Dear idiot Brother in Law,
In our culture it isn’t my place to say anything about your child-rearing methods, as I was brought up to treat you as a respected and honoured older brother. But I don’t live in ‘our culture’, nor do I live by it, nor do I see the value in it’s overly deferential rules, so I will write them out here.
I said, about you, in one of the thousands of whatsapp messages to sis2 : I do, currently, absolutely detest him and hold him in utter contempt.
Strong – no?
It isn’t you as a person whom I feel this strongly about – you can live how you want and I don’t give fuck. But you as a father – now that affects people I love; children I am already observing to take on some of your negative traits. Why do I abhore your parenting so much? You are turning your children into the same inconsiderate, uncaring, lower-class-detesting, pseudo-science-believing, middle-class, privileged, materialistic & consumeristic idiot you are. And when you stare at your daughter in disbelieve when she treats other people the way you treat them – I want to smack your head shout “WAKE UP!!!!!!” in your ear.
Your children can be total angels. The look of joy on their face when they found two very grateful homeless people to give the brownies to was amazing and beautiful to see. But in the run up to that moment, you made it all negative with “don’t shake their hands when you give it them, they have pee on it and are very dirty”. You walked them all around Harrods and told them ‘look there are no homeless people’. ERm… quelle surprise? It was Harrods / Knightsbridge. I had already said in the morning you (a) might not see many as it’s morning and (b) you won’t see any in knightsbridge. While I am partly grateful you didn’t forbid them from doing it entirely – or made them throw it in the bin (maybe you have a picogramme of humanity in you after all)… I still find your attitude towards the whole thing unpleaseantly dismissive.
The next time you complain your children don’t show care for people – ask yourself, do you show care for people yourself? And when the children throws things away unnecessarily, or expect you to buy them duplicates when they loose stuff – ask yourself, do you show them the value of things? If whole trays of brownies would better be thrown into the bin then given away,
The first time I snapped at you this trip – you had dumped your children with me all day, but left me shackled to within 1km from Harrods because technically we were still doing the childcare together and you were going to rejoin us. Leaving the children with me isn’t the problem. I am more than happy to have them. But give me the benefit of planing, the freedom to take them wherever I want, and the promise that they won’t get told off for anything I did with them. I am the adult, I take responsibility.
They climbed trees, got stuck and I guided them down safely. They didn’t have so much as a scrapped knee and no broken bones. What did I get from you when I send them the only photos I took of them this trip? “they are lucky i wasn’t there, i am mr health & safety” Yes, they WERE lucky you weren’t there.
I then spend hours with them in Waterstones, picking books with them. Not for them, WITH them. I pointed books they would like, they pointed out books that they liked, series’ they had been reading, and told me why they want them. I even got the boy to choose two books off his own back. What did you do for the 20 minutes you were in the shop (but not with the children?) Run around trying to find comics from the ’80s. Hmm… fat lot of good that did. Your daughter asked me for an encyclopaedia on dinosaurs – because her younger brother had one and she didn’t, because she was a girl. Now in itself is telling. Why had she not asked her parents earlier if she wanted it that badly? Did she feel she couldn’t? You might want to figure out why she didn’t. And when the boy went “how can girls like dinosaurs”…… I won’t go into how I felt at that statement.
I brought BOTH of them searching through the entire children’s section on dinosaurs, deciding together that the children’s books were a bit light on facts, and then up and down several floors looking for the adult sections. I love bookshops and libraries which are so large we can get lost in them, and we certainly did this time. When we found the animals section upstairs, we sat on the floor, with the 6 or 7 dinosaur books which were there in front of us, and we went through the pros and cons of each one. Some were too heavy for the flight back. Some were again too light on facts, and after an hour sitting there, we decided, TOGETHER, to buy the book that we bought.
When you got home, after I had got them fed, showered and into bed, reading. You came in like a bad smell, complaining about London, about how heavy the water you insisted on buying (No, tap water does NOT damage your kidneys…) and how tired you were. Your ball of negativity then asked to look at the books, you were curious about what they had done all day – fair enough. When you picked up the dinosaur book and sniffed with disbelief that your daughter would want to read one, and then started to complain about the slight imperfections on it, I was starting to fume. You ungrateful, inconsiderate buffoon. You bring your children to London because this is where they were born and you want them to love it, but you regularly complain about it and how much you hate the underground or the people etc etc etc – is that conducive to teaching to loving London? You buy evian for yourself to drink at home, muttering something indecipherable about your kidneys, but happily drunk tap water before, or in restaurants – the children learn that what adults say about health isn’t to be trusted because their dad blames food and drinks for ailments all the time but never actually stops eating or drinking those things.
Sorry about the digression. Back to the dinosaur books. When you asked “why couldn’t you have picked a new one” and I snapped “We were in the adults section, where each book had only 1 copy – not the children’s, because the children’s books were too light on facts for her”, instead of seeing the value of that, instead of seeing your child’s intelligence and maturity in wanting an adult’s book on dinosaurs, you went on to continue smirking with disgust as it’s state and started going on about the marks on the back and how ‘you don’t know how many have sat on the floor reading it’. FYI, we were on the floor for one hour – books laid out in front of us – analysing each one for it’s merits and feasibility (of taking it back home on the plane), so chances were that WE were the one which got that book a little big inpristine. After all that when you started to call her over and to point out all the imperfections in the dust cover. At that point I snapped. You WILL NOT reduce the time I spent for her into ‘choosing the wrong book’. I did that with her. It was time I treasure, and it was incredibly rude of you to (a) not apologise for the way the day had turned out – disorganised and unplanned (b) not thanked me for handling the kids while you did your precious shopping and (c) try to colour everything I did with your overly protective helicopter parent, negativity filled lense.
I was furious. So furious, I couldn’t go to sleep. So furious I was downstairs by the canal at 1am pacing to calm down. When you told me the next morning I shouldn’t have taken the risk of going out at 1am at night.. ERm.. It’s my home, I live here, I walk the canal everyday, I know what’s safe and what’s not. Again, I am an adult, I make my own choices, I do not listen to anyone and I certainly don’t listen to you about the safety of my own estate where I have lived for 5 years.
My concert the next day was 5.30pm. It lasted an hour. My performance was roughtly 5.40-5.50. You got the kids there at 6.25pm. For my debut solo public guzheng performance. That was….. Again… no apology – the women in the shop who gave you directions got the blame. The traffic jam got the blame. Getting on the wrong bus got the blame. Riight, okay… so you are blameless. I don’t even want to go into how I felt about this. The way ‘bludgeon’ is in there multiple times and there are many swear words.
I am so furious about all of this because the children are lovely and you are ruining them. You are teaching them to be inconsiderate, to not care for people who have less money than them, that shopping is more important than going to the park, that perfect book covers are more important than the content, that with money you can buy everything and replace anything, that adults can’t be trusted to be consistent, that it is okay to be disgusted and disdainful and contemptuous openly to people with less, that people with less can be treated like they don’t exist. You are teaching them that it is okay to be you, and you disgust me.
They are lovely children and you are ruining them.
This has been a long letter. I shall write the rest of it another day,
With heartfelt emotion,