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April 20, 2020

this was initially a caption,plus: just say no


I initially typed this up as a very lengthy caption.  I know, you're shocked.  And the last part of the caption was:  Sheesh, I guess this could have been its own post.  Then I had a great idea . . . so in true long-winded, trying not to be format, I made it a post.

My sister Ann, the nurse, posted a photo in our family group chat of her wearing a mask -several weeks ago now.  "New protocol"  I responded that the girls and I are making 16 masks. (So far only one has turned out like it is made for a shrunken head).  It was meant to be a 'hey there nurse, we are doing what we can over here' kind of text.  After the responses, I reminded myself why I prefer friends over family . . . 

Aunt Leprechaun, my sister in law who is from Ireland and who is a doctor, 
texted:  "Ernie, are you using a pattern?"  Does anyone else find that passive aggressive? 

No Leprechaun, I just grabbed a few old, dirty socks from the backseat of my car (doesn't everyone have old, dirty socks in their car?), fastened a rubber band around them and figured this looked about right.  Hello? 

Joann's had video tutorials on their website.  Duh.  Then Ann texted:  
"Who will take them though?" I let her know that Joann's collects them and they distribute them.   (updating:  Joann's doesn't do that anymore but I did give some away to people in a Facebook page and then sent the rest to a doctor in California who I was matched with through a website called 'mask -match'.)

Like, huh?  Is it me?  Why are my family members trying to poo-poo my efforts here.  I am not off my rocker.  There is a demand for masks and I'm not the only person making them.  

I am thinking I either need a new family, or just a different group chat.  Right?
*************************************************************************
So, that 'caption' happened a few weeks ago.  Then a few days later, Ann, aka the most controlling person in the universe, emailed the family.

She decided that it would be a good idea to make a photo book for my dad's 80th b-day in May featuring all 22 grandchildren.  One kid to a page.  "All I need from each of you . . . "  She went on to list how she wanted us to each submit 6 photos of each of our kids.  1 with dad, 1 when they are little, 1 when they are, blah, blah.  No school photos, they must all be candids.  "I prefer the photo with the kid and dad to have no other kids in the photo.  Then each kid is to send me a note about why they love Da."  

Ann lives alone, because her kids all eventually moved in with their dad.  Long story.  She is a nurse, and is working in post op at a children's hospital but probably scaled down hours.  She admitted that she needed a project during the pandemic.  

Um, I have my own projects during the pandemic.  Thanks.

My brother, Pat, emailed back first stating that because he and Leprechaun don't have their photos all that organized he was not sure he would be able to gather what she needed.  Coach was like:  good, you are not alone.  Just say no.  (foreshadowing/double meaning for those of you who didn't score high in high school English)

I drafted a response.  Read it to Coach and hit send.  No other siblings ever commented.  The end.  Or so I thought.    

Oh, my response:  Nice idea. We are too busy to pull this together. Lots going on. Mom and dad's house is covered in photos of the kids anyway. I suggest each family just send their own notes and cards. Maybe we can do dinner to celebrate at a later date. 


A few days later Mini called out to me:  Aunt Ann is on our deck with her dog and she doesn't seem mad.  *If that is what your niece says about your arrival (which Ann did not hear because Mini is smarter than that), then something is wrong.  

We chatted from a distance for a few minutes.  She didn't mention the project.  

A week and a half ago my sewing machine broke.  Boo hiss.  The shop was not sure when they'd have time to fix it.  Mini got some time practicing her driving on Thursday and we picked up Ann's machine that she said we could borrow.  

I called to say that we were there and she placed it out on her porch and she said into the phone:  So, I have most of the pictures that I need.  I just need you to get the rest and then have the kids send me their notes.  

She was on Bluetooth and Mini looked like her eyes might bug-outta her head.  This made more sense.  My sister can't function unless she gets her way.  I said I would talk to her later.

I could've called this post when it rains it fucking monsoons, because I came home to a skunk ass smell in the basement and my son high as a kite.  Like what part of NOT IN OUR HOUSE is hard to understand?

Coach could not come home immediately because:  patients.  Plus the coworker with the fever was out and he was double booked.  

I was beside myself and then guess what . . . Ann started in with her text messages.  "I am doing all the work, you just have to . . . "

My text to her:  What part of 'we are not participating' is hard for you to understand?

I tried to call my brother Mike.  He is sane with an unobstructed view of things.  He texted that he was on a call and would get back to me.  

Ann continued to text.  She started a group chat with me and my kids and her demands.  I knew if I responded it was going to get ugly.  I looked at her messages between my calls to Coach, can you say TIMING?  I begged him to get home and address what we both fear is a cannabis addiction.  

I finally called her and calmly stated that I had lots going on at the moment (total understatement, because there is also the other thing I keep alluding to that is taking up a good bit of time, energy, and stress, plus I am taking a writing class and unlike her I have 6 kids living under my roof and I DON'T NEED HER SHIT RIGHT NOW).  

Here is the thing about Ann.  I decided.  She can only live in her own little world and cannot understand anyone else's.  I am not sharing stuff that is happening with me, not even the writing class.  None of her business.  I took a pass on her project that my dad would think was nice, but he will not care  about all that much.  

So, when I said to her over the phone:  lots going on at the moment, she pulled her usual scoff, sneering sound at me.  "Oh stop it, Ernie, just have the kids find the pictures then."  My whole life she has done that, not cared - accused me of being over-dramatic.  MY SHIT IS REAL!

Now I invited the principle-of-the-thing into my mindset (hey, the acronym for that is P.O.T.T., just saying) and that was that.  I will not cow tie to her and her passive aggressive shit.  

Mike called me back.  I told him in a voice shaking with emotion things like:  really full plate, I don't want to get into it.  I know she won't be happy if she isn't getting her way, but now I just refuse based on principle.  Really busy.  I will not be involved with this.  You're the only sibling I can call.  

He agreed.  I told him about the conversation I had with our niece and I told him I will no longer sit at family gatherings and stare at the floor with a knot in my stomach and listen to Ann badmouth and belittle her children.  She needs help.  He agreed, although he doesn't think she will change.  I don't think she will either, but God help her if she bitches about how her kids don't talk to her if she is not willing to TRY to get help.  
Feel like this post can use a little humor.
 Check out this Easter photo from years
 ago.  This is Curly, the victim of older brothers
who shoved plastic Easter eggs down her shirt.
  I laugh every time I see it and I came across
 it as I try to figure out albums and where
 I left off and what I still need to order.

I hung up with Mike and Tank tiptoed into the dining room where I was ironically organizing my picture albums.  That is one of my chosen projects, you see.  But I am not going to halt my project (that I barely have time for) to search for photos that she wants.  

Anyway, Tank alerted me:  crazy Ann had started ANOTHER group text,  just my kids and not me.  Instructing them on what they needed to do.  

Oh, no she di-in-t.  

Even Ed was like,  "I am not writing what I love about Da on a post-it note for her to put in a photo book.  I can write it in a card and hand it to him.  (OK, mail)  What am I 5 years old?"

I texted her back and pointed out that my kids speak to me, and they shared her secret group text and she better back off.  

Things escalated this morning (Sunday) with Lad.  Coach and I are done with the 'I made a mistake.  It won't happen again' BS.  It was very upsetting and we almost called the police.  Poor Curly was sobbing.  Things simmered down by dinner, but I am literally feeling like a prisoner in my own home.  So, if you invite me - I will gladly come over and hang out with you at your house, oh . . . wait.  

Mini and I went for our walk after the 'explosion'.  I see one particular  friend on my walk every once in a while but not once since the pandemic.  I kid you not, I thought it would be good to see her.  She would know what to say.  Three steps later, she came around the corner.  Divine intervention?  We chatted from a distance and she offered an air hug, some suggestions and let me know we are not alone in this.  

As Mini and I walked mostly in silence, because I was on the verge of tears, I told her:  if Ann texts me today and says ONE THING about pictures, I swear to God . . .   Mini couldn't help but giggle.  

13 comments:

Busy Bee Suz said...

First: The photo is hilarious and should be shared at her graduation party and wedding reception.

Your sister is a piece of work. Are you sure you're related? She certainly has control issues and I really don't think that she has the capability to change or to see other's perspectives. Sad.

I don't even know what to say about the pot issue. Do you really think he's addicted? It's crazy that he knows YOU know he's doing it, but he still proceeds.
Sigh.

I wish I had some good advice.

Ernie said...

Suz - yes, that pic is a keeper and will be shared often during Curly's future milestones. I have another one of Mini that cracks me up. She is about 4 and the boys shoved every ball we owned inside of her footie pajamas. She could barely walk. Ah, brothers.

My sister is a piece of work. I believe her ex was a sick and twisted man, but she is no picnic. Maybe what she went thru with him exaggerated her need for control. I don't even remember anymore what she was like before she married him in 1991. I do know that she was rarely nice to me when we were younger. Basically because I was not like her. Praise God.

Lad definitely has a problem. Is he using pot to cover something that is hard for him to deal with? He cannot own his behavior. Always has an excuse. Always someone else's fault. If it was just recreational why would he be trying to use the basement stove to smoke something after Coach took his bong or pipe or whatever Coach found one day? Ed admitted that Lad was smoking daily early on. We think that prompted him to jump on the plane back to New York. Get more stuff. It all hit the fan yesterday because Coach realized that Lad found where he hid the stuff he took from him (which means he was desperate because he had to have looked EVERYWHERE), which explains how he was able to get high on Thursday. He certainly isn't going anywhere. I texted the therapist for 3 or 4 days before he finally responded yesterday. Supposed to meet via zoom today but now the time we chose won't work for Lad, and the therapist is back to not responding.

Beth Cotell said...

I find your sister highly annoying and frustrating! I'm not sure how you haven't told her off long before now. And I'm so sorry you are having this issue with Lad. It does sound like he is addicted and will need an intervention before it escalates into something worse. Having to deal with all of this, in general, would be hard enough but having all of this going on during quarantine is horrible. Hang in there and I hope and pray that everything gets better soon for you all.

Charlie said...

Good for you standing up to your sister. I bet that surprised her! I’m so sorry to read about Lad and his smoking habit. I do hope that it’s more of a college habit than addiction, but you’re right to be taking it so seriously. You are amazing with all you have going on Ernie. I really do admire your ability to plough through it all.

Ernie said...

Beth - my sister IS highly annoying and frustrating, so you got that one right. I have told her off in the past - more than once. She didn't talk to me for a solid year because I named Reg the same name as her older son. It was my favorite name when I got married and Coach loved the name and hello, I had FOUR boys. She.Must.Get.Her.Way. Totally weird.

I honestly feel so empty and disgusted right now with the Lad situation. I said horrible things to him on Sunday. I admit that. I just don't get getting stoned in your folks' house and being caught and denying it and swearing to not do it again and then doing it again. And again. Coach gets to go to work and breeze in after the fireworks and speak calmly. I don't have that luxury - or that temperament. I don't know where to go from here. Feeling lower than I think I ever have, to be honest. I sincerely appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Charlie - Thanks, Charlie. I don't think my sister was surprised that I stood up to her because if anyone is going to - it is going to be me. The rest of them walk on eggshells with her. I think that is why she tried to ignore my initial email and continue on with the project assuming she could just bulldoze me later on.

I don't think this thing with Lad is just a college habit. Like Coach says, Lad has demons. There has to be a better way to deal. It has gotten incredibly ugly and I cannot escape. Feeling beyond trapped. Might just go climb in my bed and read the rest of the night.

Nicole said...

That...sounds like a lot of work, about the photos. For me, I would rather just do my own thing anyway.

I think that a lot of people would appreciate the masks you have made! They look great!

Kari Wagner Hoban said...

So much to talk about but I won't get to all of it because ADHD.
Maybe your sister was asking about the pattern because she wanted to share it? OF course, you know her and I only know of her from the blog, but I am trying to find a positive.

I get that your sister wants to make your dad's birthday special, especially in light of the lockdown, which most likely will still be in place on his actual birthday. But yes, it does sound a little annoying that she is controlling all of it. Just a suggestion of writing a note and mailing it to her or "include any pictures that are special to you", would have been much better. It sounds like control issues run rampant with your siblings. EESH.

As far as the issue with Lad, I might have missed it but I am assuming it's because of the weed? Or was he the one who went to NY? I can't keep up, apparently but this shouldn't surprise you lol. I hope all is okay with him and you and some agreement can be reached.

Xoxo

Ernie said...

Nicole - I agree, lots of work. And I do have my pictures fairly well organized. Some of my siblings really do not but they are probably feeling compelled to find exactly what she demanded to not upset her. I honestly feel zero guilt. I also think we are at an age where we can all recognize him in our own way.

I do think the masks will be handy for people. I am picking up my sewing machine today and now that it has been tuned up and is not going to struggle along I hope to whip up several more masks.

Kari - No, my sis-in-law and sister were not trying to share the pattern. My sister frown on anything that she did not come up with. My sis in law is just high and mighty, Hi, I'm a doctor. Puke.

Ann is a pain in the ass. For my folks' 50th she organized a surprise party and offered a list of tasks that we could help with. I have software to make movies and so I said I would do a video that would take care of her photo slideshow requirement. She became IRATE. Calling me and emailing me with choice words demanding that I just do a slideshow. She DID NOT WANT a video. She wanted a slideshow that she could then use at their funerals. What? I ended up doing both and some of my parents' friends sent me personal notes afterwards about how touching the video was and how they appreciated all of the work I must have put into it.

All of the above was Lad: weed, New York, etc. He is our biggest challenge and this need for weed has really upset the apple cart here. Coach and I try to imagine what our folks would have done if they had caught us smoking pot in the house REPEATEDLY. In typical fashion he is not able to recognize his flaws and his issues and it is always someone else's fault. This situation honestly has me at an all time low.

angie said...

I’m a new reader and maybe this has been addressed. But is it possible your son has ADHD and is using marijuana to self-medicate in order to feel more “normal “? I could be wrong but it’s been my experience that people with ADHD tend to self-medicate with nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs. I wish you and your family the very best moving forward.

Ernie said...

Angie - welcome to my blog - I apologize for the 'downer' subject matter, come back another time and hopefully you will stumble on some humor. Yes, Lad has ADD - no hyperactivity. He often sees himself as the victim and struggles to own his behavior. It is incredibly frustrating. My other son with ADD has more academic concerns. Lad has some academic issues but I think the rest of what he has going on can be attributed to something unrelated to ADD. It is incredibly frustrating.

Bibliomama said...

OH FUCK ALL THE WAY OFF, ANN. Seriously, 36 pictures of made-to-order subjects? No other kids in them? Who actually has access to that? And then goes behind your back to your kids? Holy shit. Maybe you guys should steal all of Lad's pot and smoke it, at least then he can't steal it back. Kidding - I have a feeling there are serious issues here, but I just don't know what to say. What a horrible time for it all to come to a head. Best of luck. And tell Ann I said to go fuck herself. Seriously.

Bibliomama said...

Oh, and that picture is adorable.

Ernie said...

Ali - DAY MADE - OMG, I just burst out laughing my ass off in my study. Not sure which is funnier us stealing Lad's pot or telling Ann to go fuck herself. Coach and I were JUST talking on the deck, because hello - pandemic is a privacy bomb. I actually said I think this pandemic was a good thing - we are not just seeing Lad for snippets between school and then just evenings while he is working. We are getting the full monty. And we are formulating a plan. He needs help and this was a close up encounter for us, not ideal - but I believe strongly that things happen for a reason. We are hoping that he agrees to go along with our plan. Anyway - holy shit did I need a laugh, and you delivered.

And, I do love a funny baby picture. If anyone has 36 photos of specific poses it is probably me because I took a ga-zillion pictures of my little guys. Still, not doing it. Not right now especially.