February 25, 2020

RED ALERT: input needed

If you saw another post pop up this morning and you planned to read it later but it was not named 'RED ALERT' - do not be alarmed, I mean feel free to be alarmed by the red alert title, but rest assured it is not life threatening.  I think 2 people saw the initial post for today before I decided to yank it for this more pressing topic:

Friday I am headed to Lake Geneva, WI for the night.  It is about 1.5 hours from here.  Curly competes in a dancing competition Saturday morning.  Mini is planning to come to cheer her on and meet up with old dancing buds.  I might drag Reg because the fancy hotel has an amazing gym and he can shoot hoops.  Less bodies at home might simplify things.  

The deal is Coach leaves on Friday till Sunday for a course he is teaching.  In Ohio, maybe?

I am trying to figure out what to do with Tank and possibly Reg.  I texted my sister, Ann, to see if she would be in town.  Maybe the boys could stay one night at her house.  Or would she want to hang out here till 11 pm or so until she was convinced there was no nonsense?  Ann lives alone.  She is divorced.  She loves hosting cousin sleepovers and chilling out with her nieces and nephews in general, which I am very grateful for.  
This photo has nothing to do with the post, but I 'started' my crockpot last week and realized a bit later that I had not plugged it in.  I discovered it in plenty of time for us to eat.  Just when I think I have it all going on . . . see that tinfoil pile - I made several loaves of chocolate chip banana bread too.  These people should be bracing themselves for March 9th when I start my class.  Life might be full of unplugged crockpots and an absence of fresh baked yummy breads.

In the fall, I posted on FB a video of Curly crying when Ed came home from college and surprised her at dancing class.  

Ann told a mutual friend:  That was so sweet, but that is what Ernie's kids are like.  They all get along so well.  It's great.  

I prefaced my request for teenage help with the fact that if it was just Tank, then he would most likely opt to just sleep at a buddy's house that night - so her help might not even be necessary.  

BUT - the following weekend I have a bigger issue, Coach and I are once again out of town in two different places.  (I know, I know - talk about two ships passing in the night.  The conversation went like this:  "Wait you are out of town? Oh, shit.  So am I."  oops).

Would she possibly be able to help us out Saturday, March 7th?  That is when Coach takes a class in Oklahoma (maybe?) departing Saturday night and returning Monday.  I am driving to see Ed at college for his fraternity's mom's weekend on late afternoon Friday the 6th and returning early Sunday the 8th.  

I am really looking forward to the mom's weekend, in part because I am planning to carpool with another mom.   Her son is one of Ed's best friends from high school.  When kids make friends in high school, I find that the parents do not always meet or don't get to know one another very well.  

Hello, 4 hour car drive.  This is my chance to become better acquainted with her, right?

You already know my sob story about not necessarily belonging to a 'group.'  I know this woman enough to know that she is fun and friendly.  Her son is a great kid.  We texted one another and decided to drive there on Friday, March 6th in the late afternoon.  She flies out of town for business really early on Sunday morning from an airport near the college, so I will then drive home solo.  We also decided to get rooms in the same hotel.   

Sigh, how to describe the sister conundrum . . . 

Ann texted me right back.  She said she could possibly help out this Friday night.  Then she reminded me that she wanted to tag along with me whenever I ended up going to see Ed.  Her daughter Beast goes to the same school as Ed.  Translation:  instead of watching my kids March 7th, she invited herself along to the college visit.  

Beast doesn't really talk to Ann.  Long story, but to sum it up:  

1.  Ann's ex husband is a sick monster.  He is a narcissist.  He does whatever he can to entice the kids to spend more time with him than with Ann.  Not because he likes his kids, but because he knows it riles up Ann.  In a nutshell, he is very lenient with them, and he is loaded and pulls this:  'Oh mom took your car.  I will buy you one.  Come live with me.'  Enough said?

2.  Ann is INCREDIBLY controlling.  She plays right into her ex's hand.  (full disclosure:  I COULD not handle this disaster.  It is a tough situation and I do not envy her one bit.  I am not heartless.  I feel for her, but I also think there are other approaches or counselors or help of some sort that might need to be given a try).  I like to say that Ann suffers from the Brady Bunch mentality.  Everything has to be 'just so.'  Case in point, Ann cannot rest if she does not see Beast's apartment each year she is away at college.  It is a 'thing' with her.  

Side note:  I never say where Lad lived last year.  Over it.  Have not even asked him to drive me by it when I go out there.  

Another example:  If she took a photo of her oldest kid in front of a tree on their first day of kindergarten, then each kid after that needed to have said photo taken in front of same tree.  Follow? 

I do not really care at all if Ann shares my hotel room.  She will not attend the stuff I am attending with Ed and his fraternity.  She will do her own thing.  I can handle her in small doses.  I don't care if she drives home with me.

BUT:  I cannot be myself when she is in my car.  So I will not be able to be my legit self while attempting to become better acquainted with my carpool pal for almost 4 hours.   

For example:  I am not telling my family that I am enrolled in a writing course.  They have not been really supportive of my writing efforts in the past, so I decided a while ago to clam up about my goal of writing a book.  There are other topics I would steer clear from.  Could I manage this for a 4 hour car ride?  Yes.  Do I want to?  No.  

Back when the kitchen was ALMOST complete (2 years ago- um and 2 years later it is status quo:  UNFINISHED), I hosted a girls' night out thing at my house to share my new kitchen with my friends.  Ann and I have some friends in common because we live in somewhat close proximity to one another.  I invited her.  

Becky, my good friend who also babysits and anxiously awaits summer as much as I do, told me something that surprised her.  

Becky: Your sister did not take her eyes off of you.  She could be talking in a group several groups away from where you were talking to other people, but she was more interested in what you were talking about.  

Me:  So true.  

Remember just a few weeks ago when Ann arrived at the doc office as I was recovering from my allergic reaction?  She told the mom who came to pick up her baby who was in my care at the time:  'I am the quiet sister.  She never stops talking.'  RUDE!

That sums it up.  I try to keep my judgy family members at a safe distance, because it is just easier.  

So, what would you do?  

1.   SURE, COME ALONG:  Tell my sister she can come with me, but alert her that I am trying to get better acquainted with my other passenger.  Instruct her to avoid criticizing me in general.  (in this case, I still have to clam up about stuff I would normally tell someone I am building a friendship with)

2.  SORRY, I AM DRIVING WITH SOMEONE, CAN YOU MEET ME THERE?  This seems goofy.  I have not determined though if Ann can leave work early enough to plan to drive with us, but I assume she would.

3.  DOES BEAST KNOW YOU ARE COMING?  It isn't my business or my problem if she plans to show-up unannounced and demand to see Beast's apartment, so doubt I would say this.  I am not one to dictate how she handles the mangled relationships she has with her kids.  

4.  OFFER ME AN ALTERNATIVE, GIVE ME A SUGGESTION, SAVE ME! Counting on you, my blog friends.  Share some wisdom.  Am I missing an option I have not considered yet.  The clock is ticking.  I have not responded to her text.  


Anonymous said...

As hard as it will be, I say tell her you are riding with someone. Be prepared to say the car is going to be full (yes, lie if you have to!). SAy you will meet her there. Remember, this may be the only time you get to become friends with the other woman.

Kara said...

I like the idea of being mostly truthful: "Driving with someone else. But you can stay with me when you get there." Don't even offer to drive with her or give her the option to ask to come in the same car as you.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Gosh. My first thought was, let her join you, but ask her to try and not criticize as this is a new friendship for you. But then I see the other two comments are totally different. Hmmmm.
I have a feeling after reading your post, that Ann is a bit envious of you and in a good way. But she doesn't know how to express this other than being a bit rude.
I still think it would be nice to let her go with you. But if you decide NOT to, I won't be mad. LOL.
It sounds like her life is kind of a shit show and spending time with you might be the highlight of her day, month, year? But, her life is not your responsibility....I'm so confused. I don't know what you should do!

LOL at the unplugged crockpot!! You can't do it all.

Ernie said...

Anon- Can I call you Anon? :) I see where you are going with this. And I like the idea. See below for the latest. Never simple with Ann.

Kara - Also a good option. Ann would inevitably ask how I was getting there, etc. See below and I will explain more . . .

Suz - it is complicated, like I said. Thus, red alert. I TOTALLY agree that she is jealous of my ability to tell a tale and use my hands and not care what people think.
She is trapped in her world of 'rules' and embellishing a story falls out of the parameters of what she finds normal. I do not mind helping her find ways to find happiness/fulfill this goal/need, AND I am fun to be with. :)

BUT - I am confident that the weekend would end badly - her frustrated, Beast bitchy towards her, etc. It is inevitable. I would like to say to Ann: "Don't you think letting go of something (ie the obsessiveness about seeing Beast's apartment) might bring you some happiness?"

That said, she would launch into all the things she has let go of (even though it is more of a list of things she has missed out on, not let go of), it would be a lengthy list and a long drive home: "I didn't get to go prom dress shopping with her, she never called me for such and such, she already doesn't care about my birthday. I've had it." Yet, seeing this kid's apartment is bucket list material.

So BEFORE ANYONE RESPONDED I decided to text her to see if I could get a bit more info. "What time would you be able to leave? Are you thinking you would drive with me? Are you planning to drive there yourself?" Because I realized that she would probably want a car to do separate things during the day. I crossed my fingers.

Her: I'm not planning on going . . . u will be with frat. Just want a quick excuse to see her house/friends.

I was blown away. So was this a guilt trip? Like, remember I told you months ago that if you were going to visit Ed, I wanted to go with you so I had an excuse to pop in and see my kid. I don't really have time for a quick trip and Ed is way too busy for me to drop in one weekend. Ann must have what Ann wants. We weren't raised this way. Not sure if this is a by-product of being in an abusive relationship or part of her obsessiveness with having everything just so. She exhausts me. The rest of the fam jumps through hoops for her. I feel like there is someone out there who can help her/ straighten out her head.

Three hours later she texted me and said: You can go there and facetime me maybe.

Sorry, that shit ain't happening. I don't have an iphone. I am not getting involved in trying to 'fix' this thing for her. Who the hell cares if she sees her apartment? Ask Beast to take a few photos. I feel wound tight at times, but holy mother - thankfully not to this extent about ANYTHING. It is draining.

Kari said...

I vote for the option where you stay home and get plastered.

By the way, Lake Geneva is one of my favorite places to go in Wisconsin. Probably because it's only a 40-minute drive away but they have two really good restaurants we love...Popeye's on the Lake (NOT the chicken chain) and The Red Geranium. Not sure if they have GF options but I know they have booze.

Good luck and let us know what you choose.

Busy Bee Suz said...

OMG. Your sister is gonna make me crazy too. I feel like I know her more from these latest texts; she should stay home for sure.

Beth Cotell said...

Sounds like your problem is solved! I'm glad you asked those questions because it probalby made her think more about how her tagging along was actually going to effect you! .

Bibliomama said...

I was also going to counsel saying you were driving with someone and the car was full. I'm glad you're off the hook, but I would give her tons of grace because the thought of my ex alienating my kids from me makes me nauseated and light-headed just thinking about it. She probably has PTSD, but I get that that doesn't make it any easier to deal with her. And why on earth do you call your niece Beast? I love that you don't know exactly where your husband is going - this has been me for years: "Matt's away next week in...Boston? Japan? Whatever, he's no use to me."

Ernie said...

Ali - I do try to give her a wide berth, but it does become challenging. Yes she for sure suffers from PTSD. I am of the mindset that she should seek professions help though. Instead she calls my folks while totally distraught and has shaved years off of their lives. She doesn't confide (or at least back in the thick of it) in girlfriends because she worries too much about what they think.

My niece was such a nice girl but she is so ungodly horrible to her mother/my sister now that I cringe when I am around her. She says things to my sister about how she would rather shop with the dad's live-in girlfriend because at least she has taste. It really isn't her 'fault'- she has learned this demeaning, insulting behavior from her dad, but it is ugly. It is horribly awkward because I am not supposed to 'know' some stuff about all of this, but my mom tells me at times. When I took Ed to visit the college last year, my niece and my sister were there. They sort of toured us around. Every word my sister said, niece sneered at and basically made her look dumb in a passive aggressive sort of way. It was very awkward and I tried to make light or make comments like 'Oh, I see why your mom would say that' but Beast just eye-rolled. Ed is all heart and he will stick up for my sis if Beast says anything unkind in his presence while they are both at the same school, but he also has told me that he completely sees how difficult it would be to have a mother so controlling and that he sort of doesn't blame Beast for shunning her.

My family completely blames Ann's ex, but they also gloss over Ann's control issues that have contributed to having all four of her kids keep their distance. It is very sad. I feel like a professional might be able to help her find better coping mechanisms or better tactics in how she deals with some of it. Two of her kids are out of college (and her oldest has come a long way- so he still communicates with her) and her two girls are in college. but live with their dad and avoid Ann at all cost.

Bibliomama said...

Got it. And I am now on board with the Beast moniker. I get having issues with your mother, but she's old enough to know that outright disrespect is seriously uncool.

Ernie said...

Ali- to correct Beast would also mean that she would run to her Dad and say 'Mom doesn't like such and such behavior,' and that would give him something to make fun of her for. It is an ugly mess.