I had kids well before my older brother did, so that meant he got to be the “fun uncle” for many years.
We lived apart – my family was in Florida and he was in Washington – but he’d show up frequently, cheering the kids on at soccer and Tee-ball games and lavishing them with gifts on birthdays and holidays.
One Christmas, the gift he sent for my 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter was a drum set. Yes, you read that right. While it didn’t have a bass drum with a pedal, and no cymbal, it was still a set of drums that you sit in front of and hit with drum sticks. The noise potential was code red.
On Christmas morning, while the kids were distracted with other gifts, I gave my husband a wink and hid the drum set under our bed. “They’ll forget about it,” I told him. Problem solved.
We apparently forgot about it, too. Because it was a few years later, when we were packing up our house to move cross country – where we’d live near my brother in Washington – that I discovered the unopened drum set.
It made the move with us and I gave it to my son, who was 6 and entering first grade. He was really into music at the time, and even performed in the school talent show that year. The drum set was in his bedroom, along with a portable key board. He could play to his heart’s content – with the door closed.
After a couple years, my son lost interest, so I packed the drums away, storing it back under the bed. Because I had plans. At this point, my brother and sister-in-law had just had a baby boy – my first nephew! I was finally an aunt, and by golly, I was going to be a cool one.
I waited until my nephew’s 4th birthday until I brought out the drum set. I’ll always remember the “You’ve got to be kidding me” look on my brother’s face when I carried it into his living room, fully assembled, with a bow on it. It was even better when I reminded him that it was the same drum set he had given my kids. Practically a family heirloom.
My nephew is now 8 and my sister-in-law told me the drum set had fallen apart so she gave it away. But he clearly got some good use out of it. And it remains the best revenge re-gift and parenting payback I’ve ever made.