The birthday card showed a pile of tomatoes spread across a table. All were the same except for one that rattled with those googly eyes they sell at craft stores.
"Son I got you this Birthday card because it's just like you … different from all the rest!" the message read inside. "Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo," added Kimberly Garrity.
Typical mom behaviour, right?
Wrong, say two grown children who included the card as one exhibit in an exceptional lawsuit that accused Ms. Garrity of "bad mothering."
Steven Miner II, now 23, and his sister Kathryn, now 20, have spent two years hounding their mom, seeking more than $50,000 for "intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress." One of the lawyers representing them was their father, who is also Ms. Garrity's ex-husband.
The list of purported wrongdoings was extensive: The daughter spoke of a mother who haggled over the price of party dresses and had the audacity to call a midnight curfew during her homecoming celebration. The son complained of a dearth of care packages when he was in college.
As for the tomato card, it was "inappropriate" – there was no money inside.
Mercifully, an Illinois appeals court dismissed the brats' case last week. A ruling in favour could have opened "the floodgates" and exposed childrearing to "excessive judicial scrutiny and interference," the court wrote.
The father, Steven Miner, insisted that his children were not attacking their mom's mothering but merely sought "accountability."
"Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different," he wrote.
Ms. Garrity's attorney wrote that the "litany of childish complaints and ingratitude" amounted to "the ultimate revenge" from a harassing ex-husband. While she did still love her children, Ms. Garrity now understood they sought "the benefits afforded by a family relationship, but none of the restraints."
If kids are suing over cheesy cards and curfews, what kind of civil damages might other, more legitimately traumatized children seek as a fitting retort in adulthood?
One blogger at Chicagoist suggests the belt is in order ; what do you think these grown children deserve? Would you ever sue your parents?