Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dancing to a fine tune

I have two sisters, I'm in the middle. My baby sis' is much younger than me, my big blister is far older. Maybe it's because of the age gap we remain close. Or perhaps being raised by lunatics made us circle our wagons tight.


Either way, despite the busy lives we have to tend, on the rare occasion we do manage to sit under the same roof, it is always a quality, funny and replenishing time. Big sis' lives on the mainland, she flies over to visit with us only for one week a year. It's precious - and exclusive - husbands and children be damned, this is supposed to be our time. Sure, we'll make small talk with the clan, but it's only token, we're treading time to take off to the beach, or to slip out for lunch together - fact is it hardly matters where we go, so long as it's a safe place away from prying ears, a place where we can gossip, cuss and remind each other of our glory days. Frivolous, flirtatious, and outrageous, we laugh ourselves silly into mascara panda's, returning home damp-knickered and endorphin high to plot out our next day ahead.

Which is why I am so pissed off that my niece has lumbered us with her son, yet again.

The poor kid is alright, but being young, he's demanding, and like most six-year-olds, totally all-consuming. As an only child, he loves an audience - we don't get a minute's peace.

We can't get tipsy, I have to disappear when I want a smoke, and his ears are constantly flapping. I resent the hell out of him cramping our style. We've served our time, including sitting his own mother. It's just not fair! This is our turn.


Well, I mean, we can't exactly drag him along to the Comedy Club, to the Pub or even to the cinema with us, now can we? (Well, not to the kind of films we happen to like.) Forget a sitter, he's welded to his Gran's leg - if she so much as picks up her coat to leave he fusses and frets like hell. As she has been the only constant in his life, you can hardly blame him. (Oh, I'm sure he'd settle eventually, but the thing is, sis' wouldn't. The night would be ruined anyway.) And he won't as much even look at regular food, if it doesn't come with ketchup, chips and spaghetti hoops, just forget it. His doting mother doesn't stretch much to home cooking. He never stays in bed at night, yet he's up and about jumping for his cocoa pops by 5am (or so it feels). Worse, my lot have usually discovered this aforementioned sugar fix and scoffed it down by then (deprived bunch), resulting in us all waking to the dulcet tones of a full blown melt down.

Bless, eh?

"So," I hear you ask, "Why don't you simply have a talk with your big sis', tell her how you feel?" Because I love her, her other little sister loves her too, and the both of us know she has no choice but to take him along. Our darling niece sees to that.

Selfish bitch.

Where to start? She was an adorable kid until her family fell apart. Yes, blank slates are written upon, and mistakes are made - she wasn't born bad, but she sure as hell turned out that way. Big sis' has been paying the price forever since. I've lost count of the amount of blokes her grandson has had to call daddy. He even had a step-father for three whole months (his gran picked up the bill for the full white wedding and first class honeymoon to Venice, babysat him for the entire duration, and is still paying off the debt for the brand new house and furnishings her daughter - unemployed at the time - coerced - nay demanded, she sign up to). Yes, you may be right that sis' has made the rod to break her own back, but it's far too late to shut the stable door, the horse has long since bolted.

J hasn't one maternal bone in her body. Pregnant at 17, she put the wrong name on the birth certificate and claimed maintenance for the first two years (until the paternity test). My sis', (re-married), happily let J and her grandson live rent free with her and her husband for the first two years, placing her relationship with her second husband under a considerable strain. J spasmodically resumed her studies - she actually qualified as a teacher this year. In the interim, she dragged home a string of violent drug addicts to shag, used sis to raise her child, and hurled abuse and threats she would take her son away and disappear forever, should sis' dare to attempt to lay down any ground rules. The police were always at the door, the house often trashed. It was an absolute, pure living hell for everyone.

J is her only child, and J's father walked out on them when J was only five, sis' has always carried the guilt of that around, made excuses for her. Both my younger sis' and I have tried to be there, in fact both J and my big sister lived with me for a couple of years in the early days. But in reality, we all finally settled in different towns and our actual contact thereafter was spasmodic. When J acted out as a teenager, I took her on holiday with us to give my sister a break. It ended with us chartering a flight to fly her home again. Cost us a kings ransom, but we had no choice. She was completely out of control, and I truly feared for my children.

Sis' knew to seek help for her, and she did. Nothing seemed to work.

And, of course J is a master at hitting the right buttons to get what she wants from her mum. Although she has somewhat cleaned up her act, since moving out she still relies on her mum to bail her out and to virtually raise her son, sis' still works from home solely to support the pair of them.

This visit over here is my sister's one and only break, to come over here and to chill and relax. But J? She simply sees it as a golden opportunity to have a child-free week (she has a new man in tow). The sad truth is, my sis' is afraid to leave her grandson behind. J will do as she darn well pleases, regardless of whether he's there or not.

It's unnatural to detest someone of your own flesh and blood with such a vengeance, but so help me God, I honestly and truly could happily throttle this little cow.



Akelamalu said...

Oh God, I was getting so mad reading this!

Your sister would be better off adopting her grandson and cutting her daughter off completely. Maybe if she suggested it the said daughter might realise what a total waste of space she is. :(

Shrinky said...

She would never agree to that, Akelamalu, so long as she has her son she has power, and access to a meal ticket for the rest of my sister's life.

mrsnesbitt said...

I have no brothers or sisters....Thank God! lol!

jinksy said...

Oh, dear! I hope you find a good place to scream without the shrink wrap, this time... :)

Anonymous said...

One week alone with her sisters, is too much to ask of a self-centered, out of control brat of a daughter.

Leslie: said...

Oh man, I know of similar situations! I guess "J-types" are all over the world taking advantage of their mums, aunties, and sundry others. I hope the little guy grows up with some semblance of feeling loved and wanted. Try looking at it from a 6-year-old's point of view. Maybe simply loving him is the only thing your sis (and you guys) can do for him.

Scott from Oregon said...

Got Rope?

Maalie said...

Anyone thought of counselling? There seems to be an issue of 'control' here. There are some excellent guides to assertiveness training around - it saved my life in a former age :-)

Flores Hayes said...

a great find for my 7yr old panda fanatic!
my princess won’t put it down!!!

jay said...

I know J types. I know several. They do. not. change. Just as long as people are willing to dance to their tune they'll screw every last drop of charity out of you. I would ask your sis one question. If she doesn't put her foot down now, stop being the bottomless pit of help and assistance, and teach her daughter some self-reliance, what will her daughter do when she is no longer around? By which time, J will be older and less attractive and perhaps less able to sponge on men?

Oh, there is a second question, perhaps more important. I know she and you are both very concerned to protect the little boy, but if you allow him to grow up watching all this happen, isn't he going to learn by example and maybe get into the habit of living the same way, using the same survival strategies?

I know these things aren't set in stone, but it's worth a thought, no?

Sorry your time together was ruined. :(

Shrinky said...

Oh Denise, I couldn't imagine growing up without siblings, they enrich my life endlessly.

Jinsky, I did - in here! I feel so much better for my rant..

Got it one, Chewy. Shrug.

Leslie, yes, thankfully his gran adores him and does all she can to reinforce how loved he is. There is little contact between myself and him, only when he comes over. My heart breaks for him.

Scott, don't temp me! Grin.

Maalie, thanks for that suggestion. All the counselling and help sis sought out earlier was geared around what she could do to help J, it didn't address things regards the power balance (which I agree, there appears to be an issue with here). The problem is, my sis IS a trained counseller (please don't laugh). Part of her training involved two years of therapy. Sigh.

Flores, if you cared to read my post, you would realise your advertising spam/comment is ridiculous. Kindly go away.

Jay, oh sweetie you have touched such a raw nerve here, yes, I agree 100%, in actual fact, my big sis and I have had numerous conversations around this. She has made a will leaving everything to J, but is fully aware that will be frittered within a year. She worries sick what will become of the both of them when she is no longer around. J is an only child, and her father is long gone, she ailienated her step father years ago. J will be left to twist in the wind, family or not, she is not my problem. Hard as it was to spell this out to my sister, she is aware J has a rude awakening ahead. Sadly, I want little involvement with her son, he comes at too high a price.

Daryl said...

WOW I am ticked off just reading this and I dont even know J .. having been away at a blogfest which ironically had no wireless connectivity .. I have a lot to catch up on ..

david mcmahon said...

I have no sisters.

Mushy said...

Should have seen me trying to find you in the picture..."in the middle"! Ha.

If you kill her...send pictures.

SJ said...

Now you wont do anything drastic like tie her up in a dingy dungeon and torture her till death will you? I know you wouldn't. ;)

Her type is actually quite common maybe not that extreme but quite a few people like that abound.

Casdok said...

Oh dear, so sorry to read this all sounds a nightmare.

Brian Miller said...

a sad tale indeed. the things we do for family. congrats on POTD.

Cynthia said...

So difficult to be in this situation, and I think every family has one. It doesn't matter if you have train counselors, social workers, or whatever...there are so many influences on children, peer, society, and their own way of reacting to situations that might be called 'nature'.

Sometimes you just have to focus on where you can make a difference, and take care of your own children. It doesn't make the hurt any less but you sometimes have to give where it can be received. Thanks for sharing your life.<3

Maggie May said...

Congratulations on POTD.
I love the way you write.
I am very sorry for the situation you find yourself in.
I used to long for a sister but now I'm not so sure!
Families! Who would have them!

TechnoBabe said...

Your sister needs to go to Codependents Anonymous meetings, get a sponsor, and work the twelve steps. The work will be for herself. She is so unhealthy. Neither you nor your sister can "change" the neice, but your sister can get healthy.You, on the other hand, are soooooo healthy to be able to speak openly about your anger and disappointment. Good for you.

Sandi McBride said...

I suppose it's just a case of a mother not being able to accept the worthlessness of her child, if there is worthlessness at this time, perhaps she will pull herself together one day...I hope she will...for the child's sake as well as your big sis's! Congrats on Post of the Day!

Hilary said...

Poor kidlet.. so much potential that may never be realized. The answer lies with your sister though. Unless and until she puts her foot down and calls some of the power shots that are associated with her purse strings, it'll never change. She needs some sisterly tough love of her own. I'm sorry it put such a damper on your time together. Congrats though, on post of the day. :)

Daryl said...

Back to say Congrats on the POTD mention ...

introspection said...

Came over from David's. Congrtulations for winning POTD. Though I can hardly congratulate you on yr situation. Hope POTD gives you some high from the damp situation you are in

jay said...

Congrats on POTD, Shrinky! :D

Shrinky said...

Welcome home Daryl - no internet connection? Arghhh, I would have gone insane!

Ah David, you have been cheated, my friend.

Mushy, you are the only one to spot that, it made me smile! Ah, I hope not to get close enough to her for that..!

sj, she is a user, and yes, sadly you are right, she is not alone.

Thanks Casdock, it is for my sister, and it is that which breaks my heart.

Hi Brian, it is a sad situation, but hope springs eternal, perhaps now she is qualified she may begin to learn to stand on her own two feet (tho I won't hold my breath).

Yes Cynthia, there are times you must accept certain people choose to live their life in a crisis. This is the choice they have made, and only they can alter that (if they so wish to).

Oh Maggie May, I wouldn't trade having my sister for the world (her daughter, now..)!

TechnoBabe, I've never heard of this organisation before, it sounds a wonderful place. Perhaps I should find a few leaflets from there and leave them lying out? Smile.

Hi Sandi, she starts her first teaching post in September and is moving to the other side of the country, (once she is settled) the new man is promising to join her there. My sis is worried sick.

Hilary, writing this post has helped me a lot, the reponses have been thoughtful and some of the suggestions may prove useful when I see her in a couple of weeks. Wish us luck!

Hello introspection, thanks for stopping by - and yes, it has (smile).

Thanks Jay!

Ellee Seymour said...

Six-year-olds really sap your energy. I count my blessings that I can now drop my 16-year-old off at the golf course and he is happy there for the day.

Shrinky said...

Ellie, I'm with you, I have four teenagers under the same roof now, and they are EASY compared to the earlier days (I'm exhausted just thinking about it)!

PRH....... said...

I've got a new name for yer blog..."

"Shriky's Rants and Raves" or maybe just "The Shrink Rants" :)

Shrinky said...

Aw, c'mon Pat, even you have to admit I am no where near as bad as I used to be, eh? (Sheepish grin)

Suldog said...

Oh, Shrinky, we've got a similar situation, in some ways, happening in a part of our family, so I really, truly can empathize a bit. Luckily, we're not saddled with care of any children, but we share in the worries, etc., so...

Anyway, I certainly hope things work out well, and you - and your sister - get some peace.

By the way, "mascara pandas" LOL :-)

Shrinky said...

Suldog, I guess most families have one somewhere along the line, eh? Smile.

Les Becker said...

Yes, God, throttle her. She sounds like one awful excuse for a human being...

Nancy said...

Hmm from a family science point of view I would have to say the mother needs to set boundaries, or just live with the consequences. I guess that decision has already been made.

I can remember telling my children, during "those" times, that they would respect me because I loved and respected them, or they would respect me because I made them. Either way, I was the oldest, and possibly meanest, and I would have my way.

They tried and tested, but never went too far. Now they are grown and wonderful. Boundaries are a necessary thing with your children, you really don't do them any favors by not setting them. They are simply too young to be able to do it for themselves. And the end result of not doing it is your niece's lack of respect not only for your sister, but for herself, and the rest of her family.

Okay - off the soapbox.

Shrinky said...

Hi les, hahahaha, methinks you and I are on the same page, here, eh?

Nancy, writing this made me realise how resentful I am of my niece foisting her offspring onto us on the only week we get to spend together, and yesterday I finally grasped the nettle by the thorn and phoned my sister to discuss this with her (as diplomatically as I could).

Her visit is only two weeks away, and the flights etc., have already been booked, not to mention a little boy looking forward to his week at the seaside. That's fair enough, but she has promised this year will be the last time she brings him (and completely agrees with and understands how we feel). From next year she is drawing a line in the sand - a result! (Smile.)

Marypoppins said...

I'd be afraid to leave him home, too. You are wonderful for accommodating him.

Your venting was world-class. Good writing. I certainly sympathize.

You might consider finding a local teenager, someone you know well, to entertain J. The teen could visit alongside all of you until J feels comfortable and involved with the teen and the teen's interests. (Teenagers look so cool to younger kids.) Then you might get a night out or an afternoon away. Who cares if he sees aunties come home a little tipsy? It should be good for him to see you all happy and giggly and not walking on egg shells around him.

It's worth paying a fee to the teen for his/her time. Maybe you can work in a family trip to an attraction including the teen.

We've done this with our spoiled only child when he was small. He thought he was having a better time than we were!

Anna said...

Oh God Shrinky! BTW I am in the middle too, sometimes feel like referee, lol. Despite of all the troubles, you are good writer Shrinky. Anna :)

Shrinky said...

Hi Marypoppins, actually I have four of my own teenager's living under this roof, but this is the thing, they do tend to take up the babysitting duties, and they are fed up to the back teeth with it (as family, it isn't something they should expect to or receive payment for). I have told them I will NOT be asking them to sit for him this year, they have their own lives to enjoy, and it isn't fair to expect them to drop everything to look after him.

I've spoken to my sis, and this will be the last year she will be taking her grandson along. Smile.

Hi Anna, aw, thanks for that! It helps to sometimes vent, writing this seems to have worked things through, as I finally built up the courage to raise the subject with my big sister, and to talk it through with her.

San said...

Believe me, Shrinky, it's the most natural thing in the world "to detest someone of your own flesh and blood with such a vengeance." Hell, girl, did you not know that's what family's for?

Shrinky said...

Oh San, you have me laughing, yes, I guess you are right on the mark, 'tis so true!