Uncomfortable, useless, petty arguments

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Some people seem to have a talent for this: Asking one to make an argument he does not wish to make.

    A couple of brief examples:

    • It's not that I don't want to spend extra time with my daughter, but the first time I picked up for her mother for a dart tournament, it was a one-time thing. But, apparently, while she was out that night, she enrolled in the league, and surely enough I've found myself called upon regularly to pick up that period, as it was presumed that I agreed to it permanently when I agreed to the one-time occasion. And, really, what, am I going to say, "No"?

    • As I depart for the evening to hang with my kid, I don't really have any objections, although after all these years trying and failing to communicate with Mama J, I just wish that she could for once lay an excuse on me that isn't problematic. Okay, I understand that an old friend is in town. Indeed, I talked to the old friend about why she couldn't get hold of J. Fifteen minutes later, J called. Now here's the deal: I would do it anyway, but J offered me a sweet deal, so I took that. But ... well, the thing is that the babysitter fell through, but the babysitter is also the one J is going to see later to get the, uh, bribe she offered me. So the babysitter couldn't make it over to babysit, but can make it out to drink. Like I said, I don't mind hanging with my kid for a few hours tonight, especially since I'm going to see her tomorrow, anyway, but I just wish the story I was given would be straight. After all these years, I haven't set lawyers after J; I'm not about to start. What is so goddamn hard about the simplest explanation, e.g., the truth? What is so hard about saying, "The babysitter wants to come along and is offering you a treat if you can do it"? Especially when the answer to that is, "Um, well, duh. What time do I need to be where?"​

    I don't like having to nitpick when the subject is my daughter. But at the same time, I am uncomfortable with the fact that even when there is nothing at stake, J can't seem to give me a straight story.

    Anyway, it's probably nothing, and in a little while I won't care, anyway, and I'll think of this all again the next time it comes up, so you can ignore this minor rant or actually try to find something useful in it.

    I'm out.
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  3. desi Valued Senior Member

    Start saying "No" and this stuff will stop bothering you.
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  5. draqon Banned Banned

    maybe you should read a book on a girls' mind, figure out all the hidden messages behind the context. Or hire a consultant to understand and decode the messages of J.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    This and that

    I wouldn't disagree in theory. Practical reality is a little more difficult.

    Example: A couple weeks ago, it was my mother's sixty-fifth birthday. My brother wanted to take her out to a place we couldn't take my daughter. J said she could take our daughter for a few hours. We were, of course, a bit late getting back; it was the Met, it happens. And, of course, compared to the nights J asks me to watch or daughter, and then doesn't come home at all? Anyway, we're generally accustomed to minor schedule deviations. For some reason, this wasn't possible, I guess. So J set out with a bunch of friends, took the kid with her up to Everett in order to get to the bar earlier, and then put my daughter in some random "friend's" car to be driven back to Mill Creek, and meet us in a grocery store parking lot. I think of friends I've had for years, as opposed to a few weeks, with whom I've shared a lot more than drinks and pills, and I can't think of anyone I would put in that position.

    My point being that saying "No" doesn't mean jack shit to her. She will find a way to get what she wants, and if it ends up getting our kid hurt, it will be too late to take it back.

    Life goes on, and occasionally I whine about it just to get it off my chest.

    • • •​


    • A book on a girl's mind? What do you suggest, Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? Maybe, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Confessions of a Shopaholic? The Second Sex?

    • A book on deviant psychology would better suffice.

    • I don't need a consultant, as I've nearly fifteen years of dealing with her code.​

    She needs therapy. The thing is that she is a chronic, if not compulsive liar. She lies when there is nothing at stake.

    I didn't care why the babysitter couldn't make it. But I noticed because nothing made sense. Because the babysitter, apparently predisposed, was also suddenly included on the agenda for the evening out, but I was also advised that she might be stopping by.

    And I'm not even going to start in about the methad— ... oh, right.
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I think you have to be realistic here. What leads you to expect any such courtesy after all this time?

    [and yes, the reality is difficult because it is hard to let go of expectations of rationality]
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    And life goes on

    I think it's more desire than expectation. Only ... eleven or so more years of this sort of bullshit to go. I'm in with my daughter for life, but I figure my obligation to give a damn what her mother thinks ends on the child's eighteenth birthday.

    But I would hate for it to come to that.
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I would recommend that you consider the investment with her mother to be for life as well. We can choose the people we have children with [not always wisely and sometimes to the detriment of the children] but we cannot un-choose them, unfortunately. It may be best to approach the situation as one in which you either sit on the pot or get off. There is no halfway resolution to this one.

    Think about it this way, your daughter is stuck with her for life
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Life should not be a curse, no matter what the Buddhists might think

    I try not to think about it that way because it's a grim thought, and my daughter's life should not be a curse.

    Principle, reality ... I just hope I don't accidentally teach her to expect either of us to be perfect.
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Its hard to separate the things children learn from their parents from their eventual personality [i.e. what they learn from their parents]. I find it helps to have a sense of humor about it. Its so much easier to deal with amusement than irritation. Inevitability need not become a vehicle for frustration if it is anticipated
  13. Gustav Banned Banned


    they do not have to be taught. thats the default mode till they are weaned off it.
  14. kenworth dude...**** it,lets go bowling Registered Senior Member

    i wouldnt try to teach them either,the moment when i realised my parents werent "my weird freakish parents" and just actual people i felt a horrible sense of detachment,kids dont need that much objectivity
  15. Bells Staff Member


    Something about that line disturbs me.. Please tell me the babysitter is also not the supplier? Actually, no, I don't want to know.

    Anywho, as to the rest of it..

    You don't need to go to lawyers. Get some mediation, as in professional counselling that is designed specifically for people in your situation (eg. separated couples with children) and try to come to some form of agreement and pattern for the care and custody of your daughter.

    From your posts, it seems that your daughter is like a yoyo between the two of you. While it is good to be flexible, your child would also probably appreciate some form of stability and knowing where she is meant to be and when. Putting your daughter in friend's car who may or may not be stoned or drunk.. that's not stable. Dragging her back and forth so that the mother's social life can continue, that is not stable. And for God's sake, don't ever let your daughter hear that you'll look after her or that you've been "bribed" with a treat from the babysitter, to look after her. I don't think I need to tell you why.

    Your child does not think you are perfect. That notion probably went out the window when she turned about 3 or so.
  16. PsychoTropicPuppy Bittersweet life? Valued Senior Member

    Gonna write something even though I've got no clue about your life

    So..she basically tricked you? Looks like J knows your weaknesses all to well..and can successfully rely on the fact that she'll receive an answer like that from you : "Um, well, duh. What time do I need to be where?" I think you're too kind, or phlegmatic, but I can imagine that if it was me I'd probably feel uncomfortable if I'd say 'no' and then wouldn't know what she'd do with the kid..so I'd end up saying yes. I wonder if it's a good idea to let the mum take care of the child..doesn't seem like the kid has that much priority in her 'social life'...
  17. desi Valued Senior Member

    If you don't set up boundaries then there won't be any and she will use you. If the mother is as irresponsible as you say then take the time to document her shenanigans with a lawyer and sue for custody. Let her choose the nonsense over the kid and eventually she will let the kid go. Otherwise you enable her to drag this on.

    edit: I know a guy who did this and now has full custody of his daughter.
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Notes Around

    Not quite, but probably not much better.

    Mediation won't work. The question is how many thousands of dollars of other people's money either one of us is going to spend in order to win a fight. And the answer is, presently, none. Mediation cannot work without honesty, and that, more than anything, is the underlying question.

    She's generally not a political instrument between us. Those days, hopefully, are over. Indeed, as the married barfly she's been dating for a few years now proves to be less stable, intelligent, and fun than her romantic fancy had presumed, she's mellowed out some.

    Generally speaking, there is some stability to the pattern. Barring catastrophe, her time with me is consistent; as to her time with her mother, she's accustomed to that pattern. And, as I work toward reintegration with society—a harder task than even I would have thought—it will be good for her to be accustomed to some sense of transition. Not that I would want her to actually be a yo-yo. But the only reason she gets so much time and patience from me is that I'm available. When I start conducting myself like other responsible people in society, she's going to hop around between Mommy, Daddy, and grandparents even more.

    To the one, I don't consider her mother stable.

    To the other, family is family. Even if I thought I could win, I would not be particularly keen on dividing the family in order to conquer. Such plans would have at least as much chance of backfiring as the present course.

    The question is whether and when her mother will destabilize to a critical point, or whether that catastrophe occurs in my daughter's presence. That's a huge risk calculation, and one that drives me nuts to do the detail work on.

    But as age and mortality catches up with us, Mama J is mellowing and stabilizing. That's the really strange thing about the phenomenon. My armchair diagnosis after all this time is simply that she is neurotic about self-judgment insofar as she denies her faults even to herself because she cannot stand the image of her own human frailty.

    Thus, I'm more frustrated with her chronic—if not compulsive—dishonesty. She lies when nothing is at stake. The danger signs of her instability are becoming less frequent, although they do tend to group together a bit. Between the stunt with the friend and the latest twist in her black-market pain management, yes, I'm on a mildly heightened alert, but as far as I can tell, the days of coking and getting so wasted that she sleeps in her car in a parking lot somewhere are over.

    My image of my father ruptured when I was six. Things never were the same again. I cannot help whatever notions she develops within her own mind, but I keep my fallibility on display insofar as it's fair game for her to ask about.

    I mean, I was twenty-five before I found out just how turbulent my parents' marriage actually was. They were afraid to show certain weaknesses in front of my brother and me.

    • • •​

    I wouldn't go so far as to say "tricked". I mean, it's not like I didn't see it. But, yes, she prefers to try to play me in certain ways, and in the end, if it comes down to actually competing, or any other such notions, I'm the one who's there when Mama needs to go play darts.

    And, hell, it's not like I don't play Mama J occasionally. I mean, I bought theatre tickets a couple weeks ago, but didn't go to the play. As much as I want my daughter to have an experience with drama, I just couldn't stand the thought of sitting through two and a half hours of Annie. I mean, there are plenty of other factors, but the truth is that at no point did I actually want to see this particular play. I would have gone if Mama had to work, or something, because I know this play meant a lot to our daughter. But ... come on. You've got a parent who knows all the words to the song and sings along with you, and a parent who is getting you theatre tickets so you can have the experience of going to the theatre ....

    I forget what I actually got out of it. It involved bourbon, at least, and waking up on a friend's futon in the spare room. Which I probably would have done, anyway, as it was Mama's week to begin with.

    • • •​

    This relationship is now in its teen years. It's a bit late to try drawing those kinds of boundaries. Besides, it never worked, anyway, with anything else in our association. I'm just doing my occasional vent about the stupid controversies that need not be.

    I'd rather have Mama J healthy, but that's a long-term project. I will not be the one who teaches my daughter that sort of abandonment. Mama hasn't raised the danger level to the point where I have no choice, so until then ... hope for the best and pursue it as genuinely as possible.

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