January 5, 2018

gift that keeps on giving, or not: you decide

It's taken me almost 2 weeks to decide how to approach this touchy topic, and whether or not to share it at all.

I paid a visit to my therapist, Chip, Dec. 29th.  Before I share Chip's spin on the
situation, I wanted to see where you all would weigh in.  It's sort of a game not unlike 'Are you smarter than a 5th grader?'  This version is called - are you as smart as a therapist?  I hope you will play!

I met Chip about 10 years ago when a few of the boys were diagnosed with ADD.  He gave us techniques on how to handle some of the behavior associated with ADD.  He even came to the Catholic school and informed a room full of teachers how to deal with ADD classroom complications.  I thought I was clueless, but these 'educators' wanted every student to fit into the same square peg.  My kid was round.

Occasionally I see Chip to get my problems shrunk.  He's been helpful when I run into a situation that causes me to lose sleep or pull my hair out.  ADD isn't always the culprit.  Sometimes it's family.

My parents live a few miles from our house.  They always host Christmas.  We had a wonderful dinner and as always a very impressive assortment of homemade desserts.

'Mom always said don't play ball in the house!'
Boy cousins goofing around in a room with
too much Waterford and Nana's breakable
collection of nativity sets.  I don't remember
what they were playing keep-away with,
but I'm sure after I snapped this I ordered my
offspring to knock it off!
After dessert we move into the living room where my brother passes out the mountain of grandparent and godparent gifts.  The gift opening has scaled back since I requested that we stop drawing names for an adult gift exchange last year.  Remember how well that notion was received?  This year I went the back door route and suggested to my sane sister in law that we stop having kids exchange as well.  Why not have an older cousin pair up with a younger cousin and go ice skating or to the movies together?  I'm all for making memories instead of making more  'stuff'.

My brothers and their wives liked the idea.  They recognized that if I introduced another change, I might be excommunicated from the family.  Instead, they pretended the idea was their own.  I accepted my silent role in this change.  I wasn't looking for notoriety - just looking to shop/spend less.  Cutting down on the cousin gifts isn't depriving anyone of anything.

Opening gift free for all.
Once all the gifts were opened, my Dad called everyone to attention.  He had a big box at his feet.  He asked us not to complain if he spelled anyone's name wrong.  Then he proceeded to hand out an inscribed book to the 22 grand-kids and each of his 5 adult children.  He wrote the book about himself.  My brother Pat's co-worker and good friend had suggested the project to him.  She provided Dad with writing prompts, and he submitted responses to her along with pictures.  Then Pat proofread the book and his co-worker printed it.

It was an amazing gift.  We were all dazed.  What a great idea!  The book included photos and stories of my dad throughout his life.  My dad is VERY into history, and this was his way of sharing his own history with us.  Dad has leukemia, and this was a small reminder that he won't be with us forever.

I was still sitting in the living room talking to my sister.  Kids abandoned the stacks of gifts and raced back into the basement to play.  The older kids headed back to the family room to watch football.  Laddie suddenly reappeared in the living room.  He interrupted my conversation by shoving my Dad's book in my face.  'Read this!' he ordered.  I tried to wave him off, 'Lad, I will read it later.'

'Read it now!' he demanded.  Dad wrote a bit about each of his kids.  My paragraph started like this:  My third daughter, Ernie, married a physical therapist.  They have 6 children.  2 of which suffer from ADD (attention deficit disorder).  Her oldest has given her a real run for her money.  She suffers from a lot of frustration, but has learned how to survive.  To help with the family income, she babysits in her own home.

Stay tuned for the fallout . . .


Suburban Correspondent said...

Yikes. Did he write that way about all the kids, though? Or did the others get glowing write-ups?

Becky Brown said...

Ohhhhh. My stomach is clenched reading this. I am already hoping Chip helped you find some peace and clarity.

Ernie said...

My sister's struggle with her divorce was highlighted on her page. He pinpointed how she has survived after being married to a narcissist. It was exactly what she would want to have written about her. She comes out smelling like a rose. Both brothers: beyond glowing. Almost to the point of puke. My other sister's struggle to overcome being a marine wife and stationed overseas was detailed and how he went to visit her. He mentions that 2 of her kids had issues with anxiety, but he makes it sound like it was just an issue during transient childhood years. Not a single other grandkid was thrown under the bus for bad behavior. He does tell a story about me when I was a bad-ass and retrieved a stolen sweatshirt for my brother. Otherwise my sibs careers were glorified vs. my babysitting. A bit more detail in subsequent posts. I walked around in a daze on Dec. 26th -with a very puffy face and slits for eyes. Don't know why any of this surprised me. I guess I just keep hoping for better.

Ernie said...

Honestly, that makes me feel better. At times I fear that I am just oversensitive. Then I slap myself and realize, nope. This is not OK! Chip had some interesting advice. Not what I expected, but that's why I pay him the big bucks! Still working thru it.

Kari said...

OMFG, by the way thank you for linking me all over your blog. You'll be reading comments for days.
First, my youngest has ADD and I know she got it from my husband and I think possibly me. Story for another day.
So I understand familial stuff with the ADD in addition to ADD itself which is a lot. A lot.
Second, I love that you were (are) in therapy (me too) LOTS OF GRAMMAR MISTAKES but I am free flow writing.
Third, holy shit just when I want to give your dad the benefit of the doubt, he writes crap like that.