[Warning: This is a LONG post.]
I've been missing for days now. I really don't know why.
Oh, I could recite all the reasons my time is not my own: we've been away on vacation at the lake (without a computer), I've been SOOO busy at work (thankfully that resulted in me being close to caught-up!), I haven't really had anything much to say...
But the real reason is that I had a HUGE fight with my sister last week.
Several weeks ago I decided I wanted to take my nephew out to dinner, just the two of us, to talk about him going to college. He's a strapping almost-18-year-old, chronologically, but emotionally he's a bit younger.
I told his mom I wanted to do this and it was okay with her. Then she called me to "tell" me not to lecture him, that he has a mom, that he needs a friend (WTF? I'm not his friend, I'm his aunt!), that he doesn't need lectures from me, that I should just keep the conversation light. So I agreed; in the past she's been very disturbed by the fact that I love him like my own, to the point that she's told me (and my mom, too) that she's the mother, we're not.
Anyway, I picked him up and the first thing he says while fastening his seatbelt is, proudly, "I cut off a bus yesterday."
Well, let's preface the explosion of my head with this little factoid: he hasn't had his license for a year yet and he has 6 tickets and 2 points on his license!
So from his house to the diner, which is about 3 miles, I ranted at him about being careful, that he was lucky he wasn't hurt, that he needs to be more cautious when driving, that he has to worry about the other drivers probably more than I have to worry about his driving... His very dismissive response was, "I wasn't hurt, Cioci."
No, you weren't. THIS TIME. What about the next time you do this, and there's a car in front of that bus cutting him off the other direction? You'll be in the hospital!
Finally we got to the diner and he asked me why I always yell at him about his driving... which led into another discussion, but eventually we changed it to college. I told him how I really screwed up my freshman year's grades and that it's impossible to get out from under a D/C average, and about all the parties I went to, and how proud I personally am that I've never been drunk or done drugs, that I can say it to my children honestly, without lying or bending the truth, and we talked about choosing classes, and my crazy roommates and his roommate N from some town in NJ I've never heard of and how he hadn't called him yet and how his mom has been shopping for stuff for him and how he can't wait to get out of the house and away to college (a whopping 15 miles or so from home! which could be another blog posting...)...
Did any of that sound like a lecture? I asked him for his campus address so his aunt (me!) could surprise him with a $50 bill once in a while... His reponse? Paraphrased, he basically said sometimes he doesn't feel like he deserves people to do anything for him.
He's not even 18 yet! How can he feel so down on himself? So I told him how much I loved him and that he deserves all the good in life, and while I don't expect him to feel a sense of entitlement, that actually deserving the good things is rewarding in itself, that he should most definitely earn those good things I hope go his way... He's not even 18 yet! He should not be feeling so beaten down!
And then out of the blue, "Y'know, I don't want to offend anybody, Cioci, but I liked it better when Mom wasn't dating T." Now I like my sister's boyfriend. I really do. I was a bit perplexed as to how to handle this so I went for the tried and true: the honest approach.
I asked J if he liked T and he said he did, that he was "cool." So it's not a personality conflict with the boyfriend. Then my nephew looked up at me and said he just wished his mom would spend more time with him.
So the tried and true thing came around again: I told him that even I missed his mom, that we used to commute together, work together and talk all the time, that if I hear from her by email once a week now, that's a lot, and that I miss her to, but that I was happy she had someone decent in her life... J's dad came up in conversation, too, when J told me he had no male influence in his life. Yea, you do, J, you have your dad, your grandpa, your Uncle J, and T, too. And I'm sure if you opened yourself up to it, there were probably many teachers over the past few years who have had an influence on you...
The only thing I said about his dad, and I must say I bit my lip HARD, is that a) my sister and her ex were happy at first (a slight exaggeration, but...) but it just wasn't enough to last, and b) that if he was in front of my car right now I'd want to run him over for what he's done/not done for my nephew and my niece but that I wouldn't 'cause I knew J wouldn't want his dad... broke.
What part of any of that could be construed as a lecture?
To top it all off, when we got him home, we sat in the car in front of his house for about a 1/2 hour, laughing and talking.
J went inside and I went home.
An hour later my phone rang and my sister said she just wanted to thank me for ignoring her wishes and lecturing J.
I tried to respond and she started screaming at me that my nephew came home, went into his room, and is sitting in the dark in his underwear.
So? It's 10:30 at night, where should he be???? (Oh, wait, I forgot he came in at 1:15am the night before!!!)
She flat out refused to let me speak, said she "knew" I'd been lecturing J 'cause we sat in the car in front of the house for a 1/2 hour.
I started trying to talk and she just got louder and louder and angrier and angrier, and so did I, until finally I screamed at her that maybe J was just upset about her dating T and that he brought it up out of the blue...
WELL. That did it. It was like she morphed into a fishwife (no offense to the fishwives reading this blog!). She went apesh-t! Screaming at the top of her lungs at me, cursing. I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call the police on her.
So I screamed back. I hung up. Called her back. She hung up. I called her back. She screamed more. I hung up again.
Finally I waited a few moments. Then I called her back and calmly said I let her yell at me for 45 seconds and she owed me 45 seconds to tell her about our dinner. And I did. Verbatim. And you all know I can recite things back, word for word. (I may not have ever learned my organic chemistry but I can recite conversations back to you from 25 years ago!!!)
And just in case some of you are wondering if I'm re-writing history here... Since my dinner with my nephew, HE HAS CALLED ME FIVE TIMES. That's 5 times more than he's called me in the last five years. So how angry or hurt or disturbed could he have been by our dinner conversation???
And to make things worse, my sister is still pissed at me for not yet having bought my niece her b'day present. It was her Sweet 16 last February and I wanted to get her something special. My sister doesn't bother doing a b'day for her kids anymore (and I hate her for that!) so I didn't see my niece until 2 weeks later. We went to a few jewelry stores; she wanted a cross and chain but all we found that she liked was in the $300-$400 range and that was well outside my budget! So I told her to call me when she was free and we'd go and shop some more for her gift.
She didn't call. And I called every month to ask when she could go: "Just let me know, A, when you can go out for dinner and to shop for your necklace." "Ok."
My sister said she made sure to drop my b'day present on my front porch and that's the least I could have done for my niece. Yea, sure, the next time you spend $200 on me, leave it on my front porch!
I took my niece out yesterday, and she got a $260 electric guitar. She's changed her mind about the necklace. Which is part of her Christmas present 'cause that's way more than my budget, too. So on the way home I suggested she ask her mom to stay home and help her carry the big box upstairs... So I saw my sister and we were civil to each other. Hopefully we can ignore the big angry elephant in our relationship and move on...