Income Disparities and Dealing With Them

by Pregnant Teen Mom

I have a really neat problem.

A very good friend of my little family and his wife are hedge fund people. They are Mitt Romney wealthy—certainly not Warren Buffett wealthy, but what’s the difference, really? I don’t really speak to my friend all that often. He is too busy. We were puppies together in New York. But his wife and I probably yak on the phone every other day. They are both close to my son.

The thing is, they are very generous. Where do I draw the line? I mean when they come visit, they stay in a suite at the Biltmore. When they go to the Keys they stay in the Chica Lodge. We are always invited, and I can barely pay the Resort Fee. Vacations are in St. Bart’s or some equivalent place. They’re taking the Fund’s jet. Do we want them to pick us up at Tamiami?

I have always paid my own way. My friends are by no means pretentious and their invites are sincere. I know they would pay for Junior and me, but I don’t want them to. Junior and I are solidly middle class. I am pretty much retired. I don’t want Junior to get used to flying even in coach—except as a privilege—much less in a hedge fund jet.

I know my friends are well meaning and extraordinarily generous. But I am fiercely independent. (Yeah, I know that sounds like a “severe conservative”, which I am most definitely not.)

Any thoughts?


192 thoughts on “Income Disparities and Dealing With Them

  1. Junior and I are solidly middle class.


    What’s the joke about the guy who buys a beach house? “Until I bought the beach house I had no idea how many friends I had!” But seriously, what’s the point of having money if you can’t share it with those you care about? I don’t see why you shouldn’t always agree to go.

  2. I would agree to go too! No sense in being proud when you and your son could have some amazing travel opportunities. I’m sure they just want you there because you’re their friend and they want to spend time with you. Think of it as a gift to them.

  3. “Junior and I are solidly middle class.”

    As are we.

    I think the issue here is just a matter of frequency. How often are they taking you on these trips? If they’re willing to pay, I’d let them pay, but I wouldn’t want to accept any more often than I would want to accept an invite to a friend’s house without ever reciprocating in some way.

    That’s probably not at all helpful, but I don’t have any rich friends.

  4. Accept their invitation graciously. Not that DH & I are more than comfortable, but it feels incredibly good to be generous. We rent a lake house every year, and invite some old friends to join us. We get to play host. To invite friends to have fun with you and not worry about how to split the bill is part of the rewards of success.

  5. I say go and accept your friends’ generosity graciously. I also think having an honest conversation about how you feel uncomfortable would be good. I’m guessing your friends know that you don’t want to take advantage of them. Don’t let your being uncomfortable impact your friendship. Or, to be blunt, get over yourself (“fiercely independent”).

    You seem like the type of guy who always is the first to grab the check and pay for others. Your friends seem like they want to do the same thing, albeit a much bigger tab. So let them feel good and just say yes.

  6. Yeah, let them pay. I would happily pay a very scaled-down version of what you describe in order to have some of my lower-income best buds come on a lovely vacay. Sharing their good fortune probably makes them happy. You don’t want them to be unhappy, do you?

  7. I say, take the jet with them. Since they are going anyway, ni money out of their pocket and just makes environmental sense. Stay at hotels you can afford, not at Biltmore! But visit them there every day to enjoy the facilities of course!

    lesson for Junior- stay within your means, and it’s nice to have and maintain rich friends. You show by example how to be fiercely independent while at the same time enjoying some privileges, courtesy of rich friends.

    P.S: I wish had had friends like these.

  8. I see that others have a slightly different take on this. But I come to my point from my own baggage, so take it with pinch of salt.

    Really depending on how close you are and how generous-hearted your friend is, ideally enjoying such friends invitation should not be a problem. I know I would be delighted if I offered and my friend agreed to take on the invitation.

  9. I agree with everyone. Go and let your friends pay; don’t be afraid to say “I can’t afford X resort” – then if they offer to pay, it’s because they want to!! RMS: “sharing their good fortune probably makes them happy.” YES. If you feel like you are taking advantage of them, I like tcmama’s idea of an honest conversation.

  10. I agree with everyone else. You can look for opportunities to contribute where you can. Pick up the tab for dinner one evening. Send them a thoughtful gift afterwards (special book, or framed photo from the trip). Sometimes it is a gift to others to let them give to you. You don’t mention if they got along with your wife but I’m betting that they just feel terrible about the loss of your wife and want to make your life happier or easier in any way that they can. Taking you and Junior to nice places may help them feel like they are helping.

  11. My uncle has some rich friends. Some of them/their families were former princes so he has been invited to palaces and his visits have all been paid for. He has had some unique experiences. He has been able to help his friends in different ways; they were surprised when help came from him. He is a great communicator and just a very entertaining person to have around.
    I have no doubt PTM that your friends value you for who you are. Your money or lack of it doesn’t seem to have impacted their friendship with you. I think over the years, once people have reached a certain position in the world they just want to enjoy their lives and have around them people they actually like.

  12. What is the fun of working at a hedge fund if you can’t share with people you care about? I am sure they have plenty of friends who are taking advantage of them, and can figure out who they are and how not to invite them.

  13. I think that there is a a lot of value to them in your friendship in that you knew them before and your truly like each other and have fun together. They can be absolutely sure in your genuineness in a way they can’t with people they meet now, or others in the industry. Since they are wonderful people, this is of tremendous value to them and a gift from you. In their position, I would cherish any time I could spend with you and your son, let them have it.

    Also, I would look at it relatively – if you would gladly take them to dinner at one of your favorite places – is what they are spending on you even close to the same relative to their income/net worth?

  14. “What is the fun of working at a hedge fund” IS there anything fun about working at a hedge fund? I would think a proctologist’s office would have more yuks than a hedge fund.

  15. IS there anything fun about working at a hedge fund?

    Sleeping soundly on a bed made of money?

  16. Moxie – my DH worked at a hedge fund for several years. It is really fun for the programmers like him – dreaming up algorithms to test against the market.

  17. PTM: I agree with everyone. Just go! That said, I totally get where you are coming from, and would go through a similar thought process.

  18. I guess I was on the other side of this when I was single as while it didn’t have Romney money, I did have tons of points and miles. So, I’d say – it’s cold – let’s go to Miami. Or, hum… I’m thinking Napa. The only issue I’ve ever had is with people complaining as if they’d never heard the expression – don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Not that PTM would ever do that.

    PTM, did you used to invite him out to your place in the Hamptons? Maybe he’s just returning the favor with interest.

  19. “You can look for opportunities to contribute where you can.”
    “He has been able to help his friends in different ways;”

    You can find ways to reciprocate that are not monetary-based.

  20. PTM, we enjoy your company even on this anonymous blog, so I am sure your friends love and value your company as well. Maybe to them, paying your share is a small price to pay for it!

    Now I understand why PTM claims to be not Rich. He is comparing himself to his hedgie friends!

  21. Go.

    You don’t strike me as the type, like some same-generation relatives of my in-laws, who seems to expect an annual invite to one of their two resort/vacation homes. Accept with pleasure, enjoy your friendship, thank profusely.

    BAM’s point of them knowing you before they hit the big time is important.

  22. “PTM, we enjoy your company even on this anonymous blog”

    This is true. Let me know next time you guys are passing through and I’ll have you over for a cookout on the back deck so Junior can see how we “Everyday Americans” live, just for a balanced perspective.

  23. PTM, I agree with the others, for all of the reasons they’ve listed.

    You are clearly not taking advantage. You may be one of the few friends they have who is not taking advantage. You also may be one the few friends who isn’t fazed by their extreme wealth or jealous of it or constantly making them feel guilty by comparing their wealth to yours etc. I expect you treat them exactly like you treat friends with less money than you, and I expect these people know that. It’s refreshing to get to spend a weekend with a straight shooter who isn’t out to impress or kiss ass or make snide and jealous and sour grapes comments. With you, I bet they can be themselves. They can order the most expensive bottle of wine or order a round of Coors – you won’t balk at either and the conversation will keep going as the drinks are delivered. The ability to relax around people that way is invaluable.

  24. Yes Milo – show him how the hoi polloi get on with so little. Take him to the Costco. (typed in Baroness voice font)

  25. PTM – I agree with what everyone else is saying. They want you and your son to come with them – take them up on their offer!

  26. So my first thought was: if Hedge Fund Guy is only able to go out with/go to events with/vacation with others at the same income level, then boy, his social circle just became really, really limited, and now probably excludes all of the people he considers long-time friends. Which kind of sucks, to work that hard and do that well, and then lose the people who knew and cared about you then. Don’t cut him off because he’s super-successful. Sure, don’t take advantage — but if we can tell you aren’t that kind of guy just from this blog, don’t you think your buddy who’s known you forever knows that as well? And that that’s probably part of the reason he still likes and respects you so much, because you knew him when and you’re one of the few who doesn’t have a hand out looking for something all. the. time.?

    I think it’s about reciprocity, not tit-for-tat. Invite him over for a cookout, or for a day on your beach, or to a hockey game, or whatever else it is that you enjoy that’s in your budget. It doesn’t have to be equal money — it just needs to be equal hospitality.

    And ITA that if you’re uncomfortable with him paying, talk to him about that. And maybe don’t accept every offer. But one or two nice, fancy vacations aren’t going to spoil either Junior or your friendship with this guy.

  27. “Take him to the Costco.”

    lol. We serve only fine wines. We stock up our cellar whenever we’re getting the tires rotated on the car.

  28. PTM, I have nothing unique to add. We have a wealth discrepancy with Mr WCE’s uncles, but they seem to still want to see us occasionally because we are family. Because we have young kids, we try to make our visits short and sweet- we spent a day at their ranch before our trip into Yellowstone. The twins were still potty training so we knew we were stinky before the apocryphal three days.

    I think (hope?) he likes our family, even though we’re not at the fun-to-socialize-with stage of life.

  29. So, last night, chatting with DH DS’s upcoming school party, and DD pipes in with the classic: “mom, how come you never came to MY school events.” “Umm, I did.” “No you didn’t — dad came once to my Wonka party, and he chaperoned one field trip, but you never did.”

    True: I chaperoned all of one field trip; being responsible for large groups of children is not my thing. False: I covered all the other boring dreadful daily school events — the birthday cupcakes, the special daytime assemblies, the “field days,” all of that other stuff. And yet her memory is that mom didn’t bother to come to her school events.

    Lesson: don’t bother doing all the little stuff if you’re doing it for your kid — do it if *you* want to be there; otherwise, blow it off and just pick a couple highly-visible things.

    You know, a lot of what comes out of her mouth is intended to hurt but rolls off like water off a duck’s back; this was a non-sarcastic teen moment with a much bigger impact. I thought I was trying so hard to be there for her, and she just didn’t notice or remember.

    I thought it was a funny story when I started typing.

  30. LfB – you will love this…..DH signed up to chaperone DS’s field trip. DH hardly ever does such things, so DS is all excited. But, turns out that almost every kid will have a parent there – so really there is hardly any chaperoning going on. For most kids, it is a fun day out with parent. (DH was keen on taking his chaperone role seriously :-)).

  31. LfB, my DS1 correctly observes that Dad, not Mom, was there for his school field trips. Dad could take a couple hours off work for the science display much easier than Mom could ditch the younger siblings.

  32. And….it is turning out that most parents of boys are accompanying their kids on these field trips. I don’t know if that is because they don’t trust the school to adequately supervise them…..

  33. Our kids’ school has a lottery for the field trip chaperones, so all we have to say is we didn’t win that lottery! :)

  34. LFB: You should promptly volunteer to chaperone at ALL of your DD’s middle school dances. I guarantee she will remember that. I actually enjoyed blowing up balloons, hanging streamers, etc. As long as I manned the check in table, DS was ok with it.

  35. LfB – sorry. No good deed goes unpunished. Kids often take mom for granted. You do so many things that they don’t “see” you but when Dad shows up that it out of the ordinary so it sticks.

  36. “But, turns out that almost every kid will have a parent there – so really there is hardly any chaperoning going on.”

    That was the case when I went to the Washington Zoo. My friend and I had our two kids and a third child between the two of us.

    I’m chaperoning another trip tomorrow that I’m pretty sure will have fewer chaperones. We have the lottery system, also, but they have affirmative action for Dads.

  37. PTM – Agree that the reciprocal hospitality is important, but it is at the level you can afford.

    LfB – Had a conversation with a friend today about what we remembered about what our parents did/didn’t do when they were kids. Two things stood out – 1. The times we really wanted them to be there/do something and they weren’t/didn’t and 2. The general feeling of they were/weren’t around and in my corner. The problem, as you noted, is you have no way of knowing which things fall in these categories and which don’t.

    One of my examples of this was I really wanted to take ice skating lessons after taking some free ones for PE in middle school. Upon the initial ask, my mom said no; the teacher just wanted to make money. She asked me any questions about why I was interested, could she see me skate, could we take a test lesson, how much would it cost, or if I wanted to give up another paid activity for this, etc. Her dismissal without any discussion is what to this day still stings.

  38. Wow, we have the opposite of the lottery system. If the teacher sends out an e-mail two days in advance that they are still short x chaperones, people will start asking local grandparents or the SAHM’s will start swapping kids. Mr WCE is known as “Coach” at school, since he coaches the boys’ soccer team, and the teacher seemed to assign him all the high-energy boys, which he was OK with.

  39. We have a high percentage in my town of the Conspicuous Parenting Lulu Moms (CPLMs?) and I think they are the ones one-upping each other to volunteer.

  40. DD has been complaining all year because I haven’t been in her classroom “enough”. It just worked out that by the time I got to the sign up sheet the only party left was the end of the year party next week and there were no field trips (which I hate anyway). I also have read to her class “only once” because the last time I signed up the teacher canceled. But in her mind, there are other moms who are there every week (weekly reading slots, weekly help the teacher slots, etc.). I’ve accepted that she doesn’t appreciate all of the things I do (I certainly never did with my parents).

  41. PTM – I’ll add my voice to the chorus. I know no one has to remind you that life is short, but I am feeling this in my own life right now for various reasons. Share good times with these friends while everyone is healthy enough to enjoy the travel, be good company, and you won’t regret it. It won’t spoil junior for normal life – I’m sure he’s well grounded.

  42. I just had a conversation with my mom about something unimportant I read somewhere and she brought up an event from my childhood and it became clear to me that I don’t remember the event the same way. I am not sure which perception is “right” and I guess it doesn’t matter. I didn’t say anything to her about it, just thought to myself Hmm, that is interesting and being a mom myself now, I know that I very well could be the one that has a faulty memory. She and I have discussed in the past that the things I do remember negatively are not the things at the time she though I would and I don’t remember many things that she expects me too. You never know what will make an impact.

  43. “You should promptly volunteer to chaperone at ALL of your DD’s middle school dances.”

    I *love* this. And of course will need to work into all conversations that Of Course I Am Chaperoning Because I Love Her And Am Happy To Take Time To Be There For Her.

    @Atl — Totally used to the lack of appreciation; I figure every kid is like that, and when they look back after having their own kids, they go, “oh.” It’s the “not even remembering I was physically present” that took me by surprise. There’s no “oh” moment when your personal history is that mom just wasn’t ever there.

  44. LfB: My mom was a SAHM from the time I was 5 until I was 9. I have no recollection of this. I remember her working throughout my childhood. I was incredulous when she told me that she wasn’t working during that time period. I could have sworn that she worked various jobs that I remember during that time – Nope. It was before & after. Kids are self-centered.

  45. Hi, Folks. I’ve been out all day with Junior at the Dr. at Key Biscayne. I hate Key Biscayne! And it’s not a Bebe Rebozo/Richard Nixon (for those of you old enough) thing. I hate that all the young mothers drive their golf carts around with their kids hanging off the back seats without seat belts on main roads pretending that they’re driving through Augusta or something. Geez! And, like bicyclists and drivers of Bentleys (Key Biscayne has an abundance of both), no traffic regulation applies to them. I need to get Junior a new Dr.

    Anyway, I am very surprised at your responses. My mother always used to say, “PTM, just accept and be gracious.” And as my dad used to say, “Always carry your own weight.” I thought more of you would think like my father.

    What didn’t come through in my post, and this is due to poor writing on my part (sorry)– is how much I adore these people. Though we live too many miles apart, they are people I totally rely on. The are Junior’s godparents. In the true sense. If I were to get hit by the bus, Junior would go live with them, and they’d have to go to church on Sundays. This has been a big comfort to me– more than anything money could buy.

    (Of course, I do not tell Junior that he would be far better off if I were dead!)

    Anyway, these really are good people. I love the wife and admire the man. For a crusty old lawyer, that says a lot. I know they will always be there for me. They’ve always been there in the past.

    But I don’t want to be “entertainment” and I don’t want to feel like I’m doing something I can’t afford. It is hard to articulate. I know these people are life long friends. Heck, they’ve been with me most of the way! And yes, I did reciprocate. My house in the Hamptons was as much their spot as their home in Connecticut is home to me when I go to NYC, But their lifestyle is so much more lavish than mine.

    And good for them! Really! They deserve it (as much as anyone does). They are good people. I know they give back much. And I also know that while they’re very aware of their position, they lack any pretensions whatsoever. I mean these folks are really decent.

    But Junior and I are who we are, aren’t we? If we want to go to St. Barts, I think we need to save for it and pay for it and look forward to it. On the other hand, I don’t know how to get there and that hedge fund jet waiting for us at Tamiami Airport looks pretty good.

  46. PTM, I would go. If you worry Junior is likely to get too used to the luxury, you could give him a budget and let him plan and pay for the next PTM-and-Junior vacation, so he gets some sense of what a vacation will cost him someday.

    My DD frequently complains that I missed X field trip or in class event. Sometimes I don’t win the chaperone lottery, sometimes I have a sick younger kid, and sometimes I just don’t think that she needs me there (see, e.g., Field Day).

    She is keeping notes for her memoirs.

    I’m planning to write a foreword outlining what was actually going on at the time: this was when I was dealing with relative’s surgery, this was the month that so-and-so died, this was when your brother gave up sleep….

  47. PTM: No change in my response, with your new info. I’m with your Mom on this. Going on a vacation once every few years with them won’t be taking advantage, and you will have a great time (and they will, too).

  48. PTM – That adds a whole other dimension. It is really important for Junior to feel comfortable with them if they would be his guardians and them to know him and his needs. We all hope that absolutely is never needed. I understand the wanting to pay for yourself (I feel that way about my own situations). I think there is balance or mix that seems appropriate…not every trip should be with and at the expense of these friends as that could send Junior the wrong message, but not every trip has to be fully paid by you at the level you can afford.

  49. I did reciprocate. My house in the Hamptons was as much their spot as their home in Connecticut is home to me when I go to NYC, But their lifestyle is so much more lavish than mine.

    St. Barths is just the compound interest earned on your previous generosity.

  50. PTM, your son has already lost his mother. Maintaining the connection with the people who would become his parents in the event of your untimely demise seems very important. Yes, he may benefit a little from seeing how the other half lives, but in a cosmic sense, he already had a much greater loss when his mother died. And, as you well know, none of us get what we deserve.

  51. So few people ever get the chance to fly private – don’t pass that up! It will make flying commercial fell even worse but still! Better to have flown and flown private than never to have flown at all – not perfect, but you get my meaning! Let them love you!

  52. PTM, it’s not just a thing they’re doing for you, it’s also a thing you’re doing for them. They wouldn’t ask you if they didn’t want you there. And would you turn down, say, Milo’s invitation to grill on the back deck on the grounds that it’s not really who you are?

  53. I guess my youngest got the short end of the stick on mom classroom participation — too burnt out already.

  54. PTM, I agree with AustinMom. In the event of your untimely (and, we hope, very unlikely) demise, they will be his family, and he should know them as well as your schedules permit.

  55. I echo HM. DD being the younger kid hardly gets any parent participation.
    Also, it seems that in the years between kids, there are more in school fun activities than out of school field trips.

  56. WCE, that was sweet. Yes. We maintain a real connection with these people. Especially with the wife. She knows every single detail about Junior and unfortunately the same about me. Again, if that bus were to come, my friend would be down here in an instant on the jet and whisk Junior back into a family situation. We will NOT comment upon how this is the best thing that could ever happen to Junior!

    But I’m still in the “pay my own way” mode. And all of you commentators have been gracious and thoughtful. You are right that I should be gracious and be grateful of their generosity as I value their friendship.

    I wonder if this is a male thing. Maybe I feel that my appendage is not big enough. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that I am grateful for my friends, and I am going to work harder to make sure they know it.

  57. And, as an aside, Rhett, I thought your comment on the last post at 8:59 was your best analysis ever.

  58. PTM, go every so often.

    Lesson: don’t bother doing all the little stuff if you’re doing it for your kid — do it if *you* want to be there; otherwise, blow it off and just pick a couple highly-visible things.

    LfB, I would sit down with her and ask for specifics about things she thought you weren’t there for when you really were.

    My wife and I have an ongoing debate about this stuff. Whenever there is a party or something at school, my wife insists on baking something from scratch for the kids to bring. My feeling is she puts way too much pressure on herself to do this because she doesn’t have the time and it stresses her out. She sees it as that’s what her mother (a SAHM) did, and if she doesn’t do it, then she’s a failure. Whereas I learned from my mom (a single WOHM) that you always volunteer to bring the plates or silverware, and if you do have to bring food, just buy something.

    I think every kid is different in what they remember and what they care about. What I remember is that my mom went to every single game and event unless it was completely impossible. I also remember how upset I was at the times when she didn’t listen me, like when I got a bicycle for my birthday and it wasn’t the one I wanted, because she never asked me what I wanted.

  59. PTM – can you have an honest conversation with your friends? It seems like you would be able to. Tell them the truth.

    But at the end of the day – I agree with everyone else. Be gracious, be thoughtful, and realize that these friends might as well be called family. I think Junior is not going to be the worse for what he sees/experiences.

    On a completely unrelated note – I just got a “blue screen of death” from my work laptop. It now won’t boot. I haven’t had this experience in 15 years. I feel violated.

  60. “PTM, go every so often.”

    This. And possibly some more, because of the guardianship thing.

    The other thing is that if you’re concerned that he won’t appreciate how rarified that sort of travel is, simply doing less of it is minimally effective, at best.

    But if you do other types of traveling, just the two of you, or with normal people, then he’ll probably understand a lot better.

  61. PTM – if it truly bothers you talk to your friends. Be honest with them. I’m sure they’ll understand. But you have it right – be gracious, be thoughtful, and realize that these people aren’t friends, they are family.

    On an unrelated note – my work laptop gave me the “blue screen of death” and never rebooted. I haven’t had this happen in 15 years. I feel violated.

  62. But if you do other types of traveling, just the two of you, or with normal people, then he’ll probably understand a lot better.

    Yup. He’ll get the idea that this isn’t “normal” after one flight in coach.

  63. Anon and others, we have had this conversation. They just tell me “PTM, that’s ridiculous!” I honestly think they have so much money that they don’t notice.

    Think of how cool that would be!

    Again, my friend earned his money. He has worked incredibly hard over his career as I have loafed, enjoyed good music and popped too many cold ones. Our paths used to cross professionally when I was still really working. He was always a gentleman as he ripped the underpants off my clients and me. And he has always bucked me up, as I have him and his firm because sometimes clients need to sell their businesses.

    I am truly listening to all your thoughts. Thank you. As I think I said, this is a neat “problem” to have.

  64. Being “entertainment” is a good thing here, dunno why you are so hung up on it? You are not “entertainment” in some circus freak, or look at this bozo kind of way. Obviously your friends care about you and don’t just want to include you to merely bring some life to their party (although there is nothing wrong with that either). We all want people around us who entertain us with their attention, their love , personality, and also their wit. It’s a good thing to be the one who is all that.

    Do only that which makes you feel comfortable.

  65. Rhode — unplug, remove the battery, and hold down the power key for ten seconds or so. Then try turning it on plugged in but with no battery. If that works, try replacing the battery and see if it still works.

  66. They just tell me “PTM, that’s ridiculous!”

    You know why they say that? Because it is!

  67. Again, my friend earned his money. He has worked incredibly hard over his career

    Yeah, no. Sorry, but no one works that hard. He doesn’t work any harder than the women who clean the hotel rooms he stays at. We have, at the moment, an economy that rewards people for all kinds of stuff, and sometimes hard work is one small part of it. That’s got nothing to do with whether you should accept his generosity. Should people actually HAVE that much money? Well, maybe Mémé and I will have a drink sometime and review what Marx would say. Meantime, go on the vacation.

  68. As Rhett would say, RMS, he worked that hard in a lucrative field.

  69. I totally agree about working hard does not equal high income. I worked hard, and I was stressed, but I knew I was overpaid. I probably made a fraction of any hedge fund guy, and I was overpaid.

    Any time that I am in a hospital, I think everyone is probably underpaid. Cleaning up blood, germs, and dealing with lufe

  70. And Rocky, this actually pains me to say, I think I just might know his kids better than he does. And I know his priorities don’t excuse a goddamned thing.

  71. I was cut off, but many workers that deal with life and death situations all day seem underpaid for the stress and hard work.

  72. “Just fucking go.”

    I reiterate. Rhett, you are an ass.

    Thank you.

  73. “And would you turn down, say, Milo’s invitation to grill on the back deck on the grounds that it’s not really who you are?”

    I would dare say that the future President of the Villages cannot just sit on any deck and drink a beer in a cozy. I think PTM would need to know if there is an awning and at least some slate somewhere.

  74. Damn right, Moxie! (And now I think I’ve exceeded CofC’s bad word limit of the day, so I’m going to stop. I always thought RMS would be the first to do it!)

  75. HM – I think I owe you a drink. Seriously. My computer booted, and is installing an obscene about of updates. Once that’s done, I have to try the laptop on my docking station. If it boots up there, I have to find out what the hell happened.

    PTM – you have really awesome friends. I don’t think I have anyone in my life that is remotely that generous (even after adjusting for financial security). I just don’t think that level of generosity is taught anymore.

  76. “I don’t think I have anyone in my life that is remotely that generous (even after adjusting for financial security).”

    Are you sure? Because it’s probably the equivalent of your Mom buying you a T-shirt from the gift shop.

  77. PTM – I would offer my patio – the path is slate, and the patio itself is brick. I also have Genny Lite in the fridge. I thought you’d like to know the type of person to whom you bequeath the Lincoln’s keys

  78. “Are you sure? Because it’s probably the equivalent of your Mom buying you a T-shirt from the gift shop.”

    I didn’t include family. If I do, then yes, I do know people that generous. My in-laws ring a bell. But of my peers – no way. They just don’t think like that.

  79. LfB, you apparently have much more expensive tastes than I, at least for massage chairs. What we have is more like this:, but with microfiber upholstery. IIRC, we paid $599.

    Costco does have an iJoy on their website for $799, as compared to a list price of $1299.

    I believe you can also add the calf massager separately.

  80. “But of my peers – no way. They just don’t think like that.”

    I was just thinking of a friend I had in my old life. When I was moving apartments, just before I got married, he offered to help me move. I rented a U-haul trailer and borrowed a pickup truck from another coworker, and he helped me move all my sh1t across town and into the new place. When the couch wouldn’t fit in the elevator, he helped me carry it up five stories. I bought him dinner at Panera.

    Around the same time, when I mentioned that we were trying to figure out how to get my grandparents into town for the wedding, he volunteered to drive several hours round trip to take them, and he did!

    The strange thing is, by most outward accounts, he’s kind of a jerk to a lot of people. And then he went to work for McKinsey & Co. But he’s also quietly very generous like that.

  81. Rhode, I do have awesome friends. I mean really. And I do think we grew up together in NYC in the late 70s through the 80s. Two of us succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Me not so much, but I can’t complain.

    The thing is I get their attitude. I have never had friends to a restaurant where I have not paid. If you visit me, I will NOT let you into my house (I’d have to clean), but I will book and pay for a room nearby.

    Now here is when I go inarticulate again (Ris, do you want to help me?). I know if I asked, they would pay for Junior’s school. If I asked, they’d give me a world cruise. If I asked they’d shoot me to the moon and hope that I’d never return!

    But I won’t ask for any of these things. I need to be my own person. Junior and I are our own team. Yes, we have a “family” very broadly defined. There are so many people that truly care about us that my prayers each morning have been truncated to “Please bless everybody that I love.” I guess God needs to get busy and I need my coffee!

    And no. I will not let our wealth disparities come between us. I will plant myself at their house (estate). I’ll play tennis with the dad in the morning and wash the cars in the afternoon and accompany the wife on her errands. It’s a good solid friendship. But I think I should pay for myself.

  82. “But of my peers – no way. They just don’t think like that.”

    They don’t invite you over for dinner, or maybe they have a boat or something?

    If they make $65k and spend $100 at Stop&Shop and the liquor store for a cookout they invited you to then assuming PTM’s friends have Romney money ($13.7 million a year in 2012) $100 to them is like PTM’s friends spending $21,000 on him.

  83. But I think I should pay for myself.

    What would you do if the situation was reversed?

  84. Okay, Rhett. You got me. And I’d use another bad word, but I’m afraid of CofC. I would do the same darn thing. Anything I have, they can have. Even the cat. Even Junior. That is true, because I know they are generous and I know they would share.

  85. Rhode, what OS are you using?

    My home laptop (Windows 7) used to go BSOD regularly, enough so that I detected that it was triggered by having too many windows/applications open, so I was able to reduce the BSOD frequency by regularly shutting down windows I wasn’t actively viewing/using, and regularly shutting down (my preference is to just hibernate at the end of my sessions, so I can pick up more easily when I return).

    It appears that MS has addressed whatever was causing my problem (I’m guessing a memory management issue), and I haven’t had BSOD in quite a while.. Given that you’re now installing a bunch of updates, if your problem was similar to mine, one of those updates may fix your problem.

  86. This conversation proves that this board is the place to go for talking everything to death before actually doing anything.. No offense to anyone.

  87. This conversation proves that this board is the place to go for talking everything to death before actually doing anything.

    That’s why I come here! I try it at home and it goes over about as well as my plan for touring the National Parks in an RV.

  88. I have never had friends to a restaurant where I have not paid. If you visit me, I will NOT let you into my house (I’d have to clean), but I will book and pay for a room nearby.

    This is their equivalent of you doing those things. Just go already.

  89. @Rhett – I guess I just don’t see dinner as the same as wanting to bring a whole other family on vacation. But, if you want to compare dollar to dollar, I can’t argue. Damn logic.

    @PTM – I get what you are saying. Why not split the difference? Allow them to pay for Junior as a gift to their godchild.

    @Finn – I have Windows 7. And HM’s solution has worked so far. The only other change that happened this week is that our IT group synced us to OneDrive. My OneDrive hasn’t finished syncing and I’m wondering if that background work has caused it to kaflooey. We’ll see if the updates also help. Blech.

  90. “This conversation proves that this board is the place to go for talking everything to death before actually doing anything.”

    It’s my version of seeing how the other half lives. Half of the topics on this board aren’t even on my radar.

  91. Atlanta — congrats on making it to day 4. I’d love to hear how the rest goes for you.

  92. “I try it at home and it goes over about as well as my plan for touring the National Parks in an RV.”

    We’re going it to do it somewhere, somehow before too long. It would be fun if you could join us sometime. It could make for a good joint-post series.

  93. “LfB, you apparently have much more expensive tastes than I” — DH used to say that he could put me in the middle of any store, blindfold me, spin me around three times, and I’d go directly to the most expensive item. And then I’d refuse to spend the money to buy it. Is funny cause it’s true. But, hey, makes presents easy.

    @PTM: I get the independence thing, really. You should meet my mother, who preferred to have her 6-yr-old feed her spaghettios for 6 weeks after a car accident rather than tell her own mother. And who insisted on paying half the bills, even though she made half as much as my stepdad. I get it.

    But I think it’s a power thing. I think that degree of forcible independence comes from a fundamental unwillingness to be beholden to anyone, or to admit that you might be flawed or weaker than someone else and actually *need* help. It’s how “who picks up the check” becomes a power thing, with the alpha male out-dueling all others. (aside: spellcheck just corrected that to “all otters,” which would be awesome). It’s the same reason DH always treats when he takes his guys out to lunch, and why he and his dad or he and my mom fight over who pays. I think it’s the modern equivalent of establishing who’s the alpha and who’s the omega and where everyone else fits in-between. Or, you know, whose is bigger.

    The downside is that it turns anything and everything into a pissing match, metaphorically and literally. It’s a certain type of posturing that, to an outsider, looks like it gets in the way of connecting and building/maintaining real relationships. I mean, my friends are my friends because we *don’t* have to put on our armor and establish our position in the social hierarchy, which I have neither the patience nor the aptitude for.

    But then again, wolves seem to be happiest when everyone knows his place in the pack. And maybe this is just a guy thing, and agreeing to a vacation would upset the balance in your pack. So if it would make you uncomfortable to accept what looks to you like charity, then you shouldn’t do it.

  94. I think a hijack may be in order. Baby Dell goes to daycare (and does not care for it so much). It’s teacher appreciation month. What do I get for Ms. Emily and Ms. Jane?

  95. Rhode, it probably just choked on the combination of background syncing and background updates. The thing of removing the battery and cord and pressing the button for 10 seconds is just to get rid of any scraps still stuck in your RAM (when it’s plugged in or has a battery there’s still power to the motherboard and can still be stuff in memory). And then restarting it without the battery was to narrow down possible causes — it can happen that a flaky battery will affect your ability to power up. But since you have a likely cause in the stuff that was happening in the background, it’s unlikely that the battery was an issue.

  96. “This conversation proves that this board is the place to go for talking everything to death before actually doing anything.”

    Well, A Son, CofC needed posts so I thought I’d share something I was/am genuinely concerned about. The responses surprised me. Also, I am surprised you didn’t think I was listening to what others said.

    And to put a coda, I guess, on this discussion, I did not go to St. Barth’s (Rhett spelled it correctly). We are going up to Martha’s Vineyard this summer to stay at a home near my friends’.

    They have already paid for it. I have no choice. Their other family members are coming too (which will be great fun for us). I will pay our own way up. I guess that works.

  97. LfB at 3:56, I agree with everything you said. Completely. How can you be so articulate?

  98. I have no new advice for PTM. But since Rhett and I think alike on most of these things, you can imagine what form it would take.

    On the what your kids remember, I would respectfully disagree with the advice to ask a current teen to go over some of these complaints. There will be time later to go over this stuff, if necessary, when they are no longer in a dependent position, subject to the requirement that they be respectful, “my house my dime my rules”, etc.

    When those conversations about you did x or didn’t do y came up with twenty something young adults who had been stewing about something or just discussed it in therapy, I usually cried supportively or apologized if it was a clear mistake on my part, but if they were simply whiny bs I just grunted and tried not to escalate the situation. If one of them kept picking at it and bringing up the same silly thing every few months, I eventually reached my limit and had a very firm and frank exchange of views and indicated that the subject was closed. As for those incidents they recount that I can’t remember at all or remember entirely differently, well, we have a family phrase that after time we have developed into something that is not dismissive, but descriptive and almost affirming. “your narrative is your own.” And once they reached 30 it was a lot easier to explain with numbers and details exactly how broke we were all the time, how that affected the perceived slights and absences, and that if they weren’t aware of how thin the ice was, well, it was my job to shield them, wasn’t it.

  99. PTM, I’m late today, but just wanted to add that I agree you should just go on the trip. You can allow these people to be generous to you and pay it forward by being generous to others. I have been on both sides of this situation, to a MUCH smaller degree. I let my rich uncle pay for dinner every time he’s in town because I know I will pay him back by caring for him when he’s in the nursing home someday. On the other hand, I am quite generous with my friends who are teachers or social workers (I know they don’t have high incomes or family money) when I don’t want them to miss out on the fun. Just do it!

  100. “Rhode, it probably just choked on the combination of background syncing and background updates”

    Yes, I think the background syncing probably tied up a bunch of resources and left you vulnerable.

    I suggest you finish downloading and installing all your Windows updates first, without anything else running. Once that’s done, try to sync OneDrive, without running anything else. Once that’s done, go ahead and start using it.

  101. I agree with everyone else. You’ve known this guy pretty much forever, way before he was rich. And you talk to his wife as often as I talk to my mom- and my mom and I are close. And given that they are Junior’s godparents, they sound more like extended family than friends. From everything that comes through about you on this blog, I’m sure they genuinely like your company. What fun is it being rich if you can’t enjoy your money with your favorite people around? Reciprocate in the way you would for any other similar social interaction, no need to sweat how much money is involved given the nature of the relationship.

    I can’t remember Junior’s age, but I’m thinking that he’s old enough for you to start to talk to him about money, the role of choices and luck, how people are people regardless of how much or how little they have, etc.

  102. “it turns anything and everything into a pissing match, metaphorically and literally.”

    I would think that literal pissing matches at restaurants would get you permanently kicked out.

  103. Dell – trust me cash, or a gift card that acts like cash, will be most appreciated. Unless you see them wearing a lot of “PINK” (r) stuff because they are of that age, then a gift card to VS.

  104. “We are going up to Martha’s Vineyard this summer to stay at a home near my friends’.”

    The President does the same thing. And you’re looking to be Villages President, so…

  105. OT, PTM, my suggestion is to pick your spots. Accept some of the less expensive invitations, e.g., if they invite you to their home, having you stay there has a very low marginal cost to them, and make sure you bring something when you visit, preferably something, in the word of MasterCard, priceless, like a framed photo from good times together in the distant past.

    But since you are such good friends, try not to let their money and success get in the way of that friendship.

  106. Dell: I second Fred’s advice–cash or gift cards to a place like Target (i.e. can be easily used).

  107. Rhett, I’ll see your Ron White and raise you a Murphy Brown:

    “Both of you drop your pants, I’ll get a ruler, and we’ll settle this like real men.”

  108. The relevant corollary to this discussion, since the consensus from the recent middle class post is that most of us here are relatively well off, is how do we handle being in position of being the better off party? How do you balance generosity with respect for the dignity of someone less well off financially?

    One obvious way, of course, is to be cheap.

  109. “We’re going it to do it somewhere, somehow before too long. It would be fun if you could join us sometime. It could make for a good joint-post series.”

    @Milo and Rhett – THAT is a reality show that I would pay good money to see! DO IT!

    Dell – for the love of God the woman is a day care provider for a baby, NOT a teacher! Must everyone be over appreciated for everything? Mothers and Fathers only get one day! Then there is the end of year gift too! Enough!! When they tell a daycare provider “we’ve put a few stitches in your perineum, rub this cream on your bloody nipples and sorry, we won’t let you leave until you’ve had a bowel movement” then maybe they can have more appreciation than the end of year gift. Stop the Madness! (Frank Costanza font) If you must, do a gift card.

  110. Hey, kids, who’s in Washington DC and isn’t afraid to have coffee with me? DH is doing and emergency trip Sunday-Wednesday and I’m thinking about tagging along. rockymountainstepmom @ outlook dot com.

  111. moxie mom, I agree with you 100%. It’s a vicious cycle let me tell you. I am going to try and see if I can talk to a fellow mom from class and see what they are doing. Also, I just maybe, little bit, want them to want to give my kid teeny weeny more attention. I think of this a a very meager bribe to that end.

  112. Sing it, Moxiemom. I am such a free-loader. I forget (or, in other words, don’t prioritize remembering) to give money for all those joint gifts, but I think we are so inclusive that no one’s name gets on the card – it is always from the whole class.

    Professionals don’t work for tips.

  113. Also, they have all these posters and events for teacher appreciation month all over the center. So I know they expect us to do something. Last year, I got a Mother’s Day travel mug with my kids picture, but I forgot to do something in return for teacher appreciation. This year nothing for Mother’s Day!

  114. To play devils advocate: My kids’ teachers make such a difference in their lives. A small gift of appreciation is more than appropriate, IMO. I also send a detailed thank you e-mail and copy the principal at year end. I also ask the child to write a thank you note.

  115. Again, thank you all. What a problem to have! These friends are in my thoughts every day. They occasionally get some funny and sometimes some nice gifts from Florida. E-mail is our friend. Once, a couple of years after my wife died and I had left big law, I thought the wife and I should put together a book of our e-mails to demonstrate just how strong and solid a friendship can be. We talked about everything! Being a parent, being alone, hating everybody and everything (except when I didn’t). Such loving honesty in those e-mails!

    The wife never wanted to do it. We certainly would have edited out information that was too personal. She has her social/political/civic/arts causes. I still think it would have been a good project to undertake.

    So, yeah. Junior and I will be hanging with the Obama’s this summer! The wife and I will like that– my buddy, not so much. Unfortunately, I will bring some kind of a computer along, so you all can all stop being gleeful.

    And Meme, I’m sorry if I almost called you a bad name. Rhett, it fits you. :-)

  116. “Unfortunately, I will bring some kind of a computer along”

    Good. We expect updates of your golf games with the President, drinks with various celebrities, etc. : )

  117. I agree with Houston. For all our kids’ teachers have done for them, I have no problem giving them a little something for teacher appreciation week (on top of the holiday gifts and end of year gifts). And daycare workers get paid peanuts, so I didn’t mind giving them extra tips here and there. Of course we loved our daycare workers. We’re still in touch with a few of them.

  118. And Houston, I doubt I’ll be hanging with any celebrities or the President of anyone much other than family members (one of my sisters included. That was their hook. They invited one of my sisters before they invited us. As many of you have observed, we are like family.) My friend does not like to be recognized. The wife couldn’t care less. So it’s not like we will be at any parties with Brian Williams or Teresa Kerry, although I don’t rule out Junior dating Taylor Swift.

    I am preparing to do some serious cooking.

    We have happily accepted their invitation and a good part of July will be up north. I hope my buddy will just chill. We’ll see. I will enjoy the time, and Junior will realize what a pain in the ass it is to have a mom! (Not really. He loves the aunt who is coming and the wife who will make him feel like he, not President Obama,,is the most important person on the island.)

  119. “or” not “of” in the first sentence. Would somebody please teach me how to type?!!

  120. RMS, darn it! I am going to be up in DC from Wed. night to early, early Sat. morning. Junior is even going to come.

    I suspect you and I would get kicked out of any bar or restaurant we entered, though.

  121. Oh LfB – would be fun if we could all be together!

    I’m not against appreciating teachers but weeks and months? Also just before we give the big end of year appreciation gifts?! I love teachers, most of my family members are teachers of one kind or another but here we do a week of buffets and gifts in their mailboxes. My brother who is a teacher says that what they really want is a nice note about something they did that was meaningful that you also send to the principal. Oh and I will say this, Boss’ Day is the dumbest thing EVER! How about we just treat each other nicely and let each other know that we are appreciated every day?

  122. Bummer, PTM! We’d show ’em how it’s done.

    Oh, Miiiilo. Are you scared of a few imaginary friends?

  123. I don’t rule out Junior dating Taylor Swift

    She’ll get around to him eventually. She does seem to like younger guys.

  124. @Moxie — join the email chain! laurafrombaltimore (at) gmail

  125. Laura, I emailed RMS. How do I join the chain? Do I email you too? Out of my depth.

  126. Emailed you laura. Feels slightly dangerous this…. Like I’ll need to show up in a black fedora in a cloud of smoke…essentially as Humphrey Bogart I guess.

  127. “I suspect you and I would get kicked out of any bar or restaurant we entered, though”

    Literal pissing contests?

  128. Sure, Finn. I’m sure RMS and I would piss very well together.

    What I really suspect, though, is that it would be our language. I am sure CofC is irritated with both of us. (In our defense, sometimes words work.)

    The funny thing is that in real life I suspect RMS and I could not be gentler. On the few times that he hears me cuss, Junior thinks it important enough to tell one of my sisters– all of whom could drive trucks for a living.

    Am I wrong here, Rocky?

  129. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines a pissing contest as “a competition to see who can urinate the farthest or highest” and (in extended use) as “any contest which is futile or purposeless especially ones pursued in a conspicuously aggressive manner.”[2] The first cited use of the phrase comes from a 1943 Study and Investigation of Federal Communications Committee hearing before the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate F.C.C. where a politician[who?] was quoted as saying: “You boys have to understand .. that I have to deal with a combination like that of Hartley-David; it is like having a pissing contest with a skunk.” The OED’s first citation of pissing match is from a December 1971 Washington Post story that says “One Western diplomat … discounting the significance of the Sino-Soviet arguments … described it as ‘a pissing match, and I’m glad not to be caught in the crossfire'”.

    How did we live before wiki? I just don’t know.

  130. One of the ladies of SWE had a great response to a tour guide who had spent a couple decades as a maritime mechanic. “Oh, you don’t swear like a sailor. You have an expressive vocabulary.”

  131. Uh, I occasionally resolve to stop swearing so much. Works about as well as my resolutions to not eat so much chocolate.

  132. Tee, hee, hee, Rocky. I adore you. I am sure you and I would do quite well in any bar we were in.

  133. PTM and Rocky in a bar:

    She tried to hide it by the faded denim clothes she wore
    But I knew she’d never been inside a bar before
    And I felt like a peasant who just had met a queen
    And she knew I saw right through her tight fittin’ jeans

    I ask her what’s a woman like you doin’ here
    I see you’re use to champagne but I’ll buy you a beer
    She said you’ve got me figured out but I’m not what I seem
    And for a dance I’ll tell you ’bout these tight fittin’ jeans

    She said I married money, I’m used to wearin’ pearls
    But I’ve always dreamed of bein’ just a good ol’ boy’s girl
    So tonight I left those crystal candle lights to live a dream
    And partner, there’s a tiger in these tight fittin’ jeans

  134. Oh, darn! I would love to join this DC lunch, if only someone would pop down here in their private jet and fly me in. . .

  135. Milo, nobody has ever made me laugh this early in the morning!

    I think you nailed it. Rocky, we must meet!

  136. Funny – Milo !

    I have to vent about chaperoning the chaperone. So, DH flew in from a business trip last night. he has to be at the school bright and early this morning to get chaperone instructions. When he wakes up he informs me that he lost his driver’s license last night at the airport because he was in a rush and almost missed his flight home. He has applied for a duplicate license last night. He tells me he will ride the school bus because he doesn’t want to drive without his actual license. OK – so he goes to school and finds that all the other parents are driving, only kids on the bus. He decides to drive. As he is driving down, he calls me asking me why I didn’t know that no parents would be on the bus. I don’t know….had no reason to since I haven’t personally chaperoned any longer trips.

  137. Louise, the bigger issue here is his temporary insanity. He was willing to ride on a school bus full of kids for a long-ish trip? The man needs a psych eval, stat. I would walk to the 4th grade camping trip (or whatever he’s going to) before I’d ride on the bus. On two occasions, I’ve driven to this kind of thing and have had parents step off the bus, walk directly up to me and say something along the lines of, “Oh. My. God. Please tell me you have room for me in your car for the trip home.”

  138. Thanks Risley ! I now have to laugh :-). I don’t think either of us will chaperone in the future since there always seems to be an excess of chaperones (usually the teacher is asking for help in the beginning but by the end it is a totally different situation). There turns out to be either you or your kid or one other kid – not more. I don’t see us parents taking time off to accompany our kids to every field trip.

  139. Louise – my kids’ elementary school was fairly infamous for its excess of “helpful parents.” The camp organizers where DD’s class held their 3-day 4th grade camp told us that most of the larger metro area schools struggle to send a single parent to the camp. Ours had a 1:2 parent:child ratio, only because the school turned away parents to ensure the ratio wouldn’t be 1:1 or 2:1.

    The craziest thing about the school was that on really cold days when recess in indoors, parents would swoop in to teach Russian or American Sign Language or whatever — this, after some professor parents heard the regular plan for days like that was to show the kids some Disney movie. “Surely, we can provide a more educational recess period.” Enter the PhD parent brigade, exit the movies.

  140. @Risley – my kids would HATE that any recess time with movie being replaced by yet an “educational experience”. It’s like dessert tomato or half a cookie.

  141. Ummm, I’m on a school bus right now and just taught “99 bottles of beer” to a few six-year-olds.

  142. Louise – oh dear parenting rule #1 – NEVER ride the bus! BTW, the chaperone pool thins considerably in middle school – especially for the overnight trips. I always do those. Love getting to know the kids and teachers, but still ALWAYS drive.

  143. Dessert tomato is about to enter my everyday lexicon. It’s. just. perfect.

    The benefits of growing up in a squarely middle class neighborhood – no PhD brigade and their educational recesses. Can’t go outside? Play in the gym. Oh gym’s being used? Play any wacky game the 8th graders can come up with while they monitor you in your classrooms.

  144. Milo, I didn’t mind the bus at that age. Wait four years and see how you feel. It’s a different ballgame when they hit double digits, IME. The noise level, the ridiculousness of the jokes, the mean stuff you can’t really get on top of if it’s not your kid, etc.

  145. Milo – you’re about to get some nasty phone calls in 3…2…1… LOL!

  146. @ Moxie – there is an overnight cool camping trip coming up next year. Let’s see if DH survives today and wants to do it. I like my own comfy bed.

  147. Louise, I will say that I believe that chaperoning the boy cabins is much more difficult than the girls. It is insanity from what I hear. The fathers that do best at that have a military background.

  148. Moxie – yeah, DH, who has only girls, was always assigned to the boys’ cabins for the camping trips. And always to the “bad” cabins with no other chaperones and all the worst behaved kids. He’d see his daughters at meals, and be stuck the rest of the day and all night with the challenging boys. Even when he went on overnight trips with my DS, DS would be in a “good boys” cabin and there’d be a few dads there as chaperones, so the teachers would ask DH, with no bio kid in the cabin, to leave and stay in the challenging cabin. The guy could never win.

  149. Ugh! All this discussion is reminding me that our annual Awards Ceremony is coming up in a couple of weeks. What a delight! Happily, I missed it last year because Junior broke, but unless that happens again, I have to go this year.

    It is a hideous event, similar, I’m sure to what many of you have to endure. Each kid gets paraded up to the stage to receive each of his or her on average 10 awards for their incredible achievements over the last year. Parents crawl over each other in the center aisle to get the perfect photo. There are as many video cameras as people, minus one. I don’t have a video camera– never have.

    At inexplicable intervals, the kids are required to “sing”, play instruments and dance. I assure you my kid does not attend Julliard. I tend to revert to my childhood and go out back to smoke.

    This year, I proposed that we try to squeeze the Awards Ceremony into an hour. Each kid could be called up to the stage and be awarded all his or her ten awards at once. Cut out the performances in the interest of human dignity. Not have the “Big Mother” present awards to the Mother’s Club. Eliminate the teacher speeches. Yes, we know they have treasured teaching our snowflakes, they told us the exact same thing in exactly the same words last year. Junior has been going to this school for 8 years now. I can recite the teachers’ speeches by memory just as well as I can recite the Lord’s Prayer.

    My motion did not even get seconded.


  150. No chaperones on our school field trips past preschool. Grade school kids just go with the teachers & aides. There is an 8:1 student teacher ratio, so chaperones really don’t seem necessary anyway. I am thankful.

    This may be the only time I have ever wished that I were in DC. The Totebag gathering will be epic!

    Finn – I was pondering how we handle this in the same situation (being of more means than other close family/friends). We do have some close family members who are working class at best including one of my brothers. I think my tactic with them most of the time is to be cheap and to keep my mouth shut, but some of that is probably selfishness and also that I have been stung before by being called uppity/snobby/etc. It seems like the path of least resistance to just downplay overall. We only see each other a couple times a year, so it isn’t a regular occurrence.

  151. PTM – Awards Ceremony? If I had to endure that, I may be outside smoking with you as well!

  152. Come on down, Ivy. I’ll by an extra pack of Marlboros and we’ll have a blast.

  153. RIsley – you brought back memories of the TV being wheeled into the classroom on the AV stand! I remember so well the frisson of excitement that went through the class when we got to watch a movie during school.

  154. PTM – at my kids’ school, the principal and vice principal are no nonsense, sane women – so any parental insanity is put an end to. They will say something along the lines of “our teachers spend their time working with your kids, during the day, they would like to spend their evenings with their own families” and limit long evening school events.

  155. Our kids’ school has an awards ceremony for the whole school, during school, during the school-wide free period that occurs each morning. No parental involvement.
    For the seniors only, there is an evening awards ceremony, and parents don’t even get an invite unless your kid is getting an award. If you’re invited, you’re not told what award the kid is getting. I think that’s kind of cool.

  156. Louise, our ceremony is in lieu of a school day. It starts promptly at 8 and we are usually out by 11:30. It is utter torture.

    Junior is usually aligned with me on these matters. He usually gets my humor and my general disgust for many things. Not for this event!

    Junior, if you’re reading, for the record, I am NOT impressed at your award for being a student council member this year. Each and every fellow student was rotated into and out of that position over the course of the year. And dammit, I’m never going to be impressed that you can “run” a mile in 16 minutes. And while I’m at it, you’re not the first person in this family to “graduate” 7th grade– I kind of expect it.

    Oh, I love the Awards Ceremony!

  157. But PTM, my special snowflake needs to be put on a pedestal and shown just how specialer he is compared to your snowflake!

    Ugh! Whenever we had these things at school, I told my parents to stay home. I never won an award, it was a waste of time, and if cell phones hadn’t been the size of brief cases, I can guarantee you I’d be playing Minion Rush.

    For every half hour I’d make it without a snarky comment, needing to leave my seat, or being an utter nuisance, I’d reward myself with one margarita or glass of sangria. That would be 7 drinks if I made it all the way. Sounds like a perfect afternoon.

  158. @Rhode – Baby Rhode may end up winning every award, you will have to stay for the whole thing and will be under the weather at the end of it !

  159. @Pregnant Teen Mom on May 15, 2015 at 9:12 am — if it makes you feel any better, yesterday I got to sit through a 3rd grade recorder concert. Scheduled mid-day, so I was forced to be completely sober the whole time.

  160. Ada – I will keep you posted re: The Whole 30. I probably should have waited until the whole end of school parties, etc. are over, but oh well. I slept really well last night and woke up before my alarm clock which is a feat.

  161. “I tend to revert to my childhood and go out back to smoke.” I’m getting a whole middle aged Matthew McConaughey/Dazed and Confused vibe!

    This ties back to our earlier discussion about over celebrating everything. 5th grade graduation? You aren’t graduating from anything. EVERYONE finishes 5th grade. You did not “work so hard” to learn to read, count and spell!! We are getting to the point where nothing is special anymore because everything is!

    SSK – send your husband. I feel like we should tell Milo the location so he can lurk.

  162. “I was forced to be completely sober the whole time.”


    Middle of the workday — those damn clients prefer me to finish my work *before* I start drinking.

  163. “For the seniors only, there is an evening awards ceremony, and parents don’t even get an invite unless your kid is getting an award.”

    We just got our invitation. Ours is not limited to seniors, and we know in advance what awards DS is getting. I’ve asked myself what the point is in attending, especially since a full list of award winners will be published, and I guess it would be disrespectful for DS to not attend, and he will need a ride home.

  164. Moxie – it is actually my son! He doesn’t have the personality to just go up to a group of strangers, but if it was my daughter, I’d send her to your get together in a heartbeat!

  165. Ivy– It hasn’t happened recently, but BIL would call us every now and then near the end of a month to invite us to dinner at his country club. As a member, he’s required to spend a certain amount each month, so when he’d not spent much in a given month (e.g., he’d been traveling), he’d be faced with a use or lose situation, so he’d call us to help him use rather than lose.

  166. Completely off-topic: we made a quick round-trip to the inlaws in The Heartland and rented a minivan for the drive. It was a Dodge Grand Caravan with fun technology we don’t have on our cars. But by the end of the trip, the technology lost its cool factor and the substantial road noise was all I could focus on, so I definitely would never choose that over an Odyssey.

    As part of the cleaning out of the ancestral home, we were given a lot of memorabilia of my FIL. There was some fascinating stuff from his WWII service in the Pacific, including a Japanese flag from an island he served on. Definitely not traditional Totebag stock, as he only made it through 6th grade before going to work in the family auto repair shop. Lots of stories of a long line of crazy, including “who was that guy Grandpa Bob shot and buried in the cornfield behind the house?” and tales of my FIL trying to launch his young son tied to a weather balloon he filled by tapping into the gas line (on the gas company side, of course, with an electric drill). Fortunately, it drifted into a neighbor’s house and blew up before he had actually outfitted the rigging for his son. Good times, apparently. Again my kids are lecturing me on the dearth of good essay material in their boring, stable lives.

  167. MBT, thanks for your minivan comment. I just got an e-mail from someone who is [privately] expecting twins in their third pregnancy and so will need to buy a minivan.

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