It’s Not Fair To Force Your Beliefs Unless They’re My Beliefs

, , , , , , | | Friendly | July 17, 2019

(I’m attending my local parent and baby group when a new mum arrives and sits next to me. We’re making polite conversation.)

New Mum: “Any plans for the rest of the week?”

Me: “Vaccinations are tomorrow, so I don’t think we’ll get much more done after that.”

New Mum: “Oh, I don’t believe in vaccinations.”

Me: *thinking, “Here we go,” and waiting for a lecture* “Oh, right.”

New Mum: “But I don’t think less of anyone who gets them. I even understand why you’d get them. I just don’t want to take any risks with autism. Anyway, your baby is lovely. How old is he?”

Me: *surprised that she’s not insane* “She’s a girl actually and she’s four months old.”

New Mum: “But you’ve dressed her in such boyish clothes.”

Me: “I’d say gender-neutral rather than boyish. It’s only jeans and a jumper, basically the same as I’m wearing.”

New Mum: “You shouldn’t dress her like that. She’s going to grow up confused and won’t know if she’s a boy or a girl. It’s really not fair of you to force your beliefs on her.”

(At this point, I realise she is crazy and a hypocrite, so I politely turn to the woman on my other side and start speaking to her, instead. The New Mum starts speaking to someone else and I mostly tune her out until she says this:)

New Mum: “Oh, I don’t give my son any toys. I don’t want him to become emotionally invested in material items.”

(Yep, definitely crazy.)

The Mother Of All Points Of View

, , , | | Related | July 15, 2019

(When my boyfriend and I start dating, he warns me that his mother is notorious for twisting things to suit her point of view. I have no idea how serious he is until I start hanging out at their house regularly. When I offer to cook dinner one night, she asks if I think she is incapable of feeding her own children. When she mentions hiring a babysitter, I offer to do it for free; she asks if I think she is looking for handouts. Finally, I just stop offering to do anything. One day, I am visiting my boyfriend and his family and they decide to go on a hike. I have asthma so I am a little worried, but I have my inhaler and everyone assures me it is an easy hike. This is a lie. It is six miles up a mountain and the humidity is so high, I have to stop to catch my breath several times. The last time I stop, my boyfriend goes ahead with his siblings and his mother stays behind with me. I am not happy about that arrangement to begin with, but when she starts talking, it gets worse.)

Mother: “Why do you do that?”

Me: “Do what?”

Mother: “Do whatever you think other people want you to do.”

Me: “Um… I just try to be helpful.”

Mother: “By undermining my parenting? How is that helpful?”

Me: “Undermining?”

Mother: “Offering to cook, doing the dishes, brushing [Youngest Girl]’s hair after her shower. You’re a suck-up and I don’t like it.”

Me: *still confused* “Oh… okay. I wasn’t trying to suck up, just… be helpful.”

Mother: “Well, you weren’t. And I don’t like your attitude, either.”

Me: “My attitude?”

Mother: “Yes. When you disagree with me. You’re welcome to have your own opinion, but you should keep it to yourself.”

Me: “I don’t… What did I say?”

Mother: “You openly disagree with me in front of my children, and then they think it’s okay to disagree with me, too!”

Me: “But I don’t understand. When did I disagree with you?”

Mother: “It doesn’t matter what it was about!”

Me: “I didn’t mean to undermine you or disagree with you. Can you give me an example so I can work on it?”

Mother: “I shouldn’t have to! It’s so simple! Don’t disagree with me! Do you know what [My Boyfriend] said the other day?”

Me: “Um… no?”

Mother: “He told me you two went out for sushi and miso soup.”

Me: “Yeah…?”

Mother: “Miso soup has soy! Soy makes boys gay! I told him he couldn’t eat soy products because it makes boys gay and he told me that you said it wasn’t true.”

Me: “Well, he’s not gay so… maybe it’s not.”

Mother: “That’s not the point!”

Me: “Wait. You use soy sauce all the time.”

Mother: “See?! Again, you’re just arguing with me!”

Me: *annoyed and sarcastic* “Okay. So, don’t be helpful, and don’t think for myself. Anything else?”

Mother: “Don’t be such a b****.”

Me: *stunned* “Wow. I can’t even… Really? Did you just call me a b****?”

Mother: *shrugs* “If it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.”

Me: “Okay. I’m going to go back to the bottom now.”

Mother: “I knew you couldn’t do this hike. Pity, too, because the view from the top is beautiful.”

Me: “Nope. Can’t do it. I might have my own thoughts and decide to shove someone off a cliff.”

(I went back down and, as we all drove together, waited for them to return. While I was gone, the mother told my boyfriend about our conversation and how rude I was the whole time. I told him my side of the story and he rolled his eyes. He told me to just ignore her antics. We were together for a few more months, but we eventually broke up because I just couldn’t stand his mother anymore. Her tirades kept getting worse and she soon started attacking my family — even though she had never met them — for raising me the way they did. He hates me now, of course, because I didn’t break up with him for something he did. I felt awful for doing it but I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of my life listening to her talk to me like that.)

Having Cheap Parents Is A Wild Ride

, , , , , | | Related | July 15, 2019

(My wife and I are waiting at a well-known theme park in Florida. There is a family beside us — a father, mother, and two teenage daughters. Everyone is waiting for the rope drop when we overhear the following exchange between the father and one of the teenage daughters.)

Teenage Daughter: “Ooh, I can’t wait to go on the rides. I’m not going on any of the scary rides.”

Father: “We’re going on all the rides.”

Teenage Daughter: “Not the scary ones.”

Father: “We’re going on all the rides.”

Teenage Daughter: “No, I’m not going on anything scary.”

Father: “You begged me to come here. I paid 800 f****** dollars for these tickets. You’re going on every f****** ride.”

Teenage Daughter: *now nearly crying* “But I don’t want to go on the scary ones.”

Father: *glaring* “Every f****** ride!”

(Welcome to the happiest place on earth.)

Get Her A Book On How Libraries Work

, , , , | | Learning | July 14, 2019

(During my school holidays, I work for a while in the library of a combined elementary and middle school. This particular school is very near the town’s library. Our books and theirs are all clearly labelled with the respective institution names. However, we frequently get students returning the town library’s books to us and vice versa. The school’s policy is to not help them to return it to the town library, so that they will learn not to make this mistake. I’m used to it, as they’re kids, and they usually get it after a simple explanation. And then, you get this:)

Parent: “My son got a call from the library saying they still owe books, but he returned them all last week!”

(The school does not call to chase for books; we have a more relaxed policy and don’t even fine for overdue books. The mention of the call is enough for me, but most customers aren’t satisfied until you actually show them the record.)

Me: “Okay, let me check the system.” *pulls up the record* “Ma’am, the system shows that he doesn’t have any books on loan.”

Parent: “Yes, they’re from the town library.”

Me: “Oh, in that case, you need to call them to check with them.”

Parent: “But he returned it! I was waiting downstairs; he said he was going to run to the library and drop them in the book drop.” *points to our book drop*

Me: “He returned the town library’s books here?”

Parent: “Yes! So, why are there still books on his account?!”

Me: “Ma’am, our system is different from the town library’s system. He cannot return their books here, or vice-versa.”

Parent: “Yes, he can! My son said he can!”

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, he may put the books into our book drop, but if we scan it, it won’t be found in our system record. We will see that it’s not one of ours and put it aside for the student to come back to collect it.”

Parent: “Why didn’t you inform us?”

Me: “We do not have any record of which student borrowed the book.”

Parent: “But he borrowed it; it should show his name!”

Me: *patiently* “But our system is different from the town library’s; it will not show the name of the person who borrowed it.”

(The parent keeps this up for some time. I’m trying my best to explain it patiently, but she doesn’t get it. The elementary school students understand this better than she does! I end up using the dumbed-down parallel I give to the younger students.)

Me: “It’s just like if you go [Famous Fast Food Chain]; you cannot buy a [Rival Chain’s Signature Burger] because they are different stores.”

Parent: “You must have the book on the shelf. You can check the shelf and see that he did return it!”

(I check the cupboard where we keep the town library’s books that have ended up in our book-drop, but we do not have the title that the parent mentioned.)

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, we don’t have it. Are you sure he returned it here?”

Parent: “Yes, he did. Why won’t you believe me?” *points insistently at our book-drop* “I’ll get him to come and prove it!”

Me: “Okay, you can ask him to come by.”

(Would you believe it, some days later, the parent comes back again. This time, she has complained to the school office, who apparently was finally able to get through to her that our library systems are different.)

Parent: “My son returned the town library’s books here. Do you have them?”

Me: *checking to see if they have been found over the last few days* “Yes, here you go.”

Parent: “The person who called me said there’s a fine for overdue books.”

Me: “You’ll have to check with the town library, as [School]’s library does not implement a fine for late returns.”

Parent: “But it’s not fair! We shouldn’t have to pay a fine!”

Me: “Sorry, I have no control over that.” 

(I have a feeling I know what’s coming. Sure enough, she delivers.)

Parent: “No, I shouldn’t have to pay! My son returned it here!” *points petulantly to our book drop* “How can you charge me when I returned it here?!”

Me: *facepalm* 

(I mean, I can excuse a kid for not being able to tell the difference, but this is an adult in her forties!)

A Gender-Fluid Household

, , , , , | | Related | July 13, 2019

(These stories are from over 15 years ago. My biological dad ran out on me and my mum when I was a baby, so since infancy, I lived with my mum, my aunt, and my grandmother in varying combinations. No dudes around, which meant that as an 11-year-old male, I have picked up some slightly strange habits. Mum has been dating this guy for about two years and I love him, and he loves me. She decides it’s time for us to move in with him. On the second night in our new place, I go and shower and come out wrapped in my towel as always.) 

Stepdad: *sitting on the couch reading, looks up at me and snorts* “Mate… what are you doing?”

Me: “Showering?”

Stepdad: “Well, yeah, but… Okay, so you don’t have boobs to hide, right?”

Me: *indignant* “No!”

Stepdad: “Right. Well, you can wrap the towel just around your waist, then. You’ve also only got short hair, so you don’t need to wrap it up like that…”

(Yep, I’ve been wearing the towel wrapped around me up under my arms and wrapping up my hair turban style. It never occurred to me why my female relatives did that and it had honestly never occurred to Mum to correct me. She laughs and apologizes after [Stepdad] tells her I am lucky I’ve never showered at school or I’d be a laughing stock. This must pique his interest into other things I might have picked up because for the next couple weeks interactions like this are pretty normal. I’m washing my face before bed as always, when my stepdad wanders into the bathroom.)

Stepdad: *snorts again* “Mate. Use the soap, or just water.”

Me: *indignant* “Mum uses this!”

Stepdad: *very gently* “I know, bud, but that’s makeup remover.”

(A few mornings later, I’m getting ready for school. As always, Mum has already left for work, but my stepdad works from home. Again, he walks past the bathroom as I’m doing my morning stuff. He does a double-take and I can see he’s trying to formulate a nice way to bring something up.)

Stepdad: “Uh… Uh, hey, bud?”

Me: “Yeah?”

Stepdad: “Look. If you want to wear it, I’ll back you completely but… you do know that’s mascara, right?”

Me: “Yeah, so?”

Stepdad: “Well, nothing, mate. Just… most blokes don’t wear it because it’s makeup.”

Me: “WHAT?!”

Stepdad: *giggling* “Well, at least you were taking it off at night!”

(I didn’t know it was makeup. I thought everyone wore it; it was the only makeup my mother wore except lipstick for a fancy night out or something, and I knew THAT was makeup but assumed everyone wore mascara. Another night:)

Stepdad: “Mate, did you use my razor?”

Me: “Yeah, sorry. I couldn’t find Mum’s.”

Stepdad: “No worries, mate. Didn’t realise you shaved already! I didn’t have to shave until I was fifteen. We’ll get you your own.”

Me: *excited* “Thank you! Can we get the pale blue ones Mum uses? Yours was really sharp; I cut myself a few times.”

Stepdad: *looking at my face* “Are you using it against the grain, bud? I can’t see any cuts…”

(I roll up my pant leg to show him a couple of cuts on my ankle.)

Me: “Nah, just these ones, and one on my underarm. What’s ‘against the grain’ mean?”

Stepdad: *trying desperately not to laugh* “All right, we need to have a chat…”

(A few weeks later, after he gently corrected a few things – -and told me many times if I wanted to keep doing things the old way that I could, but he knew I was clueless about how men did things — he watches me bring my two glasses of water out of my bedroom the same way I do every morning.)

Stepdad: “Thirsty last night, mate? You could have used one cup. I bloody hate doing the dishes.”

Me: “But you need two. One isn’t for drinking.”

Stepdad: *looking at me confused* “What do you mean?”

Me: “Grandma always has two. One for drinking and the other one sits there. She always told me not to drink from the other cup.”

Stepdad: *bursts out laughing* “Bud, the other cup was for her teeth.”

(Chalk that one up to child stupidity rather than only having female role models. He really was the most gentle and accepting man helping a prepubescent boy figure out what he wanted to do and what he was doing just because he’d always seen his mum doing it. I’m SO GLAD he was around before I started high school; I can’t imagine that would have been a pleasant experience doing things the way I’d always done them. To this day, he is kind and gentle and my number-one supporter in everything I do. Now I have my own baby boy and Dad likes to crack jokes like, “He’s getting big! We’ll have to get him his own razor soon.” I love my dad.)

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