Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh, brother

I'm a bit cheesed off with my brother right now.  It started the weekend we moved in.  The movers delivered everything on Friday, and understandably he had to work.  But instead of coming over on Saturday to help (keeping in mind that this was for his 71 yr old father with Parkinson's, his 63 yr old mother with a not-100%-successful knee replacement, and his 35 yr old sister with pretty significant medical restrictions of my own), he decided to spend the day with his father-in-law, helping him with his model trains.

I can't be the only one who thinks that's shitty.

Since then he's come by probably twice a week on average.  One Saturday he helped us move some stuff to storage.  One evening he helped us buy TVs, and one night later that week he helped us set them up.  (This is more or less what he does for a living.)  Every other time he's come by it's been to hang out, eat a meal that my mother fixed, and go home.  With the exception of the one Saturday and the night we bought the TVs, these have all been nights of his choosing.  No one is demanding his presence.

Once he had plans to take my father to a meeting, which he cancelled last minute.  Dad tried to go by himself.  My mother was terrified the whole time because Dad's night driving has really gone down hill in the last six months.  (I don't know how much longer it's going to be before we're going to have to take away the keys.)  Dad was back home about 20 minutes later.  He knew which intersection he was supposed to be at, but he somehow ended up in the wrong place anyway.  When he couldn't find the building he just came home.  So Dad had the pleasure of being dumped last minute by his son, feeling like crap because he couldn't find a place that he should have been able to find with no problems, and missing a meeting he was really looking forward to.  What was my brother doing that was so important?  Dinking around at church.  And again, no one asked him to make these plans with Dad.  It was his idea, and then he backed out.

Earlier this week he came to dinner and announced what the Christmas plans would be.  Mom was not happy about them, and she questioned him.  In the past, the story has always been that since his MIL's birthday is the 24th, it was super important for them to be down there for Christmas Eve.  She had expected that they'd go down for the 24th and come back to spend Christmas day with us.  Nope.  Just the opposite.  We get Christmas Eve (although they won't be going to Christmas Eve service-- the most important thing for my dad-- because his wife doesn't want to) and an hour or two Christmas morning, and then they're driving down to spend two and a half days with her parents.  Mom, lacking input from them up to this point, had started making plans based on what she thought they might want to do.  The in-laws, on the other hand, were consulted, and my brother and his wife made their plans based on what worked best for that side of the family.  When Mom pushed back on this, questioning the plans, my brother told her that she needed to learn to "compromise".  Excuse me?  I thought compromise was two people sacrificing to come to a mutually acceptable solution.  I'm pretty sure it's not one side telling the other side to shut up and take it.

The next day I called him for something completely unrelated, and the topic wandered into Mom and Dad.  (Mostly Mom, because she does all the talking for the two of them, so she's the one he resents the most.)  I let him know that his making plans and not keeping them was upsetting Mom and Dad.  (He'd also made plans to have dinner with us last Saturday night, knowing Mom was going to make her annual Hanukkah meal (ie: piles of yummy yummy latkes!).  She had announced that she wanted to make the meal and let him pick the night that was best for him.  Then he backed out to go to a party.)  He said he considers all plans tentative.  What that says to me and Mom and Dad is that he's willing to make plans with us until and unless something better comes along.  He's mad that we aren't perfectly fine with him dumping us.  He thinks we should understand that "I will be there" really means "I'll think about it."

There was some other stuff about how he has a life of his own, and he didn't really want Mom and Dad (and presumably by extension, me) moving here.  (Buddy, if you think I want to be here, you've got another think coming.  I hate Indiana.)  He doesn't think he should have drop everything any time they call, and that they should be doing more stuff for themselves. 

Never mind that they kill themselves trying to do stuff before breaking down and asking, and when they do they always fall all over themselves assuring that it works with your plans and schedule, never mind what works best for them.

What I didn't say, but wanted to, was: "They came here to be close to you, you little ass wipe.  If you didn't want them here you should have spoken up sometime in the last year or so, since that's how long you've known they planned to retire here.  And they wouldn't ask for your help (not that you can be bothered to follow through and give it) if they didn't really need it.  They've started hiring people to do some of this stuff because they're sick of waiting for you to get around to doing what you say you're going to do."  Can you tell I was pissed?

I did a lot of deep breathing last night, and watched a lot of Christmas specials, and eventually I calmed down.

Today I emailed him to warn him that if he was thinking about getting Mom an oven thermometer for Christmas (she's been talking about it A LOT for the last few days) that he might want to hold off, because she was talking about getting one this afternoon.  Also, I asked for his Christmas list again.  (Before we moved into deeper waters in our conversation yesterday, he'd told me he was making a list at an online musician's store.)  The guitar place he likes to shop at is running a sale this weekend, so why pay more next week?  He emailed back that he'd already sent us his Amazon list (he did, it has 7 items on it, 5 of which are expensive electronics), and other than that all he wanted was gift certificates to the guitar store.

Right now I'd like nothing better than to tromp over to his house in my steel toed boots and kick him in the taint.

Am I totally off base here?  Am I being way to sensitive here, or is being a real little shit?


  1. Uh, obvs. option 2 there, honey. I am so sorry that your brother is acting very inconsiderately of his parents.

    And, um, rude personal comment: how is this person sustaining any kind of marriage to an adult (evidenced by mention of in-laws)when he acts like an entitled twelve year old in need of a smack upside the head?

    I'm glad that your parents have you to care for them and listen to them, but it has to be so hard for you knowing that you must do so alone, since he cannot be counted upon and is choosing to behave like a selfish poopyhead. Unless he mends his ways, I send him holiday wishes for a disgustingly bad cold and unfixable toothache (preferably the kind where the people in the ER say nothing is wrong and maybe he's delusional). Is that harsh?

    Hugs, baby.

  2. You noticed that I didn't really say much about the SIL? That's because I've only set eyes on her three times in the six weeks that we've been here. They've been having marital problems (caused in part by her bad behavior), and she's afraid that we'll be mean to her.

    I can't excuse what she's done, but you're right. If he acts like this much of an entitled twit within their marriage, it's not a surprise they're having problems.

    I'm trying hard not to hang on to my anger with him. He's my brother and it's Christmas and all that jazz. But it upsets me to watch him put his parents at the very bottom of his priorities (unless he has nothing better to do and wants free dinner).

    I haven't lived in the same state with him, or had much more than the occasional phone call or short holiday visit, in 15 years. So I don't know if this is a new development with him or he never outgrew the obnoxious teenage years or what. Dad said something the other day about how he's been bad about promising and delivering for years-- he'll say "I'll call you back in 10 minutes" and they won't hear from him for two weeks. So this may not be a new thing so much as a change in degree. He's neglecting them in person instead of over the phone.

    I wish we hadn't moved here, and not just because it's cold and I hate Indiana.