Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Set Up

Yesterday, Stevie Wren commented on her site that I was a straight shooter. That's funny. I think of myself as plain spoken, so it pleases (and surprises) me when others see me as I see myself. So often that is not the case.
We've been in discussion with our daughter and her boyfriend. They are talking about coming here. This makes us nervous because Michael seems to have a problem working. Brianna's work ethic is not the greatest either. She just lost her second job since moving to Florida three months ago. Michael has lost one, and simply has not found another. Tim gave Mike a web page to look for a job in our area. I told Brianna that she's making poor choices, and that she really needed to take a good hard look at what she was doing. Outraged, she tried to tell me that Mike is a worker. Fact: Mike has moved to Florida because he had been 'set up' in a job three times in the last three years. He lived with, and off, his father all three times, and then quit those jobs to move where other relatives had 'set him up' with even better jobs, living off/with those relatives. He just came from Michigan, where he was living in a house that belonged to his mother. Now he's back down in Florida. He and Brianna had both been 'set up' in jobs. Brianna at Radio Shack where Mike's stepmother manages, and Mike's father had 'set up' a job for Mike in construction. Mike never got his construction job, and Brianna never got a Radio Shack job. They live with Mike's father and stepmother. As far as I can tell, Mike has never been self supporting in his life. Brianna is self supporting from time to time.
Brianna and I had yet another discussion yesterday. Mike has graduated from security training, so he's 'guaranteed to find work when they get to Pennsylvania', she explained. I told her that if Mike was coming to Pennsylvania looking for a security job, it would be a while. He needed to come here and take what he could get, and look for his dream job from the safety net of another job. We also reiterated that they could only stay one month and then they were on their own. This rankled Brianna. I told her that we loved her but that neither one of them appeared to be workers and we were no longer in the enabling business. She went from rankled to mad. These job losses are not her fault, not their fault. Then she had to go. She didn't know what was wrong with her phone, but there was a lot of static.
The phone rang later. A very angry sounding woman introduced herself as Mike's mother, and began to give me an earful for implying that her son was not a worker. I pointed out Mike's pattern of moving in with relatives, of being 'set up' in jobs that never worked out. That he had lived with her for months, doing odd jobs for her. In her funny little stories about Mike, she related that he could not be paid in advance if you wanted the work to be done. "Well," she sighed. "That's true." She also said that Mike had a tendency not to put a lot of effort into job hunting. But then she went on to say that this last situation was not Mike's fault. His father claimed to have them 'set up' in jobs that were nonexistant. She then began to detail Mike's father's shortcomings. Basically the theme of that conversation went something like this: 'The man was a very bad father, so being burdened with the two of them now are his just desserts.' She went on to say, "He can just be a father, because God knows, he was a pretty poor one while Mike was growing up." I listened and then pointed out that Mike was a little too old to be needing a daddy at this point. She stopped, shocked and outraged. "Listen," I said, "Don't you think for one minute, that I do not love my child. I will not, however, support them for the rest of their lives. Whether they have a future together or apart, they need to learn how to take care of themselves. We've got four other children. Three of them are grown and self supporting, the fourth headed off to college. Brianna needs to get into counselling and get herself sorted out, and start making good choices. I see Mike as the same way. We'll help, but we're not enabling. They both can get jobs here if they want them, but they need to come here with a mindset that the most important thing is to get a job as quickly as possible. I don't want to hear anything about Mike looking for a job in the security field, and simply not considering any other jobs. We are not letting them live with us for months on end. Both of them need to grow up."
At the end of my speech, Mike's mother sputtered, "But Mike said that Tim was going to set him up in a job, and that you folks had apartments..."
We had never discussed living arrangements at all, other than to say that they could only stay one month at our house. Our 'job advice' was two websites to local companies currently hiring. I explained this to her once again. It is important that they begin to set themselves up. After I hung up the phone, I realized the irony. Mike and Brianna, and all this talk of being set up. The only ones being 'set up' are Tim and I.


Redlefty said...

Wow, I have absolutely zero life experience that would qualify me to comment on this with any type of perspective. But I like what you did there.

Pencil Writer said...

How illuminating to hear what Mike's Mom thought was happening! Good for you, shooting straight. Maybe now, Mike's Mom can grow up a little with her son who needs to as well. Sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors--kind of like "looking through a glass darkly".

It also kind of reminds me of the "hippy era" where everyone was talking about how wonderful everything was if you got away from the fetters of societies' restrictions and were just "free to do your own thing". Life was just wonderful--living off the land and singing all the wonderful folk songs and anti-establishment songs. It was a dream, often an drug induced dream, of "all is well."

Now we have a super "drug" influenced society with either too many rules and regulations or sections of society with too few.

Humans keep going in circles. Wonder exactly where we are in the cycle right now? At the bottom or working our way back around to the top?

Fastfingers said...

Wow, kids do try it on don't they. Well done you for telling the other mother like that: I would have been just straight out angry that she'd called me at all. You do right; we'll always help our kids out, but we won't support them if they're perfectly capable of supporting themselves.

Mary Paddock said...

I know this has got to be as painful as performing dental surgery on yourself, but you're doing the right thing.

Perhaps now that Mike's mother has all the facts she too can be less of an enabler.

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

No-one is going to set you up Deb... you are onto it! But by the same token, I think you may be exactly what these guys need. Of course it does make it tricky with the other challenges these two have... but (as they say here at Granite Glen) "GOd helps those who help themselves". It's time they started standing (with a little moral support, if nothing else).


Scotty said...

People only hear what they want to hear at times - good on you for standing your ground.

Debby said...

We have paid for Brianna's counselling on and off through the years. She never sticks with it. She knows that she has options, but chooses not to exercise them. As for us, it has become a matter of deciding 'Is this going to help Brianna or not?' If it is not a helpful thing, in the long run, well, then we simply don't do it. Brianna does have challenges. We will help her meet the challenges, but we will not help her survive her foolish decisions. It makes me sick feeling, but I'm getting better at saying what needs to be said. I've stopped crying about it anyways.

Mikey said...

Good for you girl. Good for you. Stand up. It sounds like they are trying to set themselves up by telling everyone YOU are going to help them. That's not what you had in mind, I'm sure.
I'd stick with the one month thing. No more. Heck, the way it's looking I wouldn't even go that far. They'll get there and then the month will pass and they'll say "But we have no money and nowhere to go"
You're right, it's time to GROW UP. There's two of them. They ought to be able to make it together. No excuses.
You stay strong. You're exactly right.

Lavinia said...

Oh my.....from what I've seen, the longer one enables one's children to be spongers/moochers/freeloaders, then the longer it goes on. Without end!

I am with you. They have work, support themselves, earn their living, just like the rest of us. Babying adult children is a bad idea.

jeanie said...

One thing struck me as strange - and that is that they have told his mum how you guys have set them up and blah blah blah - it sounds not just that they are looking for the world to enable them, but also that they are creating a fantasy where that exists - I wonder how often they have done this with those other relatives?