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A gift of glue: Its the thought that counts

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Laura Snyder

My two oldest sons are 26 and 22 years old. The next son is only 13. Regardless of the older boys’ unconscious attempts to place him in the "too young to mess with" box, the younger son is constantly trying to engage his brothers in conversation, in play, in harassment. Anything to gain their attention and ideally, their respect.

His obsession with wanting to be part of the big-boy club has led him to do some very bizarre things.

He plays practical jokes on them, places his sister’s naked Barbie dolls in their bed when they spend the night with us, and generally acts like a lunatic in front of their girlfriends.

He likes to engage his brother, the scientist, in exhausting theoretical discussions and his other brother, the computer programmer, in discussions about programming video games.

His latest attempt to secure his brothers’ regard and affection, and one that is likely to backfire on him, manifested itself in the form of gift-giving.

For Christmas this year, he gave the older boys a themed gift: Meat in a can.

One of them received a lovingly-wrapped can of Vienna sausages and the other opened his gift bag and pulled out a can of sardines.

I will add here that their preference for either can of meat was questionable since neither had ever tried Vienna sausages or sardines.

To be fair, he was trying to be funny on his dollar-store budget. Nothing else in the dollar store was worthy – so they got a can of meat.

His budget was so slim that he supplemented the rest of his family’s dollar gifts with a more personalized homemade gift: He made tiny glue globs with my hot glue gun and painted them with our favorite things. My glue glob had a butterfly on it. In this case, it certainly was the thought that counted. I definitely won’t be re-gifting this little… um, bead… paperweight… whatever.

For his brother’s birthday, he got even more creative. With his Christmas money, he bought a bright green and yellow dinosaur piñata and stuffed it with soup: cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, packets of Lipton instant soup.

Yes, that kind of soup. We videotaped the whole thing.

My daughter was no gift-giving slouch either. She gave him a small bundle wrapped in polyester fiberfill. After he unwrapped it, he was holding what he thought was an old piece of ABC gum - something you might find on the underside of a table in a diner.

"It’s a mushroom!" she announced. "I made it with clay."

"Oh," he said, relieved. "Thank goodness."

About 15 minutes later she brought him another larger bundle wrapped in a sweat sock. It was another clay creation: a coffee cup, she said.

She whispered in his ear that he shouldn’t actually pour coffee in it or it will melt. "And don’t put any other liquid in it either."

Here again, you had to reach to look for the thought behind a cup from which you can’t drink.

How can these types of gifts fail to endear them to their older brothers?

I had always worried about the age gap between them, but as it turns out, the younger ones know instinctively how to handle it.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit her website www.laura onlife.com for more info.

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