I posted this morning about E’s parents coming to visit. It was self-pitying and lacked insight, and I deleted it. Here’s what the day’s thoughts have yielded.
They are perfectly amiable people. I can discuss art, gardens, and books with them. Although they are inclined to waffle over decisions like choosing a restaurant, what route to take to go anywhere, or how to best make a sauce, that’s annoying but tolerable.
What makes them hard to bear is how they treat their eldest son. What makes it harder to bear is how their eldest son reacts to them.
They are intelligent people, but cannot figure out how to accept E. Because his brother is an academic, every bit of news from him is greeted with acceptance, if not jubilation. But E making a name for himself as a tech crew guy around town? Nothing. Last pass through, his mom asked if he’d though ‘outside the box’ in terms of career choice. WTF was he going to do that was more outside the box? Performing Vaudeville acts, perhaps? How can they be so intelligent but be unable to wrap their heads around the fact that E is successful, yet not at a desk job?
Their inability to accept his job leads to some pretty stilted conversations. I don’t know if they know how awkward they sound as they change the conversation to something they can understand. It’s like they take certain words he’s said, and run with them:
E: The Shania Twain load in was pretty cool. They had all these screens, but we had to overlap them a bit because of the space constraints. You would have liked the overall effect. It was kind of like a mosaic.
Mom: …Ed had a hard time getting everyone on stage at the Wagner Festival! Gosh, wasn’t it a hoot, Bill?
They tune to static while E is broadcasting.
Another reason for a jangle up my spine is that if E has a beer at dinner, or a second helping of whatever we’re eating, his father seems to make it a point to take him aside and give him a mini-lecture on the dangers of over-consumption. Which, as you can imagine, makes E feel miserable. Because he doesn’t have the slender build of his parents and brother. He’s a Viking throwback. E carries more weight than his parents do, but they have different body types. When E was 12 he looked like the rest of them. Then he filled out. And every time his dad takes it upon himself to sail into one of these helpful little lectures, E’s soul shrivels a little.
He can’t help it, he feels marginalized. So would I, under the circumstances. And as often as I say, “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” he still feels hurt. Because sometimes a child can’t tune out his parents.
So while they have their delightful sojourn in Vancouver, I’ll be with the guy who feels the hurt in their evaluations of his weight and career.
And no matter what I say, he still feels the sting of their comments. There’s nothing I can do to take the pain away.
That’s what’s going to make my vacation a bitch.