My dad called me up this afternoon to tell me that he and my mom had decided that, if we couldn’t get the washer fixed this weekend, they would just buy us one. I wanted to turn him down, but, well, I also really want to be able to wash my clothes.
The thing that broke my heart is that he had like five hundred reasons why I should take the money–that they’d given a lot of money to my brothers and this would even it out, that they wanted to be able to stop here and wash their clothes without worry when they are traveling now that they’ll both be retired, that my dad was especially fond of my washer, because it had a big tub (though I don’t know why that would mean he had to replace it), that ten years is about the life span of a washing machine according to the dude on WGN and we might not be able to fix it.
And I could say no, but he’d just send the money anyway.
So, instead I said, “Don’t worry, Dad, after you die the Butcher and I are just going to get our brother and prop him up in the corner like you’d do with any wildly expensive piece of art.”
And he got all weird! “Hey, now, we gave you the downpayment for your house.”
“Dad, Dad, you know I’m not keeping tally. I would not keep tally even if you wanted me to.”
Lord almighty, our family has enough problems without someone sitting around making sure everyone is getting an equal share. And I will happily take a new washing machine, in which I will wash my clothes and think of my dad.
I’m still not telling him exactly what my book is about until that day in the far future when I sign a book contract for it, though.
Perhaps you are a nicer person than I am, because in light of what happened to your garden last year, I’d take the money in a heartbeat — 100% guilt-free.
You not tallying is the way to go. And yet it is nice to hear that he has a vague tally, that he knows much more has gone to one of you than the others.
Speaking from both ends of the equation, I’m with the professor. Not good for the kids to keep track, but the parent needs to have at least a rough idea.
I’m with Prof and W.
I have a brother who keeps such careful track you’d think Mom and Dad were being audited. When kids keep track it’s both greedy and rude.
But to know that parents kind of keep track–that they care enough to treat everyone as equally as they can–is very comforting.
Take it in the spirit it’s offered: “here, I have this and don’t need it and you sure could use it; it comes with my love.”
Re accepting the funds: This is a hard one for me, too. Learning how to accept gifts – even money from one’s parents – with grace and in the spirit the gift is offered took me 40+ years to get right. Assuming I have really gotten it right. I’ll let you know next time someone offers me free money.
Re siblings keeping a tally sheet: Despite all the weirdness and disfunction baked into my family at the factory, my sisters and I have never had a problem with that. When my Dad died (the second of the two parents to go on home and meet Jesus) we actually drew straws for things that more than one of us wanted, and we had no – I mean zero! – arguments. Nice! Makes up for a lot of other weird shit.
Re: siblings, parents, money and keeping score, this quote from the late, great Loyal Taylor, poetess and aphorist from Gadsden, Alabama: Honey, guns don’t kill people, families do.