Blabber Stylist

by admin on August 31, 2015

A few months ago, I was back in my hometown, visiting my parents. My mom and I went to her local hairdresser for some girl time one day. While I was getting my hair cut, the stylist’s assistant (who spent the whole time talking about very personal subjects) mentioned seeing her brother. The stylist was surprised they’d seen each other, as the assistant and her brother didn’t get along well. He seemed to be the ne’er-do-well type who only comes around when he wants something. The assistant replied that their mother hadn’t been doing well lately, and she was concerned that she may die soon. And as unpleasant as her brother is, he *is* family, and she couldn’t imagine grieving for a parent without him. When their father died, it was heart-breaking, had brother not been there to comfort her, she’s not sure if she’d have been able to keep it together. She just didn’t know how only children could handle it when a parent dies, it’s cruel to do that to someone, that’s why she has two children. She wouldn’t want to subject a child to suffering through the death of their parents and then being all alone.

At this point I should mention that I am an only child. I was born long after my parents stopped “trying”; they thought there were going to have a childless life when I was born. It was a hard pregnancy for my mother, & she was in her forties. After I was born, there was no question of there being another child – I was it.

As the assistant is going off on her monologue about how hard life is for only children, my mom is sitting there, looking down, upset, clearly unhappy (side note, my mom is the middle child of three sisters).

When the assistant stops to take a breath, I calmly say that *I’m* an only child. And that it never occurred to me that I’d be more upset when my parents die, because I’m an only child. And I’m not about to start speculating on something like that now.

After a long, awkward pause, the hairstylist changed the subject. The assistant spent most of the rest of our visit being rather…sullen.

As much as I love my mom, I don’t think I’ll be returning to the salon with her. I know she loves her stylist, but I hope the time she spends with the assistant is at a minimum.

Was my response to the assistant rude? Or just about right?   1204-10

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Feel Good Friday – Tractor Syncopation

by admin on August 28, 2015

Clever use of a vintage tractor engine for the “drums” in this musical compilation.  Happy, upbeat music to end your week.

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I was reading the post “Your Hospitality isn’t needed but your Muffins are”, and it reminded me of what happened several years ago. When my daughter was younger, she went to the same daycare for about four years. The first year I invited everyone in her class to her party. (Invitations were put with the children’s belongings a month in advance) One parent RSVP’d and showed. The next year, (hope springs eternal) I invited everyone and a few RSVP’d and showed. (I promptly RSVP”d to every invitation my daughter received, and always brought a gift, or sent one when we weren’t able to attend.) The third year, no RSVP’s and no shows. After that I gave up, but something interesting happened a few days after the party. (I was fine with no one from the daycare being there; I had plenty of family and I always have plenty of food, and we had a blast.)

I had a message, garbled and obviously from a child on my voicemail at home. It was obvious that the child didn’t speak English well; all I could make out was something about cake. I shrugged it off. The next day, there was another message, still garbled but a little clearer. This child wanted some of the birthday cake that was left over! Thinking back, I had a pretty good idea who this child was. At the last party of another kid in the class, this kid had eaten nonstop and we all had to wait for him before we had the cake. His dad was there, and ate even more than he did. I thought, surely I’m mistaken. No way did this parent not RSVP or acknowledge this party in any way then have the nerve to allow their child to call me wanting the leftover cake.

Well, that’s exactly what happened. After the third message, I got the number off the caller ID (message was again garbled and from a child) and called. I spoke to the father and he openly told me that yes, his child wanted some birthday cake. Not one word about missing the party. Obviously they had my number; they could have RSVPed! After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I calmly told him there was no more cake left over and hung up. Good grief.   1114-10

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Greetings, EHell.  Thank you for helping me learn to be a polite adult.  I write with yet another mother in law story.

Some background on the family: the four siblings are not close.  Two of them have been condescending about our career choices and corresponding salaries, so we’re content to be with people who accept us for who we are, not what we earn.  We make polite visits a couple of times each year and shake off the comments; the rest of the time we’re happy with the life we’ve chosen and made together.  It’s never fun to be around snobby people, so we limit our time with that part of the family.

Dear MIL often has visions of family harmony that don’t correspond to the rest of the family’s hopes or desires.  Thus she makes plans that the family can’t fulfill to her expectations. I don’t think she’s malicious in her intent, just epically clueless.  She has made insensitive statements about finances, forgetting that my husband and I have chosen service careers (ministry and education)  that keep our tastes (and vacations!) much simpler than hers.  Never has she spoken outright rudely, it’s more that she forgets that not everyone lives the same life she does.

Her latest request highlights this perfectly.  She and her husband will celebrate their 20 year anniversary in a couple of years.  They want the entire family to convene on a tropical island (four kids, spouses, ten grandkids).  She called everyone with this idea and asked that we start saving so we could afford to come. “It’s her dream”, she told us.  They offered to pay for the anniversary dinner, though, once we arrived at said island. (Gee, thanks?)   She skipped the step between dream and planning: asking the rest of the family their inclination.  Instead of this being a family discussion, two people decided what everyone would like and asked the rest to start saving.

Thanks to this site, I could see this several ways instead of simply being slack-jawed.  It reminds me of wedding invitations where the guests are asked pay for their meal, or where cash requests explicitly adorn party festivities.  If one plans an event in an expensive location, one must expect some to be unable attend due to the cost rather than requesting a major budget overhaul to make something happen.

I’ve never heard of this dynamic before, though I do come from a family with more modest vacation and anniversary traditions than MIL.  My family of origin brainstorms reunion locations together, and the places we choose honor various incomes and tastes.

We’re going to decline on budget reasons, and will go into more detail if pressed. It doesn’t feel right that I point out to my MIL that her request was tacky.  It’s unlikely that my friendly SIL will go with her family either (they want to save for Disney).

I’m always impressed with the level of clueless behaviour from this side of the family. This one caps it off for me, though! 0202-15

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Vacation Hell

by admin on August 25, 2015

I will preface this story about my sister with a little information about her family and parenting style. She is married to a man that she treats like a doormat and has three unruly children (boy age 13, boy age 9, girl age 12). Her approach to parenting is to keep her children happy at all costs. Her husband is not allowed to discipline his own children. I respect this as her own decision, however when it affects others around them that’s where I draw the line. Restaurant eating with them can be quite trying as her children ruin each others meals with the salt and pepper, climb under the tables etc. My irritation about this was reinforced when my family (myself, husband, boy age 12, boy age 10) took at 3 day vacation with them over Spring Break to an indoor water park/hotel resort. The meals went as I predicted. If they wanted to stay up all hours playing video games that’s what they got to do. I then look like the bad guy as I enforce a decent bedtime for my kids (11:30pm as opposed to 3am). Thank goodness we didn’t share a hotel room.

A new problem has now cropped up. Every summer for the past 6 years, my husband two boys and I have gone to a resort town in our state and stayed at the same motel for 10 days. The motel is ideally situated near all the attractions and activities in the area. We have made acquaintance with a few of the regulars that are there at the same time. Really it is the only motel suitable for our needs, as it is family oriented and a lot of other nearby motels host younger partying types. Last summer my sister and her family decided to try it out for themselves, going at a different time than us. They had a wonderful time. While there she called me and asked if they could join us the following year for our annual vacation. I responded with “sure, but I’d prefer it if the two vacations overlapped one another by about 3 days. We do enjoy our private family time.” She agreed.

Fast forward to this spring. Last week she called me to confirm that her family will be sharing the entire vacation with us. I responded by reminding her that we had agreed that the vacations should only overlap by a few days. She then threw a fit that “all she was trying to do was get the cousins together for a great vacation”. My husband works 12 hours a day 5 days a week. This is his only vacation. He is not interested in spending the whole time with my sister’s gong show of a family. I feel he was being a good sport about not making a fuss about the 3 days. I mentioned to her that I needed to keep my husband’s enjoyment of the trip in mind too and that ideally we would prefer a low key quiet vacation with our kids. She doesn’t think this is a valid concern. My husband has a set 2 weeks of vacation time that he has booked off work. Others in his office have also booked off time; therefore he is unable to change it. The thought of all 8 of us on a wine tour makes me shudder. My children have been taught from a young age how to behave in various social settings, hers have not. I don’t want to trade off child care with her so she and her husband can get away from the kids.

My remedy for this problem has been to shift our vacation to start a few days later and end a few days later. We would then have the original 3 days together that I was wanting to begin with. I’m wondering if I should tell her now or wait until a day or two before the vacation is due to start to break the news to her. 0524-14

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“Any job, pounding a plane or selling shoes, is as important as you make it. If you think it’s not important, whatever it is, you’ll soon become bored with it and do it poorly. To enjoy your work, you need to find something more than money. You need personal satisfaction, pride of accomplishment, a sense of importance to others, whether it’s a part-time job after school or a lifetime career.”

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Feel Good Friday – Badpiper Thunderstruck

August 21, 2015

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Woman Runs Marathon Without Tampon…Discretion Be Damned!

August 19, 2015

We seem to be on a theme here lately. This LINK takes you to a story about a female athlete who ran the entire London Marathon without wearing a tampon on her first day of her period. I, for one, am not inspired by the appearance of body fluids, particularly blood, to promote various social […]

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