asks, tell her you forgot that she was going to buy you one. It's plausible because she seems to have forgotten this, too.
posted by inturnaround at 5:08 AM on September 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

My mother does this sort of thing from time to time, and she gets frustrated when we don't remind her. I agree with taff that it doesn't hurt to offer a gentle reminder.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:48 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Buy one for yourselves.

If she asks why you didn't remind her, tell her something along the lines of: "Oh! Walmart had it on clearance for like, $15, a while back so we just bought it."
posted by royalsong at 5:53 AM on September 28, 2012

I agree with taff to offer a gentle reminder.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:06 AM on September 28, 2012

Buy your own. If she asks, tell her it was a gift from a friend. Be your own friend.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:13 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

She could be me.
I would appreciate it if you would bring it up in an easy conversation.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:15 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

taff has it right. Follow taff's advice.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:21 AM on September 28, 2012

Oof, that's tough. Is she likely to take offense at a gentle reminder (my MIL would be!)? In that case, just buy one. If she notices, apologize profusely, all "oh my goodness I'd forgotten you said that I'm the absolute worst". If she doesn't notice and buys you one, just surreptitiously dispose of the one you bought.

If she's easy going, a reminder ala Taff sounds like a great plan.
posted by AmandaA at 6:23 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

The only problem with asking her about it is that it requires more waiting. There is a decent chance that she'll say "oh, yes, I am still buying you a kettle; don't do anything rash, like going out and buying one for yourself, now!" and then... three months in the future, you're still kettle-less.

Buy one, and if she mentions it, just tell her the truth: "We needed one right away, so we got this one" - and she will either offer to pay you back for it (this is what my mom would do) or she will get you a new gift. And if she does show up with a kettle eventually? Sell it on eBay, give the old one to a thrift store, whatever - and thank her for the lovely gift.

Child/parent relationships are not about buying stuff or receiving stuff anyhow, so don't worry too much about this.
posted by k8lin at 6:27 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Buy it yourself. It's less likely to guilt trip her than reminding her of her not-quite-a-promise promise.
posted by windykites at 6:31 AM on September 28, 2012

PS - Reminding my mom about that last point when she feels bad about something like this - not getting me something she said she would, or giving me clothes that don't fit, or something - really helps. I tell her that I know she loves me, and her getting me a kettle or a gift would be appreciated, but that seriously: her love and support means way, way more than a birthday present. I mean... she already gave me the day of birth itself, which is a pretty decent gift.
posted by k8lin at 6:34 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know about you but my office could really use an electric kettle too, so if you end up with two, take one to work.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:38 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

You don't know she won't bring a new kettle with her as a surprise on her next visit. You should speak to her like taff suggests.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:42 AM on September 28, 2012

taff's advice FTW.
posted by headnsouth at 6:52 AM on September 28, 2012

Buy the kettle. It's what, $20? If she asks - which I doubt she will - just say that you've been drinking a lot more tea than usual this fall and you'd remembered her recommending an electric kettle.
posted by dekathelon at 7:17 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask her about it, like taff said. Don't just buy one without at least mentioning it to her. Consider clicking around and coming up with a couple of "we saw a couple we liked just fine" options, in case she has a moment of feeling overwhelmed by the options but still wants to get a kettle for you: you'll establish what you're looking for, but still give her a choice, as well as demonstrate that you're wanting to move the project forward quickly.
posted by aimedwander at 7:30 AM on September 28, 2012

To add to taff's great suggestion, do some research and find one you think your partner would like. Then your conversation can be, "I found this great kettle, but I remembered that you wanted to buy one as a birthday gift. I think they'd really like it and just wanted to check that you hadn't already bought one."

Saves your MIL from having to go through the search again and makes it easy for her to respond by buying it.
posted by bonehead at 7:39 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

The easiest thing for you would be to buy the kettle. But the kindest thing for her would probably be to (1) pick one that's easily available on Amazon and then (2) call her to say hi, and in the course of the conversation mention that you saw the perfect kettle, wanted to check with her first because you didn't want to get one if she already had, and that it's on sale now and here's the item number.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Good electric kettles are expensive! A fast-boiling (3KW+) will cost an average of £24, or $40.
posted by parmanparman at 8:39 AM on September 28, 2012

Just buy it and mention it. It's a kettle, so it's primarily functional, and you're in need of its function. If this were, say, a wall clock she was buying you, I'd say hold off, because you can replicate its function in multiple ways, but nothing replicates the function of a kettle like a kettle.
posted by holgate at 8:47 AM on September 28, 2012

I know in my family it would be totally acceptable to say "hey, were you still going to get me that kettle? I don't mind buying one - I found a good deal on it now, but if you want it to come as a present from you, we would greatly appreciate it since we've been drinking a lot of tea lately!" There's a chance she just forgot. Maybe your partner has that kind of easy-going relationship with his/her mother and can ask her that? If not, then just buy it.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 9:30 AM on September 28, 2012

they're about $30-40, right? just buy one.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:45 PM on September 28, 2012

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