I understand that being unemployed and having to move back in with relatives can cause a lot of stress, and I really do have a lot of sympathy for anyone going through this, and especially for those who don’t have the safety net of family and friends to fall back on. But this recent article in the New York Times, while clearly designed to highlight the stresses of moving back in with your parents, really illustrated the stresses of moving back in with your parents when you’re all assholes. I know that’s harsh, but let me provide some evidence.
The story opens with a litany of impatience, short-tempers, and passive aggresiveness:
A nudge from Kathy Maggi for her 26-year-old daughter, Holly, to clean her room sparks a blow-up; an offhand comment by Jim Maggi about the way bills come in “month after month” to his daughter’s fiancé, James Wilson, causes days of smoldering; a bite of a chocolate bar from Grandma to 21-month-old Madison leads to frustrated chatter behind closed doors about “Nana” and “Pawpaw” spoiling her.
Then there is the fiance’s frankness in speaking with the reporter. Now you may be interested in honestly sharing your tale of woe with the nation, but keep in mind you’re going to still be living with them tomorrow when the paper arrives, and will probably be sitting across from them at the breakfast table when they read this:
“I liked her family when we weren’t here,” said Mr. Wilson, who has struggled to mesh his more reserved personality with the garrulousness of Ms. Maggi’s family. “Now that we’re here, I don’t like them. I feel bad about it. I don’t think it’s their problem, or something that can be helped. It is what it is.”
Saying it’s not something they can help doesn’t really sugar coat “I don’t like you”.
And there’s this:
Over time, Kathy Maggi’s regular chirping about how to deal with Madison and her sometimes-differing approach — she prefers, for example, not to let her granddaughter cry, even though Mr. Wilson and Holly Maggi sometimes think she needs to — has rankled Mr. Wilson. “I don’t think she feels Madison is safe when she’s with me,” he said.
I’m not a parent, but maybe what’s going on here is that the grandparents just don’t feel like listening to the little girl cry all the time? If I had a houseguest whose child was frequently crying, I think I’d also probably start hinting that maybe they should encourage her to give it a rest too. Also the last sentence makes Mr.Wilson an asshole if he’s wrong, and the grandmother an asshole if he’s right.
And here, halfway through the second page, is the kicker:
….the couple spend most of their time in their bedroom, with Madison dashing in and out. Most of their possessions, including a 75-gallon fish tank with two giant South American cichlids and a South American catfish, occupy a second bedroom.
What?! You brought your catfish with you? I would gladly extend my home to a relative on hard times, but not to their god damned catfish and 75-gallon fish tank. Sell that thing and use the money to pay some bills so the grandfather doesn’t have to keep passive aggressively mentioning how the bills keep coming “month after month”.