I’m on quite a roll this week. I noticed that yesterday’s headline got a lot more clicks than usual. I suspect today’s headline will also be provocative for some readers. I hope there’s more to today’s post than just a funny title, but we’ll see.
First, a little old business. I wish to update yesterday’s post about men peeing while sitting down. It seems that one Irish Times Facebook commenter from Ireland was quite put out that I wrote, jokingly, that German women “train” their men to sit down when they pee. He told me that was “absolutely false”. And yet, there’s a book written about the phenomenon, signs in public (and private) restrooms, and lengthy threads on social media platforms and message boards about how German men are expected to sit down when they urinate. I probably should have added a caveat that they sit if there isn’t a urinal for them to use.
Now, this topic actually isn’t that big of a deal to me, personally. I just think it’s kind of funny and interesting. I don’t insist that Bill sit down when he pees in the toilets at our house. He voluntarily does so sometimes because it’s easier for him. But I don’t actually care either way if Bill sits or stands, as long as he cleans up after himself. He’s very good about that, so this isn’t a subject that we discuss very often, except for when we see the signs in public men’s rooms and laugh about them. Below are just two such signs.
I’ve never seen this anywhere else but in southern Germany…
I posted the link to the book called German Men Sit Down to Pee. That was the end of it, as far as I was concerned. I went on about my day. Hours later, I got a notification that the Irish guy had come back. He left a comment along the lines of, “I see you weren’t able to ‘prove’ that German men are trained by their women to sit down to pee.” Then he added a link to some article about this topic “proving me wrong.”
The Irish guy caught me at the end of the day, so I “laughed” at him and wrote something akin to “Nah. It just isn’t that important to me. I just know what I’ve seen in many years of living in Germany.”
In fact, I was already over the subject hours earlier, so I hadn’t even read his “challenge” to prove that German men sit to pee. Men sitting down to pee was not really what the Irish Times article we were referencing was about, anyway. That article was a classic example of a headline being too inflammatory to actually get people to read the article. Everyone was too busy commenting on the title, instead of reading the op-ed that followed.
You’d think that would be the end of it, but no. This guy is apparently very triggered by the idea that a woman might dare tell a man what to do when he pees. Again, I don’t do that to Bill, because he cleans up after himself. That’s honestly all I care about. But the Irish guy obviously needed to have the last word on the subject… or, perhaps, the last piss? 😀
I didn’t bother to read Irish guy’s next comment. I think he’s a little psycho, and continued engagement with him might encourage me to further “take the piss”. 😉
Now, on with today’s fresh topic… SEX!!!
Today’s featured photo is a screen grab from the hilarious short film, “Laid-Off: A Day in the Life” by Odd Todd.
I’ve noticed that the God page has really gone downhill, lately. A lot of pages on Facebook have gone away from posting fresh, insightful, thought provoking content. Instead, they post endless “am I the asshole” posts from Reddit. I’m getting a little tired of that trend, myself. However, sometimes they do post some pretty funny AITA articles. This morning, I saw one that made me laugh. Behold:
It should be mentioned that the original post was removed. I don’t know if it’s because the answers this guy was getting about his “problem” were too embarrassing and humiliating, or because of Reddit’s spam filters. I didn’t read a lot of the responses to this post, because frankly I was too busy laughing. In three paragraphs, this guy has basically stated the following about himself:
He obviously thinks he’s a great lover and his wife isn’t a match for his virility.
He obviously thinks she’s not very attractive to other people. Or, he did until she started having sex with other men.
He’s selfish and entitled, and he thinks he “owns” his wife.
He lacks communication skills.
Sex is the only thing that is important to him in a relationship.
Other men know how to treat his wife better than he does.
He’s jealous and immature, and thinks his needs are the only ones that matter.
He’s a loser who’s about to be served with divorce papers.
He’d really like to watch his wife with other women.
She actually does want to have sex. Just not with her husband. I can’t say I blame her.
What does this clueless guy have in common with the Irish guy? On the surface, maybe it doesn’t sound like much. However, on closer examination, I see a certain similarity in their attitudes. Both guys are a bit overbearing, and obviously think women are beneath them.
The Irish guy acted like I owed him “proof” of the veracity of my offhand, joking comment about German men sitting down to pee. He was surprisingly insistent about it, continuing to try to engage me, even when I wrote that sitting down while peeing isn’t that earth shattering a topic and I don’t think it’s important enough to argue about it with a stranger from a strange land. 😀
The immature guy in the Reddit post obviously thinks that he doesn’t have to adhere to the same expectations he has for his wife. This comment pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
“When I asked for her to also sleep with women or I’d want to close the marriage again she rolled her eyes and said no. One of the guys I fear is trying to seriously date her. He brings her flowers and food, pays for her nails and never even acknowledges me when he’s over. I feel like she’s dismissing my feelings and I’m getting frustrated. I want to close our marriage again.”
Um, guy,… maybe she felt a little “dismissed” when you said that after five years of marriage, she’d already given you all she had to offer, and though it’s “not her fault”, you expect to be allowed to have sex with other women at will. You “generously” ask to open the marriage and she generously obliges. Somehow, you are are shocked when she has more sex than you do… with other men, because she is “bisexual”, after all.
This guy doesn’t mention being interested in having sex with men. He’s apparently not bisexual. He doesn’t mind participating in sex with other women or watching his wife have sex with another woman… or women. He was clearly hoping she’d find him another woman with whom to get his jollies. Now, he’s basically accusing his wife of lying to him about her sexuality, because she’s been having sex with other men. He’s jealous, insecure, and frustrated. I’ll bet she can relate.
I don’t think this couple is going to survive unless he’s got something better going for him that compensates for being a totally insensitive clod. I hope she dumps his clueless, selfish, narcissistic ass, and hooks up with the guys (or gals) who treat her right. Life is too short for BAD sex. 😉
I’m glad that sex isn’t the only important thing in my relationship with Bill. Otherwise, we would have divorced a long time ago. Every day, he reminds me of why I love him so much. I could probably list a new reason every day without thinking too hard about it, but I think at the top of the list is the fact that he doesn’t just think of me as just a life support system for my vagina. Sometimes, when I read these AITA posts, I think that a lot of people are in very transactional relationships that aren’t based on love, friendship, or regard. How sad that is.
Well, it’s Thursday, so that means I have to vacuum later. I guess I’d better close this post and get on with it. Arran had his latest chemo last night. The vet was pretty sad to see that his lymph node is so big. He does seem more tired lately, but his blood work isn’t too bad at this point. The disease is progressing, but he’s in good spirits. I hate canine cancer. 🙁
I wrote a “mushy” post yesterday. It was because I realized how much more I enjoy Christmas than I did when I was younger. Watching my husband put a duvet cover on a weighted blanket he bought for me gave me all kinds of warm, fuzzy feelings. I realized that I don’t care about things. I care about the one person who makes me really happy and loves me for who I am. And Christmas is fun and relaxing for us, because we’re compatible and satisfied with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. Last night, Bill read my post and cried.
I’ve written a lot of posts about Christmases past… ones with my family of origin, and one that directly involved Ex, who is the Grand Poobah of Holiday Misery. Last year, I wrote a post about this topic that I absolutely stand by today. The post was titled “I refuse to let anyone mess up my holidays, and it’s a good policy to have.” It was about realizing that we all get a vote. Christmas is for everyone who wants to celebrate it. It should be a time of peace, love, understanding, good will, and enjoying the good things in life. If you’re Christian, it is, above all, about honoring the birth Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of man.
The religious part of the holiday is not what I want to focus on today, although I know it’s important to many people. What I want to focus on is the stress that inevitably comes from all holidays, but especially THIS one. Christmas is, after all, the biggest holiday of the year. But when it comes down to it, it’s also just a day. It shouldn’t be a day for grand performances, and by that, I don’t mean actual performances involving singing or dancing. I mean people who do things to make a judgmental point, being sanctimonious, or trying to be someone they’re not.
This morning, just before breakfast, I read an AITA (am I the asshole) post on God’s page about a woman whose turn it was to host Christmas. She decided that she wanted her dinner to be “dry”– as in, no booze allowed. When I first saw the title of the post, I immediately had some sympathy for her position. It was, after all, her house. If she doesn’t want to serve alcohol in her house, that’s her prerogative. But then I read the actual post. I note that the Redditors labeled her the “asshole”.
It sounds like the OP unilaterally decided that there shouldn’t be any boozing in her house. It’s her right to decide that, of course, but her attitude toward her husband’s family is not very kind or charitable. She doesn’t make a polite or respectful request, nor does it sound like she told people a long time in advance about her rule. What would have happened if her sister-in-law hadn’t called to ask about what she should bring? It sounds like that was when she mentioned her “no booze” rule, not when she issued the invitations.
I would have more empathy for the OP’s position if she had stated outright that she preferred the dinner to be booze free, rather than allowing the rule to be spread on the family grapevine. And then, she reveals that she thinks people in her husband’s family are “childish” and need to “grow up”. Those are insulting remarks that aren’t very Christmassy at all.
Her sister-in-law decided to host her own Christmas dinner, which she is well within her rights to do. And the family has decided they would prefer that invitation to the OP’s, who refused to budge on her no booze rule, with no hope of compromise. And she assumes they are going to the sister-in-law’s house because they can’t stay sober for one day, not because she was disrespectful to them.
Sister-in-law even invited the OP and her husband to their house, so there wouldn’t be any booze in the OP’s home. But she’s butthurt about it and refusing to go… and she’s “making” her husband stay home and spend Christmas with her. As if she has the right to dictate where another adult spends their time… I wonder how she would like it if her husband told her she “couldn’t go” somewhere she wanted to go. Some people would call that abusive.
What if the OP had compromised and allowed beer and wine below a certain ABV? Maybe she could have allowed wine only during dinner, or operated a “cash bar” set up, with people paying for libations. The money raised could then be donated to an agreed upon charity, or put in a pot for the next family gathering. Or maybe she could have come up with some other compromise that didn’t involve shame and judgment. That might have cut down on the drunkenness and sloppy behavior, while still allowing adults to have some fun. If she really didn’t want any alcohol in her home, she could have stated it kindly and lovingly, instead of with a judgmental and insulting attitude. Even if drinking alcohol to excess is unhealthy and can lead to obnoxious behavior, offering to host a family dinner and self-righteously lecturing people about their habits on a holiday is very poor form. No wonder alternate plans were made.
And then there’s the “grand performance” intended to put someone in a good or miraculous light.
Against my better judgment, I took a look at Ex’s Twitter page last night. She made several posts directed at Oreo, Betty Crocker, Wilton Cakes, and Spangler Candy. She videoed her supposedly severely autistic son, whom she has said is “non-verbal”, and her youngest daughter. They were decorating cookies and making what appears to be a train made with Oreos, frosting, and candies. She’s presenting her son as “miraculous” somehow, as he reads aloud, reminding everyone again that he’s “non-verbal”. And yet, obviously he ISN’T really non-verbal. Non-verbal would mean he can’t or won’t talk. Obviously he does have the power of speech and uses it. She’s mentioned before times when her son was “trained” to say things (that was her word for it). It serves her when he seems worse off than he actually is, as it gets her sympathy. But she’d rather he not be worse off in reality, because that makes life harder for her… or her daughters, who are evidently the ones who look after him most of the time.
I didn’t watch the whole video, because hearing Ex’s voice was too upsetting for Bill. But she also taught her son a song and dance, which he gamely performed on the video. I was torn between feeling good for him that he was trying so hard and having some fun, and feeling disgust for Ex, because it’s obvious she’s hoping to go viral and, perhaps, score some money from big companies. I don’t think her videos will get that kind of traction, but she plainly has high hopes. It seems to me that maybe it would be better to turn off the camera and focus on her time with her family, rather than trying to pitch her son’s handiwork with sweets to corporations.
@BettyCrocker Autistic children are amazing, beautiful perfectionists!!! How do you like ***** sugar cookies?
@Oreo a gift for you from ****!!!
I could see making these kinds of posts for friends and family members, but she only tagged big companies, and it was kind of obvious that she hoped they’d think the display was cute and offer her some kind of sponsorship or endorsement deal. Once again, it looks like she’s making her offspring perform in the hopes of scoring some “easy” (for her) loot. I can see now why a couple of her kids have moved far away from her. Because I have a feeling that this kind of thing is a regular occurrence, especially at Christmas. There’s an image to project to strangers, but very little love for actual family members. I also never see her posting about her husband, who was so much “better” than Bill.
The funny thing is, I’d bet $100 that Bill had a much nicer holiday than they did… And he also got to share messages with his mom and his daughter yesterday. There were no performances or pretenses. It was just everyone being themselves and genuinely wishing each other well. Nobody got drunk or obnoxious or had a meltdown, either. And… everything I bought for Bill is paid for in full. I don’t know if he can say the same thing, but I do know that he can pay for everything if he needs to. Ex can’t say that. In fact, she was recently lamenting about how she had no money for Christmas… but she had lots of money for sweets, which she is now promoting on Twitter. Go figure.
Anyway… it’s not my business. I need to end this post, too. We have a lunch date. Hopefully, steroid mad Arran will stay out of trouble while we’re out… my first time out in a long while. If he stays out of trouble, maybe that will be our Christmas miracle. 😉
It seems to be a very popular thing these days to ask people on Reddit if one is “an asshole” for acting in a certain way. The notoriety of the “Am I the Asshole” (AITA) posts has spun into people turning them into very active Facebook posts or people even writing articles about them. The comedian behind “God” is no exception. Yesterday, “God” posted an AITA article about a woman who refuses to share sanitary products with her stepdaughter. She wanted to know if that made her an “asshole”.
Below is the Reddit post in question:
God’s article seemed to try, at least on the surface, to be fair to the stepmom, allowing that it’s difficult to try to “parent” someone who is only 13 years younger. But the rest of the article is decidedly slanted against the stepmother, making her out to be immature, petty, and mean. So I went to the comments, which was obviously a mistake, unless you consider that the comments gave me fodder for today’s post. 😉
From the get go, lots of people were chiming in with stories about their own evil stepmothers. Since I am “technically” a stepmother myself, I see the role from a different perspective. I decided to ask, “So, any woman who marries a man with children is evil?”
I did not provide any information about myself. I didn’t explain that I have two stepdaughters whom I have only seen in person once. I just asked a question, and I didn’t target anyone in particular. People could have just ignored me, but of course, they didn’t.
The first response I got was this: “My stepmother tried to poison me, so I have a different perspective.”
I was a little troubled that the guy who wrote that didn’t clarify that he only meant HIS stepmother was evil, not that all stepmothers are, as his first comment seemed to indicate. I fought the urge to write something angry to him. Instead, I tried to be measured. I wrote something along the lines of, “I am truly sorry that you were so traumatized by that experience that, apparently, your overall view of stepmothers is negative. That’s too bad.”
That comment triggered at least three other people, who each decided to take me on. One immediately called me a “karen”. One gave me an angry reaction and said I was “proving” the guy’s point somehow. The other wrote, “No one said that, but you sure made a leap.” To each of these folks– all apparently women– I wrote “Have a nice day.” I was not going to get into arguments with people who immediately start off their communications with insults and assumptions, with no attempt to even try to be empathetic. I have learned that getting into arguments with strangers is pointless. They won’t understand, because they choose not to. You can tell by the way they lob insults like “karen” and go right for the proverbial jugular with verbal nastiness.
Listen– I get that stepparents– especially stepmothers– are a contentious topic. A lot of people are legitimately traumatized by their stepparents, especially the women who dare to marry their fathers. However, the fact remains that a whole lot of marriages end in divorce, and a lot of people will either marry subsequent spouses, or they will become stepparents themselves. No one I have ever met has ever said their life’s ambition was to be a stepparent. And dammit, stepparents– including and especially stepmothers– are people too!
While no one specially stated that women who marry previously married men with children are “evil”, that was definitely the attitude that was coming across loud and clear. Insulting and making assumptions about perfect strangers, simply because they don’t go with the comment flow, is pretty lame. Critical thinking and mindful responding are good things in a comment section, rather than just popping off with stale 2019 era insults like “karen” and assuming the worst about every person one meets online.
It just seemed to me that instead of responding to the specific case in question, people were using that space to comment about their own “wicked stepmothers”. I’ll bet the vast majority of them have never once tried to see things from their stepmothers’ perspective. But I know better than outwardly making that assumption about people I don’t know. It would only open up a huge, unpleasant can of worms. I think posting “Have a nice day.” to people who are determined to argue and are immediately rude is a good policy. I’m going to try to do it more often… or, even better, just ignore the haters completely.
It’s funny, though, that some of those folks apparently think I am a “wicked” stepmother myself. For many years, maybe I kind of was. You see, I was legitimately livid with my stepdaughters because of the truly awful way they treated their father. I was angry with them because I know and love their dad so much, and I saw the devastating effect the estrangement had on him. They would not so much as speak to him on the phone, send an email, or even tell him to kiss their asses. And, for years, younger daughter in particular seemed to have a haughty, mean-spirited attitude toward Bill that I found insufferable. She was the one who, as a nine year old, was emboldened to slap Bill across the face for having beer in his refrigerator. I couldn’t abide the disrespect, especially given that my bio father was in my life and often treated me with contempt. Here these girls were with a father who adores them, and they just threw him away.
In retrospect, I have since realized that my reaction to younger daughter was based on limited information, and I was wrong. I have since found out that she and her sister were pretty much forced to behave the way they did. When she later reconnected with Bill, I learned more about younger daughter when she’s not influenced by her mother’s toxic craziness. I then realized that she’s actually a very nice– and surprisingly mature– young woman. It makes me sad that she had to become that way so young, due to the way she was raised. Her mother’s immaturity made it imperative that she step up and be an adult many years before her time. But she’s clearly a great wife and mother, and she’s made it clear that she will not be raising her kids the way her mother raised her. She even lets her kids call Bill “Papa”, which is absolutely adorable!
But here’s the funny thing, though. After many years of being angry with my husband’s daughters, and finding out that younger daughter is really not as awful as she seemed, I’m now actually being appreciated by her– even though I haven’t seen her in person since 2003. This morning, Bill got an email from his daughter. In it, she included two photos taken nine years apart. The first photo was taken for her LDS missionary packet. She has a pretty smile, but it seems kind of forced and contrived. She looks a little bit uncomfortable. In the second photo, she’s smiling, obviously relaxed, and looks genuinely happy.
Younger daughter wrote that many people who knew her nine years ago and have seen her recently have commented on her improved “countenance”. She’s really happy now, and it shows. She says she likes to think it’s her husband’s genuinely loving influence on her that has made her appear to be genuinely happy. And then she wrote to Bill, “I’ll bet Jenny has had the same effect on you.”
In fact, I did once see a photo of Bill, taken when he was in his 30s, still married to Ex, and working at a factory where, all day, he supervised men making refrigerator doors. It was a job he hated, coupled with the misery of being in a toxic, loveless marriage to someone who didn’t appreciate him at all. I told Bill that he looked much older in that photo than he does now, as a man in his late 50s. Nowadays, he does genuinely look happy. And I know that apart from getting away from a disastrous marriage to a narcissist, he’s happy because we’re compatible, comfortable, and genuinely love each other. Our relationship is not parasitic in nature. We work together to build our lives. It’s too bad that he didn’t meet me first, because if he had, he would not have ever been through divorce. But then, the divorce helped make him who he is today.
I really appreciate younger daughter’s kind words. I am grateful that she understands that, just like her, I love her dad, and I want him to be happy. I do my best to make him happy, so we can both live our best lives. I think he has a similar attitude. That’s why we’re still happily married after almost 20 years. Ex, on the other hand, lamented today on Twitter that she will never have “true love”, because no man looks at her with “awe”. I guess she and #3 aren’t a match made in Heaven, after all.
That experience of changing my mind about younger daughter also reminds me of a few I’ve had with dogs. Yesterday, I posted about meeting a dog who usually snarls at me because I have Arran and Noyzi with me. But, when I met her at the weekly market, without my big dogs, she was perfectly sweet and gentle. Kind of like years ago, when one of the neighborhood kids on Fort Belvoir commented that she hated my beagles, Flea and MacGregor, because she thought they were mean. She based her opinion on their loud barks and baying when they were on their walks, catching scents among the old trees on post. But then another neighbor kid– our next door neighbor who knew my dogs well– explained that actually, my dogs LOVED kids. And then Flea went up to the girl and stood stock still so she could pet him. She looked up at me and BEAMED. Her opinion was changed, because now she had personal experience to the contrary to what she had previously believed. Ha ha ha… given these examples of minds being changed due to dogs, maybe I am kind of like a “bitch”. 😉 But anyway, the point is, with more information, one’s perspectives can quickly change.
Now… getting back to the AITA case that prompted this post. I want to comment on something I noticed in God’s “responses”. The person who wrote that article wrote it as if the stepmother was the girl’s parent. I know that all situations are different, but the stepmom specifically wrote that she doesn’t see herself in a “mom” role for that young lady. And, assuming the teenager has a real mother out there somewhere, I think that’s entirely appropriate. She is, after all, only 13 years older than the girl is. Given that she doesn’t see herself as a “mom”, she probably lacks the empathy a mom would have for a girl who needs sanitary napkins. Personally, I don’t think I would have blown up at the teen, but she did explain that her “hormones” were everywhere. And while wacky hormones aren’t really an excuse to be nasty and abusive, I do know from personal experience that they can affect a person’s mood. If I were the stepmom in this case, I would not appreciate it if the girl was in my room, going through my stuff, and taking things without asking first. That shows a lack of common and basic courtesy that, by age 16, I would expect in someone. Moreover, it actually IS her father’s, and her mother’s, responsibility to provide for their daughter– or at least provide her the means to obtain those items for herself. I know a lot of stepparents do become de facto parents, but it doesn’t sound like that’s how it is in this particular case.
Was the stepmom an “asshole” for blowing up at her stepdaughter? Well, yeah, she probably was. But I can see why she blew up. I think perhaps they need to have a serious chat about respecting each other’s space and belongings, particularly since there isn’t a “mom/daughter” dynamic in that relationship. Maybe they need to try to define what the stepmom’s role is, and act accordingly. Is she expected to be a mom? Or is she just a friend who happens to be married to dear old dad? If she’s a de facto “mom”, then yeah, I can see her talking to her stepdaughter about things like periods and helping her out when she needs supplies. That would be a kind thing to do regardless. But if she’s really just more of a “friend”, and the teen doesn’t see or treat her as a “mom”, then I would expect the teen to stay out of her “friend’s” bathroom cabinets, right? She wouldn’t dare brazenly go through a peer’s cabinets without permission, would she? Besides, stepmothers can’t seem to win for losing. A lot of people would blame them for trying to act like a “mom” to someone who already has a mother. And others would blame them for NOT acting like a mom and loving their stepchildren instantly and unconditionally. While it’s wonderful when stepparents can bond like that with their partners’ offspring from other relationships, the reality is, that simply doesn’t always happen, for a huge variety of completely legitimate reasons.
I am, technically, a stepmother myself, but I don’t feel like a mom to younger daughter. I’ve only met her once in person. On the other hand, she has made it clear that I probably have been more of the kind of mom she would have chosen for herself, if only because I don’t say or do toxic things, and I don’t interfere with her budding reconnection with her dad. In fact, unlike the stepmom in God’s article and Bill’s ex wife, I am delighted to share!
Seriously, though… I do know that some stepparents are truly awful, and I sympathize with those who are traumatized. But you know what? Some bio parents are awful, too. Regardless, most of us would do well to try to see things from another angle from time to time. And everyone should stop using the derogatory term “karen” as an insult. It’s a very stupid and unoriginal thing to do.
I must admit, as a childless child of the 70s and 80s, this trend of parents being asked to buy extra supplies for classrooms is a strange idea to me. In my day, everybody brought their own supplies to school. And parents would put their child’s name on their stuff, so it wouldn’t get “borrowed” or redistributed. I’m sure it sucked back then for kids whose parents didn’t have a lot of money. But, if you think about it, we all knew whose parents had money, and whose didn’t. Hell, I used to be jealous of my classmates whose parents bought them Trapper Keepers for every subject, while I had cheap plastic binders with shitty plastic rings. Or they had those cool erasable pens, while I had some cheesy ballpoint pen my dad got from some business. My mom wasn’t one to pander to my desires for fancy school supplies, and we would usually shop for that stuff at AAFES. And AAFES, at least in the 80s, was not a high end store.
Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. Some kids are more athletic than others are. Some are more attractive or musically talented or funny. Some kids are academic geniuses. And some have parents who have money, and can buy them pencils with dinosaurs on them, personalized stationery, or lefty scissors. Or they have parents who are willing to deal with the child’s sensory issues by getting them notebooks with plastic spirals instead of metal ones. Some people prefer to write with certain types of pens and pencils. If that helps them succeed in doing their work, what’s the big deal? Part of growing up is learning to accept that life isn’t fair, and doing the best you can with what you have.
I can understand the reasons teachers might have for asking parents to contribute supplies. I also understand why they would want the parents to get things that are generic. However, based on God’s article, it doesn’t sound like the teacher specified that the supplies should be the cheapest available. She was likely fine with genuine Crayola crayons over the generic ones that are found at the Dollar Tree. It sounds like the mom in this instance simply wanted to provide the best available supplies for her child. I don’t blame her for that.
What really got my hackles up, though, was the fact that the teacher sent home what the Redditor describes as a “very passive aggressive note” inviting her to come in for a “talking to” with the teacher. Now, it could be that the teacher’s note wasn’t actually passive aggressive. Maybe it was a friendly note. But since the actual note isn’t provided to Redditors, I will just assume the mom’s assessment of the note’s tone is correct.
Generally speaking, I am very pro-teacher. I think they are underpaid and disrespected. I know they have a tough job, and they literally put their lives on the line working in education these days. I still think it would grind my gears to have a teacher dictate to me that I must buy extra supplies for the classroom, to cover the kids who don’t have what they need, and then tell me that I can’t provide the school supplies that work best for my own child. And I would not take kindly to a “request” to come in for a discussion about my kid’s perfectly good school supplies, especially after I contributed the “generic” extra supplies that were requested. In fact, I would probably end up complaining to a higher power. My response to the teacher’s “request” (which sounds more like a demand) would likely be a resounding “NO.” However… It does seem strange to me that the mom would buy “personalized stationery”. In my day, we all just used college ruled loose leaf paper.
Most of the people on God’s page were all about the mom providing personalized supplies for her child. I see on Reddit, the commenters are offering good reasons why the policy of redistributing supplies is potentially traumatic, as well as unfair. One person wrote about how they were going through tough financial straits and sent their child with used supplies from their older siblings. The teacher sent the used supplies back, explaining that they weren’t appropriate. Why not? The used supplies work as well as brand new ones do. And then the poor kid was humiliated in front of their peers.
Others wrote about how they were asked to buy tons of supplies every year that never got used, or were items that should last for years, like scissors, protractors, rulers and compasses. Specifically, one poster wrote “those things will last for years, if you take care of them.” Exactly… and part of the experience of being in school should be teaching children to take care of their things, and maintain possession of their own stuff. So yeah, if I were the mom in this scenario, I would be raising some hell.
I read some of the Facebook comments… and then I had to stop. I must be turning into an old lady now, because one comment literally made me cringe. A man from Minnesota (I checked to make sure he wasn’t a Brit or living in Britain), wrote something along the lines of, “That woman is just a cunt. She just wants to show off how much money she has. Fuck her!”
Wow. I’m not sure what prompted this guy– name of Ryan– to leave such a misogynistic and completely inappropriate response to that article. However, against my better judgment, I felt compelled to respond to him with what I think is a gentle rebuke.
I wrote, “Ryan, using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”
I fully expected Ryan to come back and call ME a cunt. Usually, that type of person has no qualms about spewing their nastiness on anyone in the strike zone. I did pause before I commented, because I don’t want to be called a cunt. Especially after I’ve had a beer or two, as was the case last night. But then I realized that I can always block Ryan if he lobs verbal abuse at me. Lately, I’ve been blocking people I haven’t even engaged with, simply because I can easily tell that they aren’t people with whom I wish to interact.
After I commented to Ryan, I had to sit and contemplate for a few minutes. I must be getting old. I have often stated, and I do actually believe, that all words are useful sometimes. I do think there are even some times when the word “cunt” is appropriate. However, in the United States, that’s generally a term that is saved for the end of an argument. Sure, if you’re a Brit, you might use it to describe a silly fool, or something. But that article was written for and mostly read by Americans, and to Americans, the word “cunt” is among the worst of the worst insults, especially to women. We would all be up in arms if someone casually dropped the n bomb on social media. So why is it okay for Ryan to call some mother he doesn’t know a “cunt”, simply because he has unresolved issues regarding women? I mean, I know I’m assuming, but why else would he go there so early?
Anyway… I was surprised at myself, because after I read Ryan’s comment, it turned me off of the comment page. I had to click off of it. I shared God’s post on my own page, and a few friends who are teachers chimed in. Most seemed to think the teacher’s policy of redistributing school supplies is ridiculous. I mean, I guess some teachers pass out and collect the supplies at the beginning and end of each session. I still think there’s value in teaching children that they have to keep up with their own stuff, and that labeling things, especially when you’re working in a group, is a smart policy.
Count me among those who also think that if a stranger’s behavior seems wrong or unfair, it’s better not to call them a name that connotes so much hatred for a group of people. The fact that Ryan felt perfectly fine in referring to a concerned mother as a “cunt” who is “showing off” her money, tells me that he has some serious issues with women, and probably people with money, too. It’s not a good look, as the orange turd would say.
Reading this story makes me glad I don’t have children.
I apologize in advance for going a bit off the rails in this post… I’m still kind of triggered by how all of this turned out, although I would say we mostly have had a happy ending of sorts.
This morning, I watched a YouTube video by Exmo Lex. I’ve written about her a couple of times in the past year. She’s an ex Mormon whose husband’s family disowned her and her husband because they don’t want to be LDS anymore. Although the video below is about Mormonism, I was a little triggered by it for other reasons, which I will explain in the following paragraphs.
Some regular readers may know that my husband, Bill, and I have been through a similar situation. Bill’s kids disowned him when they were still minors. One of the children, now an adult, and ironically an active member of the LDS church, has resumed a relationship with Bill. The other adult child remains estranged, although she and her mother have no problem continuing to glom on to Bill’s father’s family. Personally, I think it’s very sad, because one would think after so many years, these people would catch on to the fact that Ex is only interested in relationships that benefit her. It’s happened over and over again… that all too familiar cycle of abuse. And the one thing that really punctuates it is the complete lack of respect and regard for other people’s boundaries that Ex demonstrates time and again.
I KNOW that eventually, Ex will discard the people she’s reconnected with; although she never totally severs any connections– probably due to a fear of abandonment and constant need for narcissistic supply– she also never stays close. There is always some kind of eventual falling out that leads to her victims’ eventual discard. But the discards, unfortunately, are never permanent. She always comes back like a bad case of herpes. And she comes back, not because she loves, or even likes, her targets. She comes back because she needs something. Usually, it’s money, or someone else to do her dirty work.
This post wasn’t supposed to be just about Ex, though. It’s about red flags, and signs that indicate that a relationship is “toxic” and needs to be ended. A few days ago, the person who runs the Reddit Ridiculousness Facebook page shared a recent entry from Reddit’s popular AITA (am I the asshole) page. It was about a woman whose husband’s family regularly excluded her from family dinners, while they welcomed her husband’s brothers’ girlfriends. The poster got angry because, once again, she was being dissed. So she decided to go to the same restaurant where her husband was dining with his family and have a steak. Naturally, this upset her husband and his family, who no doubt realized that this was a rather pointed indication that the OP was tired of the disrespect. Still, the husband had the NERVE to get pissed off at his wife for having a steak in the same restaurant where he was dining with his parents and brothers and their girlfriends. Here’s a link to the original post on Reddit.
When I read this the other day, before the update about her leaving her husband was posted, I was reminded of the time Ex “invited” Bill and me to his father’s house in Tennessee for Christmas, and how totally disrespectful it was. Back in 2004, Ex had decided that this was the best way for Bill to enjoy “visitation” with his kids. She and #3 and their baby would be in attendance and there would be stuff going on, making it impossible for Bill to bond with his children and/or influence them in any way. When this happened, Bill and I had only been married for two years, and Bill still hoped he would be able to stay in his daughters’ lives. He knew that if he didn’t attend the holiday gathering, his ex wife would punish him.
For several weeks, I debated as to what I should do. After all, I am Bill’s wife, not Ex. And since I am Bill’s wife, those were now my in-laws, not hers. Yet, here she was, inviting Bill to his own father’s house. It really infuriated me, not just because of her fucking gall, but also because Christmas 2003 was spent with my family, and it had not gone well. I knew that if I went to the Christmas gathering at FIL’s house, and had to spend several days with Ex, yet another holiday would be ruined. I also knew that Bill’s kids weren’t interested in getting to know me, and would never have the chance to get to know me during that trip, which we also couldn’t afford, due to the enormous amount of child support Bill was paying. So, I finally decided that I would not attend. We didn’t tell the in-laws or Ex, because we didn’t want her to cancel the trip. Bill wanted to see his daughters. We knew that part of the reason she had cooked up this little scheme was because she wanted to get a look at me and an idea of what she could get away with.
So I stayed home, and Bill went to Tennessee alone to see his kids. It turned out to be the LAST time he would see them until March 2020, when Bill was finally able to visit his younger daughter in Utah. During that visit at Christmas 2004, younger daughter refused to speak to Bill. #3 was a perfect asshole to Bill, treating him with disdain in his own father’s home. And Ex bent SMIL’s ear about how I had “snubbed” the family by refusing to come. By the time she was finished, Ex had SMIL blaming ME for that fiasco. I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t plan it, nor did anyone even ask me what I thought about it. I was just expected to show up and smile, no matter what.
Many people told me I should have gone to that Christmas gathering and tried to be friendly with Ex. I remember on RfM, a poster took me to task when I wrote about this situation in 2011. She claimed I had “made up” the story, and it was my fault that everything fell apart. This was what the poster got from my anecdote:
You are making this up – you did not cooperate and you will never know what kind of effect it would havehad. You thinking it would have had no positive effect is your way of justifying what you did. Right or wrong – you will never know. When it comes to my ex having a relationship with his kids, I will never get in the way, but I am not like a lot of ex’s I have heard of.
You may have had a positive influence, but you will never know. I am a bit inclined to agree that ‘no good would have come of it’ it is pretty clear that was your intention all along – based on results.
I am also certain you would not have had a good time – you had no intention of doing so. You can only control you and making shit up to justify your behavior is only that – making it up.
Then, when I pointed out to the poster that she doesn’t know me or the other people involved, she insisted that I was in the wrong… and was making up this story. She reiterated that it was MY FAULT that Christmas 2004 was a disaster, because I didn’t cooperate with Ex, turn the other cheek, and let her treat me with disrespect. The person did eventually come around after hours of arguing with me and other RfM posters, but it took some real doing to convince her. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are programmed this way. They think that giving in to controlling manipulators, who are abusive and mistreat other people, is the best way to attain peace and positive results. I eventually told her to fuck off, and this was her response.
No attitude at all, I am just saying that she was so sure it would be bad that she got to be right. Sheesh – tell me to fuck off if that makes you feel better. IMO this is a case of an unwillingness to be accountable. The outcome may have been much more positive had she set boundaries while still going. One will never know and speculation is all that is going on here. IMO pridefulness got in the way of everything. The end result is that her DH has no relationship with his children and IMO that is a tragedy.
Feel free to blast me, but get accountable here and stop acting like the victim.
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t the one who had come up with this plan. No one asked me for my opinion about it. I was just ordered to show up for it, even though it was incredibly disrespectful and inconsiderate on many levels. And the reason I was being expected to show up was supposedly for the kids’ sakes. But honestly, how many kids really want to see their stepparents on the biggest holiday of the year that badly, especially if they don’t have a relationship with them? It would have been one thing if they knew me and were eager to see me. But at that point– and still today– I had only met them in person once. My not being there wasn’t going to make any difference to them. It would only matter to the adults– FIL, SMIL, and Ex, and Ex only wanted me there because she wanted me to be in a controlled environment where, she expected, I would rein myself in and not cause a scene. The in-laws just wanted permission to invite Ex so they could keep seeing the grandchildren. My feelings didn’t matter, because in their minds, I was the interloper– even though I had NOTHING to do with the divorce. It was as if because I came second, I should simply tolerate blatant disrespect as a matter of course. Well, that’s simply not in my DNA anymore.
And actually, I don’t think I was “acting like a victim”. In fact, I avoided being a victim, because I could see through Ex’s scheme and didn’t show up like a lamb to slaughter, setting myself up for yet another shitty Christmas. There is no way Ex and I would have gotten along, because Ex isn’t a normal person, and she wasn’t willing to cooperate with Bill on any level. What kind of person invites herself to someone else’s home, demands to be allowed to stay there, even though it’s her ex husband’s family’s home, and then demands that her ex husband and his new wife show up to observe the biggest holiday of the year? It’s absolute lunacy! And it took incredible nerve and entitlement– as well as willing flying monkeys– to pull it off. In the years that followed, Ex tried to get Bill to sign papers that would have allowed #3 to legally adopt the girls. Of course, I doubt Ex would have filed the papers, because that would have meant no more of Bill’s generous child support. As it was, she got the girls to legally change their last names. BUT… SMIL has forgotten all about that, and has allowed that bitch into her house again. She has apparently believed Ex’s lies about her own stepson.
When another RfM commenter wrote that she wasn’t sure if I did the right thing, I responded with this:
I am not asking anyone to “agree” with what I did. The fact is, a lot of people didn’t agree with what I did. I second guessed my decision myself for awhile, until it became very clear that the Christmas gathering was a trap set by a narcissist who sought to control me and my husband.
Here are the facts. My husband’s ex has a long history of putting people in awkward situations and exploiting them. A year before my husband and I met, the Ex served my husband divorce papers at his father’s house over Easter. The children were there for “that” little spectacle, too.
I did not plan that Christmas gathering. I was just expected to attend, whether I wanted to be there or not. Visitation of the kids was an issue that was between my husband and his ex wife. I had nothing to do with it. I am not their parent and THAT was made abundantly clear from the very beginning.
I would have liked to have had a relationship with them, but I wasn’t about to have one on my husband’s ex wife’s terms. That would have set us up for years of her violating boundaries.
It seems to me that if the Ex wanted me to “bond” with her and her husband, along with the kids, she would have picked a holiday with fewer expectations, less religious significance, less pressure, and less stress– say, Memorial Day or July 4th. She would have chosen a neutral location. She would have asked ALL of the adults who were involved if they agreed with the arrangements, instead of just expecting everyone to comply with her demands without question. She would have approached this situation with a lot more respect for EVERYONE, not just me.
When someone advised me to ignore the woman who kept telling me how “wrong” I was to skip the Christmas gathering, she wrote:
That’s not what I’m saying, what I am saying is that her attitude and attendance could or could not have made a difference. His children have been told to demonize her and she did not show her face to present anything different. Had she gone and chosen to act like an adult, they would have seen she is not thehorrible person their mother has told them she is. They did not get that chance because she refused to attend. I am just not one to say that pouting, stomping your feet, and saying I will not set aside my own pride for the sake of my husbands children is a good thing. You all can say that all you want, I just don’t agree.
ETA – Many divorced couples are setting aside their differences and attending events together in order to create a win/win. My ex and I do this, my daughter and her ex and her new bf’s ex do this. It’s a healthy thing IMO – it shows that adults can set aside their differences and create something better.
Mmm’kay… so “acting like an adult” means that I should simply tolerate abusive bullshit from my husband’s ex wife? That means that we give up precious vacation and family time to put up with her schemes, no matter how completely horrible and sick they are? My mental health doesn’t matter? Wow… unbelievable. I might have agreed with the poster if Ex was a normal person. She’s not a normal person, and this wasn’t a friendly invitation. It amazes me that this person is so sure that, not knowing any of the people involved in this scenario, we could all just come together in harmony, and that the whole thing hinged on me. What was really important is that Bill was able to see his kids. I didn’t need to be there for that. And I don’t think I was a victim. I think Ex is an enormous asshole who uses her children and other people to feed her need for control. She should have sent the kids on a plane, but she refused to do that. She had to be in the middle of it, controlling everything. Sorry, but as an adult, I don’t have to sign up to be under her control. Fuck that, and fuck the poster who apparently thinks that having a “golden uterus” entitles Ex to call the shots.
Someone finally spelled it out to the clueless poster who blamed me for the Christmas disaster. She wrote:
“My husband was trying really hard to nail down visitation with his daughters. He truly loved his kids and wanted to see them, but his ex kept shooting down all his proposed visitations. “
His ex was making it difficult for him to see his kids.
You’re projecting your situation on hers, and then condemning her for not being able to do what you were able to do, bigred. THE OP was working with a deck stacked against her. There was never going to be a positive way out of this one – the ex was clearly not interested in keeping things civil and wanted to be in control of everything (right down to dictating how she’d be staying in OP’s DH’s family home!)
She was right to back out of the situation to keep herself out of the equation. Remember – they’re not her kids, and he doesn’t have primary custody, so the term “stepmother” would be so incredibly loose as best that she had no right to get in the middle there.
There was a history of problems, and she rightly stepped back out of them.
The ex poisoned her kids against the husband, and used the OP as fodder for more negativity. The OP couldn’t have done a single thing here, other than make things worse if she stepped into it.
There was a lot more to that post. I’m still kind of triggered by it, even though I wrote it eleven years ago, and it was about an incident that happened in 2004. It’s not easy being a second wife and stepmother. It was especially hard for me in the early days, because so many people assume that second wives are abusive homewreckers. Bio moms and first wives are often automatically assumed to be victims, when that isn’t always the case. Ex uses that “First Wives Club” idea to promote her own agenda. One person wrote this– again assuming that I caused this shit, and projecting their thoughts onto our situation. I promise you, I didn’t cause this.
Whenever I hear the term ‘alienation’ I see it used as a way to trivialize any legitimate feelings the children have and lump them all on the ‘offending’ parent.
If my dad left my home, moved halfway across the country, and started a whole new life with some stranger, spending more time with her than me (as a daughter myself, I have no doubt that these girls saw this as ‘dad loves her more than us’ thing) I think I would be hurt and angry too.
I doubt the ‘evil ex’ had to do much, if anything, to ‘get’ those girls to write off their dad. I also have to wonder how much of the craziness/anger with the ex has to do with her being upset that her children are so upset.
I know this shit usually takes two, I just always have to wonder what the other side of the story is and whythis dad had, according to the story, spent so little time with his kids in the last 2 years. He got married and had not one, but two kids with this woman. Did she just turn crazy after the divorce? I’m sure he played no part in it, he was just an Innocent bystander, right?
Sorry to say this, knotheadusc, but as far as those kids are concerned, you ARE an interloper. You got involved with a man who was already in a committed relationship, a father/minor daughter relationship. The kids haven’t been ‘alienated’ by a wicked ex, they are human, and for all intent and purpose, you stole their daddy. At least that’s how it feels to them.
So, the above person hasn’t heard of people in the military, who usually have to move at least every three years? Ex also moved after the divorce. She went the opposite direction, and lived in a state where there are very few military installations. She demanded so much child support that we couldn’t afford to visit. The courts weren’t involved in their divorce, other than to approve the filing, and we didn’t have the time or money to use them to force her to allow visitation. And after a divorce, Mom can get remarried, but Dad can’t? And somehow, this is all MY fault? Ex demanded the divorce, and I didn’t even know Bill in person when it happened. Later, we learned from younger daughter that Ex had pretty much forced her and her sister to be alienated. They weren’t naturally inclined to be that way.
While I appreciate that it’s human nature to “armchair general” other people’s actions, knot and I are the only folks here who where there and know the entire story. It is not so cut and dried.
I reentered the Army toward the end of my ninth year of marriage to the ex. Even though our marriage had almost deteriorated past the point of no return and I was living in a toxic environment, I was still willing to save it (for the sake of the children, no less). I was offered (really ordered) to an assignment in a neighboring state, and I asked (really begged) her to pack everything up, get rid of the money-pit house that was falling down around us and go with me. She refused.
We were geographically separated for five months before she served me divorce papers. In that time, she succeeded in packing up and sending out all my things, removing pictures of me and my mother from the house and from photo albums, telling the kid’s teachers and other Ward members and Bishopric that I had just “left”. She tried to convince my family that I was a sick and abusive misogynist, and some of them bought it. I began to see that she was shaping an environment whereby I’d be isolated from family and friends, and the only way to break that isolation would be to comply with her demands, reenter the toxic environment, and “shut up and color”.
Read Orwell much?
Two months after serving me papers she packed up the kids, abandoned the house (oh yeah, I was paying the mortgage too) and moved to AZ. Why? Don’t know–neither of us have any family there. However, her move created a complex problem set to visitation. First, I just started a new job and people aren’t successful in their jobs if they are never there. Then there was distance–I couldn’t have my kids over every other weekend or go see them for that matter, just “on a whim”. Economics. Knot did mention that after paying the mortgage, alimony and child support I had about $600 left over, right? Still, I was able to see them five times during those first two years.
The I moved to VA and got married. 9/11 became an excuse for her to deny my requests to fly the kids to the East Coast. If I wanted to see them, then I had to come out there. She was the mom and “knew better”. Frankly, I didn’t have the money or the time to take her to court. And losing my job over it briefs well as a Lifetime Movie script, but it really would have been irresponsible.
So the Christmas idea was all hers, brought up while we were negotiating visitation. She played it off as a “win-win”–they’d get to see their parents, and knot and I could be there too (she never said that the kids wanted to see me or their stepmother). I didn’t want to do it at first. I’d known the ex at that time for over 18 years and understood what she intended to do. She was shaping my parent’s house as a “killing ground” of sorts. She was bringing her husband and the kids she had with him. So, if knot and I showed up, the ex would monopolize all my parent’s time, bring up the past (remember when we…), and do all she could to probe knot while pushing her to the periphery. Her husband was there to enforce loyalty binds and he did so, working his best to take my kids’ attention from me. Christmas was miserable, and later I told my parents that I would never do that again. But it was the only way to see my children.
This has all been a bunch of TL;DR, but life is about making choices and dealing with the risks involved. I made choices and accepted risk that other folks may disagree with.
But they weren’t there.
Incidentally, Bill recently sent his younger daughter– the one who wouldn’t speak to him during that Christmas visit– a box full of goodies. This morning, we got to see a video with her and her two kids. When we were in France last month, I found a block of gingerbread flavored chocolate, which came with a little wooden hammer that can be used to break the chocolate into pieces. The kids love it! And they were so adorable, saying hi, smiling, and waving. Bill is going to tell his daughter how to make a kugelhopf, since we sent her a form. She thought it was for making juice! You see? Sometimes, these stories have happy endings.
I really didn’t mean to write about this again today… but Exmo Lex’s video about red flags and the Reddit Ridiculous post really brought it all back to me. Conventional wisdom often turns out to be wrong in some situations. I know I was right not to give in to Ex’s manipulation tactics. I was right not to let her control me, or really, to allow her anywhere in my presence. She’s toxic; the red flags are there, and as I wrote in that post, someone has to stay out of the vortex… or on the side of the quick sand pit. I just wish we hadn’t been put in that situation in the first place. Sometimes, being “nice” and cooperative only leads to heartbreak. You often have to use your head to avoid hurting your heart. That’s my motto, and the moral of the story… and with that, I will close today’s post. If you made it to the end, thank you very much for reading.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.