Bear with me on this; it’s kind of complicated. My mom is in Vegas right now, visiting my sister and nephew. Brad*, my nephew, is 20. He works at a convenience store, and he’s been in jail once and prison once. Those are the only facts I’m sure of at the moment.
My mom is a control freak. She would rather score points off someone else, at the price of permanently alienating them, than compromise. She raised me with ridiculous constraints; when I was 15, I had to live under the same rules as when I was 7. Naturally, I rebelled, and when I was caught shoplifting, her reaction was to scream and yell at me nonstop, for days and days, telling me how worthless I was and how my birth had been a waste of time and effort, and so on, until she had completely broken my spirit.
Now, she was able to dominate me and beat me down, because she had me from birth, but Brad isn’t a pushover. I haven’t seen him for 3 years (shame on me), but he wasn’t always a “punk” (my mom’s word for him). He was a bright, cheerful, intelligent child, but four years with a cokehead bastard of a stepfather turned him almost completely around. As a teenager, he still wasn’t a lost cause, but I noticed that some of his mom’s boyfriends had an attitude that they were going to “fix” him. I don’t think someone should try to reform their SO’s kid; it’s insulting to him, and it didn’t work anyway. So. The last time I saw him was '96, in the town they lived in before Vegas, and he seemed a bit unfocused, but not anyone I’d be afraid to meet in a dark alley. Since then, he was arrested for breaking into a store after hours, and while paroled for that, was arrested for breaking into a house. His “friends” were with him both times. I don’t know who was the leader in these incidents, but I will say that this was kind of a blue-collar community, where they wouldn’t be the only teenagers using drugs and doing crimes. Not to excuse any of them, but my mom seems to still be hung up on the fact of his lawbreaking, rather than where he should go from here.
So. Cindy*, my sister, moved to Vegas while Brad was in prison, and when he got out, he first went to live with his dad and dad’s new family, but that didn’t last. I don’t actually know why. So Brad went back to Cindy, in Vegas, and my mom has been there for about two weeks.
Again I say, I’m not excusing Brad for his behavior. For instance, when my mom was visiting them in the time between the two arrests, she says Brad came close to hitting Cindy one day. That’s not good by anyone’s standards. But the two of them were blaming the wrong influences; like, Cindy told him he couldn’t play Doom anymore because she thought it was Satanic. I would have said, “No video games of any kind until you get a job,” but Cindy would rather blame society and Marilyn Manson and Sega Genesis, than take a look at the damage her ex-husband did, not to mention herself.
Let me give you an example. Once, she and I came home from clubbing, and as we were pulling up to the house at 2 a.m., she said, “I wonder if Brad’s home.” He was 13. Then she said, “Oh, there he is, across the street. He’s fine.” Can anyone who’s had that kind of carte blanche at 13 be expected to grow up with any sense of right or wrong?
So. Mr. Rilch and I were supposed to go out to Vegas this weekend and visit, but yesterday morning my mom called, in tears, and said, “I request that you not come.” I asked he what the problem with and all she would tell me was that Brad was “awful”. When I pressed her on it, she came up with an anecdote about Brad ordering a large pizza and not offering her any. Well, that is rude, on the face of it, but I can see it from another angle. Maybe that happened after a day and a half of her haranguing him about his job and future and so forth. I mean, I know how this woman sounds. You could work a jackhammer and find it peaceful after listening to her. So I can understand how Brad wouldn’t feel particularly generous. Plus which, he’s 20, as I mentioned, soon to be 21. I don’t think it’s up to anyone else to straighten him out; I think it’s up to him.
Mr. Rilch is offended, because last week, my mom practically ordered us to come out and visit, and now she’s forbidding us. He wants to go anyway, and just stay in a motel. I talked to my dad this morning, and he said that cousins of mine (who have often been shitty to me) are out there today, with mom and Cindy. As you can imagine, that makes me feel like a million bucks. So finally I called Cindy’s house. Brad answered and said mom and Cindy weren’t there. So I said, “Look, ah, Brad. I don’t know exactly what’s happening there, but I’m willing to believe that my mom isn’t being too fair to you. I know what she’s like, and I know how she tries to dominate everyone. All I can say is, don’t rise to her bait, and remember that she’s in your house, you’re not in hers.” He seemed agreeable to that. Then I told Mr. Rilch, and he said, “Why didn’t you ask to hear Brad’s side of it?” I had a number of reasons, but the main one was that I wanted to get that point across before anything else; that there’s at least one person who doesn’t think my mom’s a saint, or that he’s evil. When we get out there, I’ll get him away from those two so we can talk in depth.
Whew, that was long, and most of you probably stopped reading three paragraphs ago. I just wanted to get it off my mind.
Note to all parents out there: Again, I am not condoning violence, breaking and entering, crappy work habits, or any of the other behavior my mom’s complaining about. I’m just saying that whatever she’s doing isn’t helping.
Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.