Monday, November 28, 2005

Just going to post this once, then I'll get on with trying to be topical. But I'm just so hacked off that I have to vent.

I mentioned a while ago that I was very put off by a conversation at a Girl Scout meeting. To whit, the girls were all entering fourth grade, at which point they can begin learning a musical instrument, and I was put out of joint by a woman who spoke of renting a condominium at the ocean most of the summer, but refused to pay $60/month for music lessons.

I'll put in here that I'm no professional musician by any means, but playing instruments has enriched my life immeasurably. I still play—with my kids at home and with a drum and bugle corps.

Our kids go to parochial school. It's at my wife's insistence, but I go along because I have to. Instrumental music is not covered by tuition—it's provided by a contractor. It's apparently an across the board thing as the contractor holds a band competition each year and while most of the participants are parochial schools, secular private schools participate as well.

Last week we were watching the sister-in-law's spoiled brat daughter so that the sister-in-law could work her upwardly mobile job as a liquor store clerk while her husband worked a 12-8 shift as a Sheriff's Deputy. Sap that I am, I actually suggested that since the sister-in-law would pick her brat daughter up around 5:30 and her husband wouldn't get off work until after 8:00, maybe my wife could invite her sister and even her mother for dinner. Wasn't something I wanted by any means, but I thought it was a nice gesture.

Well, they accepted.

I should mention at this point that the sister-in-law goes on a Disney cruise every year, and other than her school uniforms, Princess wears only clothing purchased at the Disney Store.

Fed them well—pork chops, etc., and then the Bear decided to entertain everyone with her new-found skills on the clarinet. The Bear has been playing the clarinet for maybe four weeks now, but she can make it wail. (Yes, I know I'm biased, but she's good. Very good.)

In the ensuing conversation I began to mention how vexed I was with the couple who spend thousands of dollars on a condo in Ocean City each summer (a trashy resort if there ever was one) yet won't spring for a few bucks each month on their daughter's education.

At that point the sister-in-law blew a gasket and said I was describing her. I told her it was no such thing, I was simply relating my annoyance at a conversation I'd had back in September. She insisted I was talking about her. She said “You know we like big vacations”. She went on to say that she'd be d*mned if she'd pay for instrumental education simply because public school students don't have to. I passed on the opportunity to remind her that her kid isn't in public school.

Well, I should have struck back and said “Yeah, I know you value Disney more than your own daughter's education”, but I knew that would only set the wife off.

As it was, I sat there and took it because the wife ALWAYS sides with her idiots relatives, and to carry it any further would have ignited a bomb.

Well, minutes later Princess was laying out some toys and sister-in-law, who at age 44 has topped out as a cashier at a liquor store, told Princess she was stupid. At that point I simply got up and went downstairs.

They began to leave and I actually went up and bade all a fond (and hopefully permanent) goodbye. Then I turned to the wife and informed her that her sister was way out of line and owed me an apology. Her response?-----I should have seen it coming. I'm the bad guy.

I'm saddled with a moronic sister-in-law who would rather go on Disney cruises with her prissy husband than spend a few extra bucks to enhance her daughter's education, and I'm the bad guy?

We have given up a lot over the years, from my sister-in-law's perspective: Four grand to fund our son's trip to New Zealand and Australia as a Student Ambassador, two and a half grand so far invested in instrumental music and another grand + in musical instruments, countless dollars in sports fees and sports equipment...Hell, I can't count it all, because I don't. It's part and parcel of being a parent. I suppose I've given things up—I drive a 15-year old truck and the wife just informed me (in a less-than-understanding-fashion) that her vehicle just passed 280,000 miles. Funny thing is the wife is the one who insists on Parochial school (at over $1000/month), yet she's the one who complains about driving an older vehicle. At any rate, while I can cost out some things, such as Student Ambassador and music lessons, I don't make it a practice. I'm a dad and I want the best for my kids. From sister-in-law's point of view, I've given a lot up. From my point of view, I feel good that I've tried to provide the best for my kids. And I honestly don't mind driving an old truck. In a way it reminds me of where I've placed my priorities.


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