A few days after they were robbed, I went up to see my parents. A planned visit, but we’d just made the same trip a few weeks prior. It left me with a strange, cuckoo-clock feeling.
Mom seems almost energized by the drama. Perhaps having a defined villain and sense of belated empowerment (she’s keeping herself busy reviewing the thief on all the service boards as such, and tracking down arrest records and possible current living situation.) (Also, WOW, is the police officer assigned to Mom’s case making his pay in fielding her calls) is better than the kind of Bad Thing she’s used to of late.
Meanwhile, as I might have mentioned, Mom used the same service company who provided the thief and has already hired another housekeeper.* This goes to Mom’s basic belief that she has an innate ability to tell whether people are going to be ‘a good fit.’ I mean, sure there are things like background checks and references, but my mother prefers to kind of sniff people out and go from there. And the worst part is she thinks she’s good at it.
Witnessing this in progress did not go over well with me or Middle, which resulted in our helpless silence and later at Middle’s house QUITE A LOT OF BITCHING. Mostly my ranting was struck off by a childhood peppered with a shit-ton of crazy babysitters based on Mom’s same flawed logic hiring program. (Here’s a link to a post I made a looong time ago that includes a partial list of bad babysitting experiences. It’s kind of cute, because in it, you can see I don’t quite realize yet that my Mom picked more-than-average shittastic babysitters. My enlightenment in this area started with the comments section. Thank you, lovelies!)
If my dad were ‘here,’ he’d probably do what he always used to in regards to my mother, which was shrug and say, “When I first met your mother, and saw how she did things, I thought she might be an idiot. She never does anything like I would do it. But over time I saw that she makes things work out, sometimes better than I could. So now I try to give her a little more credit for how she does things.”
Which is what I go back to when my bad experiences with babysitters intersect with the realization Dad is now the babysat, and was otherwise alone in the house when the thief cleaned them out. Guess it’s a good thing she only had money on her mind. Although I suppose unless the next housekeeper is Jeffrey Dahmer, my grown ass 6+foot Dad’s probably more or less safe? THE JOY OF GETTING TO WONDER ABOUT THESE THINGS.
On the plus-side, my Mom bought Dad a puppy. Said puppy apparently bred specifically from ‘helper’ dog lineage; calm and smart and people oriented. Hopefully, the puppy will be a good companion to Dad, especially when he’s up in the middle of the night, and would otherwise wake up my mom for company.
Anyway, they made this puppy-purchase decision six months ago, and have been waiting for said creature to be gestated, born, and old enough to travel. Well, TA-DAH! She arrived while we were there and is legit the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen. Behold:
Also, puppy arrived with a cough that turned out to be pneumonia, probably from aspirating barf on the trip. Antibiotics at this age evidently fuck up a dog’s teeth long term, but antibiotics are better than death, so she got a dose. And! After Middle insistence the dog was probably going to die (her breathing is so labored! She’s even more lethargic than this morning!) the puppy seems to have pulled through.
In the family photos we took over this trip, I am a gray-faced ghoul. Was legit surprised to see how clearly stress shows on my middle-aged face.
It was hot as hell while we visited, and so mostly the dog stayed inside. Mom had this whole potty training regimen that involved crating the dog inside, then taking her outside to pee, theoretically never letting her feet touch indoor floors until she was potty trained, so that she would never have the chance to piddle inside. Spare me if this isn’t the right way to train a dog – I have zero knowledge and even less ability to tell my mom what to do. And anyway, the first day we got back to my parents (after leaving the new housekeeper with my dad, wheee!) we discovered Dad had let the puppy out of her crate so she could run freely around the house.
Middle and I spent a moment of the kind of camaraderie only truly experienced between siblings, in the strange tension of
1) happy Dad is so pleased with/proud of the dog, clearly bonding with animal 1a) maybe a smidge smug at defying Mom’s rules and thereby gaining favor/ ruining Mom’s plans 1b) Dad’s talking about it’s too hot out, so he’s done the smart thing by letting the dog play inside.
2) waiting to see what Mom’ll do about this when she walks in
when, in the center of our little stand-off circle, the dog humps over and squats. Not to pee, but clearly to drop a shitload of puppy poo on Mom’s throw rug. Middle, who currently has a potty training toddler and therefore most likely working on 90% instinct, grabbed that puppy like a football and charged the back door.
Dad yells at Volume 7 Angry Voice, “It’s too hot! Don’t take the dog outside! You’ll hurt it!”
Even at 42 years old, and only witnessing, I can’t tell you how shocking it was to hear the authoritarian shout of my father. All our childhood, there was no arguing when that voice showed up. Hell, there was no further conversation. Technically speaking, it probably wasn’t only the dog who nearly pooped the rug at the sound of my Dad using that tone.
So I have to say that in retrospect, I had a moment of hero worship for my younger sister, who hesitated only a split second, then defied my father and hauled ass into the scorching sun, back door banging closed behind her.
My Dad, enraged and believing Middle to be hurting a small helpless creature, stormed off, slamming some far-off bedroom door.
Mom went after Dad. I stayed with Middle, who moments later was little-kid-memories scared to have gone against Dad, as well as righteously pissed off.
“Mom probably would have let that dog shit the rug just to keep Daddy happy, but I just… couldn’t. He shouldn’t be in charge. He’s got dementia,” Middle said, and I had to agree. It’s also a no-win situation; Middle pissed off Dad and probably made Mom’s day harder. In this way, my parents house is starting to feel like an abusive household, where what is right is also wrong, and everyone pretends that things aren’t what they are.
*FWIW, the new housekeeper doesn’t set off my alarm bells (Ha, see what I did there? Mom’s intuition sucks, but I’ll go right ahead and trust mine!) She has local, long term references and a church where she regularly attends and is known by other church members.