A Not So Silent Night

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The plan to post the Buffer Zone Survey responses every day or three has turned into every month or three. What are you gonna do? Real life happens.

Anyway, Sherri Matthews, who blogs at www.sherrimatthewsblog.com, the loveliest blogger you could ever meet, leads our return. Not that I have actually met her in person, I just feel as if I have through her honest, yet heartwarming, inspiring posts. A View From My Summerhouse contains posts ranging from the knocks she has encountered in her life to delightful pictures of the English countryside.

The Buffer Zone Survey Question: Without naming names, who is the relative in your family that causes all the drama? And what incident best illustrates their craziness, “personality” or friction they bring to your family?

Sherri’s response: “By the time I was married and given birth to my first child (31 years ago!) my dad’s drinking had rendered him homeless, living in and out of shelters and getting into trouble. Christmas was approaching and I found out out that he was going to be alone in a shelter not too far from us so we agreed as a family to have him over for Christmas Day at my mother’s house where we could all gather and keep an eye on him.
I was young and dumb enough to still believe that my Dad would ‘recover’ from his alcoholism and besides, he had convinced us that he was on a ‘special programme’ whereby he could drink, but just a couple of beers a day. Right!! Well, of course it went completely pear-shaped. Even though we hid all the booze he found a decanter of my mother’s sherry first thing in the morning while he pretended to help with the dishes and by noon he was plastered.
Nobody knew though because he hid it so well (alcoholics do this) but I knew. He got shirty with me about something and I answered him back and that was it. He ended up getting in a punch up with my brother and we had to call the police. Dad disappeared into the night refusing all help and that was that. Sad to say, we never invited my Dad for Christmas again but then we didn’t need to worry because prison took care of that. Families eh? (Dad is 81 now and has been in and out of prison ever since this Christmas episode).”

Families. What are you gonna do? Days like that either break us or endow us, like Sherri, with resilience, grace, and optimism that we can do better. Thank you for sharing a private and personal day, and reminding us, that real life, sometimes funny but often not, happens.

Mother’s Day Mayhem

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A much needed and fabulous week in Quebec has me playing catch up on blog posts. I’m going to jump back into blogosphere with the rest of our survey responses.

The Buffer Zone Dysfunctional Family Survey results are in and the goal is to post one every day or so or three. The main question of our survey was: Without naming names, who is the relative in your family that causes all the drama? And what incident best illustrates their craziness, “personality” or friction they bring to your family?

“Recently engaged, my fiancé and I attended a church service on Mother’s Day with my soon-to-be mother-in-law and sister-in-law. After a sweet sermon on the importance of mothers in our lives, as well as women who mother us, and the hymns were sung, the pastor invited all mothers to take one of the small potted petunias displayed in the foyer. My husband’s sister was beaming as she proudly carried her petunia in front of her 2nd trimester belly.

As the mothers began to leave the sanctuary and collected their petunias, it was evident that the church had purchased too many plants. The pastor then invited ALL the ladies in attendance to take home a petunia, so I picked one up off the table and casually walked out the front door. My (now) sister-in-law stormed out the door after me, and slung her petunia down the front steps, shattering the pot on the sidewalk below. She actually stamped her foot like a toddler, and proceeded to rant about the unfairness of it all. How would anyone identify her and other mothers if just anyone got a petunia? What was the meaning of Mother’s Day if non-mother’s got a gift? She continued her hissy fit until my (now) mother-in-law shushed her. The other members of the congregation just glanced at her as they filed out. At the time, I thought they pretended not to see her tantrum in order to save my mother-in-law any embarrassment, but I know now that they were just used to her behavior. And, I’m sorry to say, I now am also.”

My goodness me, what a sterling example of Christian behavior! I hope someone pointed out to this anonymous respondent’s sister that she technically wasn’t a mother, and therefore not entitled to a seventy-nine cent petunia either. She was a mother-TO-BE, as well as self-centered, and a bunch of other words I won’t mention because this display of temperament happened at a church.

 

No Outlaws Allowed

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The Buffer Zone Dysfunctional Family Survey results are in and the goal is to post one every day or so or three. The main question of our survey was: Without naming names, who is the relative in your family that causes all the drama? And what incident best illustrates their craziness, “personality” or friction they bring to your family?

“I was raised in a Southern Coastal town where manners were taught and expected from the moment of birth. We are a genteel clan that addresses everyone with “Ma’am”, “Sir”, or “Honey”. My sweet husband’s father imagines himself an outlaw. He roars up to joint family functions on his big motorcycle, dressed in the typical offensive saying t-shirt, black leather vest and red bandana. He loves nothing more than to shock whoever is in earshot with his racist and homophobic comments. He was finally banned from future gathering when he grabbed my aunt’s bottom and proclaimed he liked his women with meat on them.”

Thank you for submitting this anonymous follower. It is truly a shame when in-laws become outlaws. Sweet tea for all to celebrate his banishment.

Till death (all of) us do part

Interrupting our series of amusing dysfunctional family survey incidents for this serious post by Beth Byrnes. She is a child psychologist, behavioral scientist, gardener, knitter, and baker among other things. I wish I could write half as well as she does, although I might be able to master her sugar cookies.

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This is what I would consider a ‘think piece’ and it is still a thinking-in-progress, really my mind working out loud, so please indulge me as I spin this.  

I have the rare opportunity to be forced out of my comfortable niche and into a foreign environment, little different from the one that Margaret Meade found when she chose to live among the Trobriand Islanders, not as one of them, not as a tourist, but as a scientist and silent observer, recorder of a culture so alien that every moment spent among them put her senses on high alert.  This is my little participant observer project in progress, while I am on a completely different mission as I explained last week.

kramer vs kramer 2When you hang around a courthouse you find out what is really going on in the world, out of public sight for the most part, rarely covered proportionally…

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Spoiled, Ungrateful Bratty-Brat

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The Buffer Zone Dysfunctional Family Survey results are in and the goal is to post one every day or so or three. The main question of our survey was: Without naming names, who is the relative in your family that causes all the drama? And what incident best illustrates their craziness, “personality” or friction they bring to your family?

“My little sister and her daughter had just spent the week with us in our little cabin in the woods. The same little mountain cabin that we had scrimped and saved for since our marriage began. In the seven days they were staying with us we visited a town festival, went river rafting, fished and hiked, and played board games, never once asking for their help with the cooking, laundry or expenses.

We invited several friends over on their last evening, and had just finished a sumptuous meal prepared by my husband, aka The Grill Master. My sister stands up, pushes her chair back dramatically, and proceeds to proclaim that she will never visit us again because we make everything all about us. We fail to take in to account her needs. Then she stomped off to the guest room, with her 26 year old daughter following her. Although I was tempted to tell her to walk to the airport the next morning, my husband and I drove her there, stopping to get her daily Starbucks fix on the way.”

Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out Respondent’s Little Sister. Hopefully, the city you sent her brattiness off to is a decent Buffer Zone distance away. Thank you for sharing I-sure-charming-cabin-owner-with-a-guest-room. I’ll just throw in that I’m free this summer and  fold a mean towel.

Evil Easter Dictator

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The Buffer Zone Dysfunctional Family Survey results are in and the goal is to post one every day or so or three. The main question of our survey was: Without naming names, who is the relative in your family that causes all the drama? And what incident best illustrates their craziness, “personality” or friction they bring to your family?

“It’s really hard to pick just one, since I have a lifetime of choices. The family incident that best describes my domineering sister is the Easter Egg hunt we attended at a church in our neighborhood when my children were small. This friendly congregation would invite the surrounding neighbors annually to celebrate Easter and get to know more about their religion. From the moment we arrived my sister complained about the heat, the crowd, the church volunteers’ knowledge of how to run a successful egg hunt, that they only had one free drink station, the fact that the Easter bunny had shoes instead of furry feet, etc.

They had areas roped off for toddlers, children aged 4-6, and children aged 7-9 on the lawn behind the church, with brightly colored plastic eggs just lying on the ground in plain sight. The children lined the roped off areas waiting for the the signal to go before they rushed in with their baskets. My sister maneuvered her 1 1/2 and 3 years old toddlers into the best strategic position and literally shoved them forward at the signal. She then proceeded to block and run interference between them and other tiny tots gathering eggs. The Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill should have such a line. She was yelling instructions to get the yellow one, then the blue one, and warning them to watch out for the little girl approaching to their right. The same little girl that was barely walking and had a pacifier hanging out of her mouth. Yeah, watch out for her.

When all of the eggs were collected, each child had several eggs in their baskets or buckets, some free cookies, and a  picture with the Easter Bunny. So what else was there to complain about? The fact that the church had used a Polaroid camera instead of hiring a professional photographer, and the eggs contained lowly Sweet Tarts.”

The person that submitted this gem wishes to remain anonymous, as do most of the people that responded to our survey, which we completely get. We have a very clear picture of this incident in our minds since we have seen more and more adults (I use that term loosely) behave like this. We can only imagine the injuries that would have transpired if there was a prize involved.

Don’t worry dominated respondent, your Buffer Zone will be vast since your sister is probably going some place even hotter.