Sunday, November 25, 2007

inner child rantings


My family recently returned from a holiday gathering with my mother and step dad in Houston. We will be making a sequel trip to Canada next month, so our Houston trip was thanksgiving and christmas rolled into one.

Even when it’s not a holiday, my parents shower our kids and us with gifts and stuff.

That’s ok, I suppose. Gifts are nice. Who doesn’t like receiving them?

Although our kids are very young, it’s getting out of hand I think. They are starting to equate grandparents with presents. I don’t like that. But maybe that’s the grumpy, down-to-earth dad in me.

I think there’s something about my parents and that generation. It’s something about how they prefer showing love with a checkbook. I personally think throwing money at something is the easy way to deal with anything (that is, if you actually HAVE money - even a little). There’s little if any commitment.

Like handing $5 to the homeless guy with the "hungry" sign instead of asking him to join you for lunch at a table.

Of course, I wasn’t seeking any deep thoughts or commitments when I opened up my French press coffee brewer gift. I practically cried. I’ve wanted one of those for 10 years.

I mean seriously. I’m not trying to be some ungracious punk. Am I?

Call me a jackass. But ever since I was a teen or young adult I’ve always wanted family, including aunts, uncles, and grandparents, to ask me things like:

Who are you B?

What kind of things are important to you and why?

And honestly, I’d like to be able to ask those same questions back to them.

Swimming is harder work in the deep end. But its benefits usually stick around much longer.

13 comments:

NaNcY said...

agent b,
when it comes to family...we always expect something different that what we get.
nancy

Agent B said...

Yeah well...after 36 such years on earth, I've observed that too Nancy. So, thanks.

But WHY is that? I mean, WHY can't family members be REAL with each other? EVER? Or at least try?

Mark said...

b, it seems you and i have the same family. :) i don't know why family (particularly extended family members for me) can't find the balls to sit down and talk to each other about things that matter. is it because they know they're stuck with you for life and whatever comes out of your mouth (revealing who you really are) they'll have to deal with it for the rest of their lives? I suppose its just like our culture - we'd rather medicate it, mayblene it, or just make it go away.

You're not wrong to ease your kids away from seeing their grandparents as slot machines, but I don't really have any constructive solutions for you at this point in my life.

B, just keep being the great dad that you are. In the long run, your kids will appreciate that way more than gifts.

Agent B said...

"is it because they know they're stuck with you for life and whatever comes out of your mouth (revealing who you really are) they'll have to deal with it for the rest of their lives?"

Good point Mark.

Yes, it's easier to toss the homeless guy $5...

trish said...

A french press- woo hoo, coffee at B's house. Okay so I know I missed the point, but sometimes over the course of connecting with people we delight in the little things like good coffee and dark beer.
You definitely have learned the art of acceptance. I believe acceptance is the true language of love, or at least a noun in the language. Even while anguishing over situations that make you cringe, I believe, face to face you would respond the way your truth in love directs. AS for family- I still think the classic line, "emanicipate yourself from mental slavery" (Bob)applies. We build up these expectations of roles that might be fulfilled by our parents and children, even siblings and friends. We either choose to move through the ways they do or do not fit the bill or we become polite and passive. Passivity and acceptance of a person are two different things. One implies that you acknowledge who they are and choose relationship, the other is almost an acknowledgement of who they aren't and you do not want to upset the balance by prying. Thus you keep yourself in a prison of self imposed isolation. ( By "you" I mean most of us in that situation.)You are a swimmer B. Thanks for making the call when it is needed and thanks for being a friend to my family. I pray the remainder of your holidays be filled with opportunites to speak your heart and be heard as well as, open your heart and hear.

NaNcY said...

"But WHY is that? I mean, WHY can't family members be REAL with each other? EVER? Or at least try?"

well, that is a good question. i really do not know..but, i can venture that it has something to do with expectations of ourselves learned throuth expectations put upon us through our family, thus, expectations of wanting things to be real. maybe it starts by just being continually being real and loving toward our family ourselves and then letting them respond in their own way. what if we did this...and continued to do this. some would respond with their real fealings and thoughts, some would shut down and out, some would be shocked, who knows? but, what do you think?

NaNcY said...

actually this is a good post and something i need to think about in my place and thinking in my family.

JesusFreak said...

Um, can I be adopted by your parents? It really sucks when my kids don't get ANY gifts.

And I am totally jealous about the french press. I keep trying to be fancy with my coffee but so far I have only made it to folger's "special" brew. I'm so lame.

Agent B said...

Trish -

Thanks for the words. Come over for french press coffee soon. We leave for Canada Dec 11.

Or bring beer.

Agent B said...

Nancy:

"maybe it starts by just being continually being real and loving toward our family ourselves and then letting them respond in their own way."

I think I've been doing this. At least...I know I haven't played along or been an actor for about 18 years.

The results so far: same ole shallowness.

But I think the raising of our kids and the way we chose to do so impresses my mother. Especially in light that many of my friends from church growing up (that she still knows and goes to church with) have screwed up lives, kids, and are mostly divorced by now.

So, like all things...maybe it's just in the action, or living as opposed to saying "hey, why can't we shoot straight".

I don't know.

Agent B said...

JF:

Sorry if I came across sounding unappreciative for these gifts. I know there's folks like you who kill for a situation like this.

But we have THREE sets of grandparents here...

As for the french press, I still can't make it taste up to Trish standards. Maybe it's my cheap coffee.

NaNcY said...

hi again...hope this i am not getting to be a bother...however, i will chance it, because i read a post today that kinda talks about what you are talking about.

http://godhungry.org/?p=817

titled..."Everything is Just Fine"

JesusFreak said...

B, I totally didn't mean it that way. I don't discount your feelings about the whole thing. My situation isn't the worst by any means. I would really like it too if my "parents" would just spend some time with my kids too.