Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything on your mind.

How was your weekend?  What are your plans for the coming week, including Memorial Day?

I was shocked, saddened, and angered by this story.  It made me wonder how many other similar situations have existed in the recent past or even today.

My Family’s Slave
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.


82 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. This past weekend: big group project wrapped up, presented, approved Friday; I took the afternoon off to go to DS3’s next to last track meet. He threw a personal best and finished 4th so I’m glad I was there. Fri nite was Senior Ball for him with pix before at a tremendous house. The owners hosted 25 kids + their dates for dinner after pictures and since more of the kids were “dates” vs “boyfriend/girlfriend” being able to have dinner in a big group at a home instead of a smaller group at a restaurant was more fun for them. + all their parents were invited, too, for picture taking, and it turned out there was a ton of food left after the kids ate so all the parents were invited to stay and eat if they wanted. Some, including us, did. The hosts’ kid is on the track team so our kids are friends and we know the hosts a bit. So that was great fun!

    Saturday and Sunday was planning, acquiring and installing the spring plantings & mulch (the mulch spreading I have outsourced to DS3 who is done with school but no job yet…but some leads). Perfect timing as the rains came around 6pm yesterday and continued thru the night.

    Upcoming: on Saturday DS3 has his sectional track meet which barring a complete miracle, and him throwing 25% farther than he’s ever thrown, will be the last HS sporting event for our family to participate in. Early Sunday a.m. he and I are driving to DS1’s to help him move apartments (seems like an annual Memorial Day weekend event for me, though DS1 says he hopes to live in this place for 2-3 years). Then we’ll come back home Monday evening just in time for next weeks’s grind to start.

    I read that article last week…simply amazing.

  2. Weekend – poor. I had a weird virus (?) Friday where I got tunnel vision and had to lie down all morning and felt weak all afternoon, and since then I still feel out of it/tired and a bit dizzy. Blerg.

  3. Easy, relaxing weekend. Prom is over. Hosting a bunch of family for graduation ceremonies next week.

  4. Weekend – Friday, an evening catching up with a friend. Saturday, my last trip to camp (to sail or work) until next fall though I do have to drop off DD#2 for her two-week camp. We had enough break in the rain that those who were testing for their certification could do so! Sunday, tried catching up on volunteer paperwork, partly successful, and DD#2 had a scout event in the evening. We received a free shipment of Blue Apron from a friend. No one liked 100% of any of the three meals and they took more time than what we make from scratch. Task for today is to cancel subscription.

    I mentioned last week my issue with moving my parents money from one place to another. OMG, without rehashing, one more letter from the attorney required to finalize the HOPEFULLY last step to get the account titled properly so I can MOVE it. I received what the letter has to include and have requested it from the attorney. I am so done!

    This week is the last “regular” week for DD#1 – two projects due (math and physics), a field trip (history), a paper due next Tuesday (history), college essay due in English class Friday and end of course exam (engineerin) on Thursday. But, only 1 exam next week during exam week. DD#1 definitely on the downhill side of things stresswise.

    DD#2 has finals on Thurs this week. Is off on Friday and Monday, then finals Tues-Thurs next week. DD#2 has some classes where she could opt to take the final or do a project and one because there is an end of course exam that there is no final. However, unlike DD#1, DD#2 must attend every final whether she has to take it or not. If they are not present, they must take the final regardless and do it over the summer. Talk about the worst way to spend the last few days of school!

  5. “I had a weird virus (?) Friday where I got tunnel vision and had to lie down all morning and felt weak all afternoon”

    That does sound weird. I went hiking this weekend and I’m trying to balance between appropriate concern and paranoia regarding ticks. I have a close relative who has suffered horribly from chronic Lyme disease and I seem to be hearing more stories from fellow hikers and the news media about this. And symptoms vary and often nothing shows up for months or even years. I don’t really bushwhack and I spray myself carefully and then inspect afterwards. That’s as much as I can do.

    Austin Mom — I probably have missed your earlier references but what is this camp (sail or work) that you talked about?

  6. Had divorced friends over on Friday night for dinner which was actually quite pleasant (they seem to be getting along really really well). Saturday DH did yard work, I took my oldest to the library and actually checked out a few books for me. We ordered tacos for dinner. Had planned to watch a movie with kids but the power went out for a few hours. Finally watched Me Before You with DH (who rolled his eyes through the whole movie). DH took kids to movies yesterday morning since it was raining and I finally painted half of the stairwell. Read and finished one of my library books. My younger two are done with school just in time for a rainy week. Oldest has school through Thursday and then we have to get up on Friday a.m. and drive to Pittsburgh for DH’s cousin’s wedding. Not my ideal long weekend but my MIL insisted we go so there it is.

  7. The weekend was great. We had DW’s 50th birthday party. I surprised her by having a band that she really likes come. We lucked out with the weather after the snow on Thursday and Friday. It was a little chilly but no snow/rain or wind. They went well above and beyond and wrote a personal song for her. Then they stayed afterwards and gave everyone signed CDs and had cake with us. It was truly amazing.

    This week, DD is graduating 8th grade on Saturday. DS finishes finals on Friday as well. My dad is coming for the weekend and hopefully we are going to take him to the top of Pike’s Peak to make up for missing out on it 35 years ago. He took my brother and me on a western road trip and near the end we were in Colorado Springs and he gave us a choice of Pike’s Peak or seeing the Estes model rocket factory for some reason. And for some reason, my brother and I picked the Estes factory. So hopefully we can make up for it this weekend.

    We also have a softball game on Wednesday against DD’s old team, so that’s always a big one. They are much better than we are, and only play in our league because they want to play in a regional tournament and you have to play in an official Babe Ruth league to be eligible. I doubt we’ll win but I think we can hang with them now.

  8. Well, I screwed up this weekend, but it all worked out ok. Friday was our anniversary, Sat. was my mom’s retirement convocation, Sunday was niece’s bat mitzvah. When the bat mitzvah was set, my SIL told me to reserve Friday night for shabbat dinner, so I had that on the calendar. Then a month or two ago I got an invite for a Sat. family party (so F/Sa AND Sun? OK). Then I realized that was the same weekend as my mom’s retirement, and I needed to do something to celebrate that with her. So I asked DH to confirm with his sis which night was better for us to miss, I heard back Sat., so I canceled our RSVP for the Sat. party and arranged a family dinner out with my mom at her favorite restaurant. Oh, AND Friday DS had his first baseball game after getting his cast off and a school dance, and he wanted to do both, so I arranged a complex scheme where my mom would get him from daycare, take him to baseball and then to the dance, and then his friend’s mom would pick him up and he’d spend the night, while DH, DD, and I drove to SIL’s with DD for the shabbat dinner.

    Then Friday AM DH is texting with his sister and says “umm, there’s no dinner tonight.” WTF? Didn’t you talk to your sister about “Friday or Sat.?” Didn’t she say it was more important to be there Friday? Must have been like a giant game of telephone, where all she heard was “is it ok for us to miss Saturday?” So at lunch on Friday we realized that we had a completely open night, that we didn’t need all the DS coverage but, hey, we had it anyway, so at the last minute we made reservations for a lovely, private anniversary dinner, followed by beer-and-scotch at our favorite nearby dive bar. And DS’s game was rained out, so he got to go to the whole dance instead of half of it, and still enjoyed his sleepover at his friend’s house. My mom loved her retirement dinner — we had refused to tell her where, so she was very very happy to see the choice (her favorite). Bat mitzvah went off without a hitch, although three giant meals since Friday night was a little much. DD had a friend’s birthday Sunday, so she got to have some fun, too. Oh, and the in-laws arrived Saturday afternoon and just left this AM. AND I drove a couple of cars I am looking at F and Sat, and DH set up the batting cage.

    So in the end, it was a very good weekend. But, damn, I need a nap.

  9. Oh: And I have 100 pp left in the very last and final Poldark novel. Finally. Then I can finally turn to A Certain Someone’s most recent effort, for which I have been champing at the bit. :-)

  10. Our renovation is still on-going, and this weekend we had to completely clear out one closet and one room. That took all weekend. One of the closets had things like my old laptop from grad school (!! – 15+ years old), a million random wires and remotes, an external disk drive for those old square floppy disks we all used to use — it was hilarious. A first generation ipod! Around 45 CDs and a CD player. OMG, apparently any time we finished with an electronic we just shoved it in this particular closet. That’s not even like us and yet there it all was.

    It felt SO GOOD to get rid of all of that, and have the closet cleaned out.

    Renovations and moving are tough, but they’re good for forcing you to clean out.

  11. Austin Mom — I probably have missed your earlier references but what is this camp (sail or work) that you talked about?

    CoC – With scouts we participate in the non-summer camp sailing program our council offers. The girls learn to sail small boats (under 14 feet) on a lake about an hour away from us. As always, nothing runs in scouts without volunteers, so some trips focus on learning to sail (more fun), but other trips are for boat/sail maintenance (less fun, but necessary work). This was the last event of our season, which was a combo of an opportunity to test for certification and a work day. No more events until after summer camp ends in August.

  12. One of the kids’ team was in a national championship. The whole family went and it was really fun. The team didn’t do well but, they were at nationals, so it’s all good.

  13. The weekend was pleasant and productive. We went to visit MIL who is in her 90’s, and still lives on her own (though with much help from several generations of the family). We took her out to dinner, at a pretty simple Greek diner near her house. We then went back to her house and watched a truly dreadful program on Animal Planet (called Cat From Hell, or something like that, a reality show about a cat psychlogist). Yesterday we came home and then spent the afternoon getting the raised beds ready, and putting tomato plants in. My husband also spent some time as a lumberjack, sawing down the huge maple saplings that sprout every year in the large Rose of Sharon bushes that separates our house from the neighbors. We ended the day by eating dinner and watching the SNL finale, which we had recorded on the DVR. Dinner, for those who are interested in such things, was linguine with hot Italian sausage, lots of roasted peppers, eggplant, and basil. I threw some chiles in the sauce too.

  14. One of the reasons we were doing all the yard and garden work was that last week, we had the deck replaced. It had gotten kind of rotten and decrepit. While they were doing the deck, we couldn’t do much outside since the guy doing it pretty much took over the yard with his stuff

  15. Saturday DS1 had a soccer tournament and played well. Team won all their games and received participation medals. DS1 was convinced the medal was because they won first place. He wore the medal to school today.

    DS2 went to the piano recital and played 3 pieces. He had them all memorized and played pretty much without any mistakes. I was impressed. I enjoyed the 4 minutes DS2 played and then endured the other 116 minutes of listening to other kids play.

    I think both kids will continue to play piano this fall. DS1 who said he hated playing has started practicing again every day. He wants to earn money to save up for an iPad. He is making $0.75/day practicing piano, so he probably has about 3 years of piano to go. I can see him quitting the day after he earns enough money. DS1 didn’t want to play in the recital because his pieces were too hard. He had stopped practicing those pieces once he knew he didn’t have to go to the recital. On Saturday he was angry that he didn’t get to play in the recital because he wanted $5 (what we said we would pay for recitals). Seemed about right that he would be mad at us for letting him not do something he didn’t want to do.

    Overall, really fun family day on Saturday. Sunday we had nothing going on so mostly relaxed and did some chores around the house. Went out to dinner at our favorite family restaurant.

  16. LfB – I quit Poldark I believe after book 4. Too many books with no ending/resolution. Maybe I’ll give it another go. I also only watched 1 season of Poldark on PBS. I overdosed on it.

  17. @Kerri: I will let you know if the last one has any resolution — I keep hoping. :-)

  18. I was in DD and RMS’s stomping grounds this past weekend. Even with the snow, I found it to be more pleasant than DC’s weather. I really like Denver. And the people are so nice!

  19. I told about the hotel half of our weekend on the vacay topic. We were also at EPCOT, where it was too dang hot to enjoy much.

    I really want to see the bio-luminescence thing at Avatar once it opens up in the Animal Kingdom park, but think we will wait and see if it cools off any before our passes expire Oct. 16. Of course, that runs the risk of DS being in one of his downturns and not able to do it. It’s a conundrum for me. Wish we hadn’t started the tickets so early–it expires 6 months from first use. It is just not possible to bumble along and stumble into delightful little things the way we’d like to when it is so hot outside. We could go in the summer–the bio luminescence thing must be indoors, because how do you show that but in the dark? And the Himalaya roller coaster is mostly indoors. We could certainly find one other appropriate indoor thing, and of course eat indoors. But then we’d go to the animal park and go to exactly where the animals aren’t. Hrmph

  20. The weekend was wet, so much rain. And it was cold. I had to turn the heat on. But Saturday evening DH and I celebrated our anniversary at our favorite restaurant and it did not disappoint.

    It sounds like our school district is getting rid of Everyday Math and moving to Math in Focus. Anyone have any thoughts?

  21. My recollection is that Everyday Math is horrible to mediocre while Math in Focus is Singapore math, widely lauded. However, depending on your perspective you may think the opposite.

  22. I think Math in Focus is a Singapore math program. If yes, it’s very problem solving based. Singapore math was popular before the Common Core was even introduced, but it overlaps with the original standards of common core math. I think it’s a strong program, but some people don’t like it because you do also need to be proficient in reading to solve some of the problems.

  23. I think it really doesn’t matter. If you have good teachers, the kids will learn.

  24. We never experienced Everyday Math here, but every single person I know who has had kids go through that program DESPISED it. The big knock against it, evidently, is that it never required kids to master any skills before moving on.

    I am a big fan of Singapore math, so any program based on that is probably something I would like. And I think it is important that kids learn to read problems, so that isn’t a bad thing in my mind.

  25. I wasn’t a fan of Everyday Math either and was glad when we switched to Eureka. My oldest’s school is on their 3rd math program in 5 years so hoping this is it for a while.

  26. I’ve sort of enjoyed Everyday Math – but recently noticed that my DD has difficulty with the estimation aspect of it, and her teacher pointed out that she has not mastered addition/subtraction like she should be by now. So I was beginning to see why professionals in the NVLD world do not recommend it. I finally told her to forgot estimating and taught her to carry the one and so forth. There will be forced math work this summer so she can catch up. It will be interesting to see how much different Singapore Math is.

  27. The weekend was busy busy — a year-end picnic for oldest son’s activity that ran 10 hours (and we were hosting so we had to be there. . .), my daughter had to play at graduation and had an award ceremony, my youngest was running a fever and not up to leaving the house. We survived and the boys even finished the school projects they had outstanding. Then this morning was the start of the week in which my oldest’s calculus class over at the local CC overlaps with his last week of school at the high school, so all week I’m doing an excessively long and complicated dropoff (plus this morning stopping by the campus bookstore!) and he’s hopefully getting back to the high school campus for the latter portion of his day via Lyft. We’ll see how that works out. He has bus money too just in case.

  28. There is still estimation in Singapore math, but it is different because it relies more on visualization in math. IMHO, Singapore is just about memorization or abstract concepts. It adds a layer usually with pictures to draw the concepts that are being taught. As the problems get more complicated in the higher grades, the pictures become diagrams to help the students visualize what they are learning.

  29. We had a great weekend because DD lead the service at our synagogue to celebrate becoming a Bat Mitzvah. The party was right after the service and it really was a lot of fun. Even the weather cooperated because the sun appeared at 5 just as everything was getting started, and all of the humidity and rain disappeared so we were even able to have the cocktails outside before we moved inside for dinner/dancing etc.

    I’m glad it is over, but I am happy that the service and the party were just what DD hoped for this special day.

  30. Lauren – glad to know the day went well. All the First Holy Communions we have been involved in have had sunshine and great outdoor pictures.

  31. DH’s flaky but nice niece (she only has one felony! And it was when she was 17 so it’s sealed!) has moved to Denver so we take her out for dinner occasionally. She’s 23 and hilarious. She’s a beauty, and it’s very entertaining to watch every single male server strike up a conversation with her. Her friend kept texting her to come to some party and rescue her, so Niece came back to our house after dinner and made an old-fashioned paper cootie catcher, and under every flap it says some variation of “Buy me a drink”. Ice-breaker, I guess, though she hardly needs it. She just smiles and tosses her gorgeous red hair and the men come trotting up like sheep.

    The remaining functional niece is graduating from high school this week and getting ready to go to I.U. Bloomington. DH is going out there for the graduation, and I’m staying here. The terrible thing about being a stay-at-home wife is that when your husband leaves, you think, “Yay! Vacation days!”.

  32. The most noteworthy item was that the sun came out this weekend. Seriously – it’s been a very rainy and cloudy winter. We set a record for both the most amount of rain from Oct-May as well as the most number of cloudy days. It’s been so bad that the newspaper actually had a headline when we went 4 days without rain (which were promptly followed by a day with rain).

    Saturday, I went on a 13 mile run (I’m training for a half-marathon) which wasn’t nearly as horrible as my long runs have been this year (I’m sure the sun being out had something to do with it). Then the Sounders finally won a game (it’s not been a good start to their MLS season). And in the evening, DH and I went to see Paula Poundstone; we really enjoyed her show. So all in all, Saturday was an excellent day.

    Spent Sunday with MIL having a delayed Mother’s Day celebration. We went to MIL’s church and then to brunch.

    This upcoming weekend, I’m hoping that the weather will be decent so we can go for a hike (all 4 of us – this is what I usually ask for as my Mother’s Day present/celebration). We didn’t celebrate on the actual Mother’s Day date as DD was still in the midst of her exams for the International Baccalaureate program she is in.

  33. rhett, IBM has been downsizing for years. This may just be a sneaky way to downsize some more without announcing yet another layoff – drive people out by taking away the ability to work from home

  34. This may just be a sneaky way to downsize

    That’s certainly part of it. That said, I can’t see how 100% work at home can work for something creative and collaborative. 40% work at home can be great but as you move from 40% to 100% I think you soon run into rapidly diminishing returns.

  35. Mazel Tov, Lauren! I know you put a ton of time and effort into planning the Bat Mitzvah, and I’m glad to hear that everything went well.

    DS had a couple of friends over this past Saturday to celebrate his birthday. Per his request, we took the group to play laser tag (DH and I were asked to play, too). The kids had a blast (no pun intended), but if I never see the inside of another laser tag arena/arcade again in my life, that will be fine with me. My easily-overstimulated introvert brain felt like it was about to explode within about the first ten minutes.

  36. I posted this morning on the other thread a picture from my first time out in the kayak this season. That was the highlight of the weekend. Sunday night we had our best friends (the AZ snowbirds) over for dinner. I made a short rib chili, home pickled radish and cukes, double dipped fried chicken wings, buttermilk skillet cornbread. We also had green salad and fresh fruit with ginger ice cream (purchased, not homemade) to assuage the guilt.

    Since she came to live with us, I have always known when 38 year old resident DD went in or out because the front door squeaked. However, she found someone worth dating (probably not serious), so in anticipation of future date nights when the door might not give a reassuring squeak, I bought some WD-40 and oiled the hinges, and we both nodded in acknowledgement.

  37. I just read the Atlantic article. The mother is truly awful. But the author is, too. They stole her life from her. He paid her $200 a week. He waited years to take her ashes home. And was surprised that her family was grieving over her death. She was never a full human to him if he didn’t even effing realize that she would have a grieving family. Ugh. I hate this guy.

  38. “That said, I can’t see how 100% work at home can work for something creative and collaborative.”

    I agree, although I’m somehow surprised to hear you say this. I’ve found myself arguing this point with many people over the years. Somewhat related to this and more tangentially to Meme’s post, I was chatting with a 20-something relative this weekend and she made the point about how dating apps can be so inefficient. She explained that she could go through 100 profiles online and still not really be able to know the 5 or so that are possibly compatible with her. But she tends to know right away when she meets a guy in person if there’s a possibility he’ll be compatible. Meeting face-to-face often is simply more efficient.

  39. Re the article: I think this is the first time I agree with Kate. The author and his family are awful.

  40. Kate — I’ve gone back and forth on hating the guy. I’ve read arguments about how he really did the best he could under the circumstances, about how his lie to the obituary writer was justified, etc. I don’t know if I can judge him too harshly. I wonder why he waited so long to take the ashes home. I’m trying to imagine myself waking up one day at 12 years old and realizing my mom was keeping a slave to take care of us. It’s just so weird.

  41. I have to haul into the office tomorrow to meet with one of administrators to discuss a new program we are proposing. I did almost all the writing of the document anyway. I just need to go over a few points. This particular admin hates email and refuses to answer it. If she would just discuss via email, this would be so much more efficient and there would be a record of her suggestions. We could do it in 15 minutes. Instead, I have to drive in and drive back, wasting about 90 minutes of my day. And the meeting will probably drag out because we have to do pleasantries and so on. If she really wants face to face, we could do Skype or something similar, but no, she won’t do that either. Sorry, but I find face to face really inefficient and mainly for people who can’t figure out online tools.

  42. My parents were not able to come down for my kids’ graduations due to my Dad’s health issue, so we made the 8 hr drive up to see them on Friday. They were able to take us out to celebrate and give the kids their gifts. We drove back on Sunday, so a lot of driving for a short visit, but they were very happy that we came, so worth it to me. DS graduated today, although he would have been happy to skip the ceremony entirely. Weirdly, he has a final tomorrow.

    With the two graduations this month, and my dad’s new diagnosis, I feel like I’m shifting chapters from primarily mom-role to primarily daughter-of-aging-parents role, so I’m changing my name to something that makes me think of my dad.

  43. Becky, sorry about your dad. But not sure who you are — can you give a hint to your old handle? Was it initials?

    Thanks for posting the Atlantic piece. That publication has consistently thought-provoking articles. And what a sad story, though my takeaway was mostly how hard it is for children whose parents behave badly. Like Paige in The Americans. Even abused children are often fiercely protective of them. And then so sad that the author himself just died suddenly.

  44. I am
    pretty sure her old handle might be
    initials. With that resolved, time for more tea.

  45. We have a neighbor who works for IBM – it was my understanding that most of the southeast people all worked at home. I’m not even sure they have office space here. He travels a lot and otherwise has worked from home for as long as we’ve known him.

  46. MM,

    Either extreme is terrible, in my opinion. A total face time/but in seat mentality wastes a ton of time. On the other hand, the idea that the online tools are always equal or better than having everyone in the same room is just rediculous. The technology just isn’t there yet.

  47. Rocky, your post made me laugh at the awfulness in it.

    Lauren, glad to hear it went well! Congratulations to you and your daughter.

    The author of that article doesn’t really make a lot of excuses for his actions, which is probably why there has been so much uproar over it. What his parents did is horrible, of course, and obviously I wish he would’ve done more to change her life, as soon as he could. But I f he had written some kind of apology or tried to get the reader to agree with his actions, it may not have gotten the strong reaction it has, and making people aware of injustice where we don’t suspect it is a good thing. I don’t know when the author died, but the posthumous publication sure sounds like he knew people would be angry at him.

  48. Sorry, but I find face to face really inefficient and mainly for people who can’t figure out online tools.

    I think sometimes face to face is necessary. I’m essentially a remote worker, as are the other providers at my practice (about 125 total). I go to the office about once a year. I think occasionally ftf meetings would be extremely helpful. When you’re trying to have a discussion with that many people, it is very cumbersome to try to do it online in some form. We have conference calls occasionally, but it’s really hard to have everyone participate when you get more than about 10 people on one, let alone when you have 40-50 or more. It would be much easier if we could get together once in a while and talk in person.

  49. Creative work is the best kind to do at home, imho, assuming you are free from workplace and home distractions and can concentrate. My creative process looks more like puttering and staring into space than like busy-ness, and then when I get going, I want to be able to work straight through. For a collaborative project, I’d much prefer each party do their own piece or a draft or something, and then have a meeting after they’ve each read and digested the other’s work. Trying to do the whole thing face to face would risk the work getting bogged down in social conventions. But yeah, for that meeting to discuss, I think being in the same room together has something that Skype & FaceTime can’t offer.

  50. NoB, I’ve been in a laser tag thing once. DS had been excited–kinda overexcited–about them for months, and then his school had a Saturday thing (maybe a fundraiser, can’t recall) at one. He did one session (10 minutes? 20?) and was adamant that was enough. Even saying it was time for me to do a round as I’d promised did not change his mind. He wanted to get out of there, so we did. Of course I feel bad that he can’t enjoy things, but there is a little silver lining that makes my life easier.

  51. My friend who worked for IBM was downsized. She loved her work from home arrangement. IIRC, she could take off for a year when her child was born and her job was held for her.
    Now, she has joined a firm with a new office in her city so she has to go into the office. It is a major adjustment for her family.

    On the article what struck me was my nanny was 18 when she started taking care of me. Lest, you get the wrong idea, she wasn’t a slave. She did however come from a farmers family and some years were hard so the parents had to send their kids far away to work. My nanny was literate and knew how to read and write. In fact she read me bedtime stories and helped me with my homework. She also brought my lunch to school during lunch time. Once she was late and I was panic stricken. Since she was young herself, she was under the care of my parents. They opened bank accounts where she could save. They also kept an eye out for unsuitable suitors. When she did find a nice guy, she sneakily took me to the neighborhood restaurants and ice cream shops when she went on dates. I enjoyed those treats. Eventually she told my parents who gave her their blessing. She was with me for the first seven or eight years of my life. She got married and moved to another city. She had her own family in time, but she will be always remembered fondly by a shy kid.

  52. “Saturday, I went on a 13 mile run (I’m training for a half-marathon)”

    Isn’t a half-marathon ~13.1 miles?

  53. Hannah Andersson is on sale at Zulily. :/
    I’ve recently realized that the steps away from little kid and baby stuff, and soon from any kind of kid stuff, is going to make me sad sometimes. And one goal my kid’s therapist and I have identified is for him not to be so incredibly tightly attached to me. I’m sure I’ll be a bit wistful/nostalgic over that, even while being happy to breath freely.

  54. CofC,

    I finally got a chance to read the slave story. I can’t quite grasp why the parents were so needlessly cruel to her. Were they just terrible people or is it something we’re all capable of under the right circumstances?

  55. The highlight of my weekend was driving DD to her violin lesson and going to Costco for groceries.

    DD is old, and big, enough to sit in the front seat now (and according to Consumer Reports, in newer cars the front passenger seat is often safer than the back seat), so I had her sit up front with me, and we had a lot of time to chat about all kinds of things, just the two of us.

    It also gave me a chance to indulge her a bit, buying her one of the new smoothies from the food court (her verdict: the old one tasted better and cost less).

  56. Rhett, it’s often been argued that slavery is corrosive to the slave-owner’s soul.

  57. Rhett, dehumanization is a part of slave-holding. Thinking of the enslaved person as fully human makes it impossible to deny them freedom. Once it’s established in the slave-holders mind that they are not dealing with a human being, then why not take out their anger?

  58. Finn, your daughter must be younger than I realized. Do you have 2 kids or 3?

  59. “Were they just terrible people or is it something we’re all capable of under the right circumstances?”

    I’m willing to believe that we’re all capable under the right circumstances, but for most of us I think it would have to be a much more drastic situation and not what the parents experienced. As described, the mother’s background could have contributed to long-term psychopathic behavior but she probably had some of those tendencies to start with. Many people have had horrendous experiences but have not emerged on the other side with such evil. I can imagine that part of the son’s torment may have been just realizing how horrible his mother was.

  60. OK, I have a slightly different take on the Atlantic article: I think there is a huge cultural component that is completely invisible to those of us who didn’t grow up with it.

    Probably 20 years ago, my dad and stepmom moved to Hong Kong for work. Everyone there had a young woman from the Philippines as a housekeeper. They were paid peanuts and worked ridiculously long hours 6 days a week and sometimes more, taking care of the kids and the house and the clothes and the food and everything; they lived in teeny maids’ quarters off the kitchen that also doubled as laundry rooms. It was very similar to what was described in the article, except they got paid a couple hundred bucks a month.

    My dad and stepmom of course hired a housekeeper, and she was by all reports *thrilled* to work for them. Because all of the housekeepers hated the Chinese, who, the lore was, were incredibly demanding about the amount of work that must be done, were frequently verbally abusive and sometimes physically abusive, and paid the lowest. So to work for a lovely American couple who didn’t even have any kids in the home was basically a dream job.

    The housekeeper — we’ll call her Sarah — ended up moving back to the states with my dad and stepmom. And I was stunned — stunned — to realize what they were paying her; I don’t remember it now, but it may have been even less than the guy who wrote that article. I even mentioned something about it to him, and he got very defensive; that was what they had paid in HK, they paid better than most others, she didn’t have as much work to do because they didn’t have kids, etc. etc. etc. They also bought her periodic plane tickets home to see her family — she had a son whom she had left behind more than a decade before. But to her, it remained a dream job, where she was treated well and still able to send money back to support her family. She ultimately met and married a guy and moved to CA to be with him. And my dad still sends her pictures of the grandkids, whom she adores; she also traveled back to join us for I think his 65th birthday get-together.

    I found it incredibly depressing at the time to think how bad the economic situation must be in the Philippines that women would leave their families behind for years at a time, to go to a foreign land and work like slaves 6+ days a week for a pittance, and to be disparaged and treated awfully by their employers — they were very much a “lesser” status in HK. Not in the 18th century, not even in the 1970s of this article — this was right around the year 2000. And I see the author’s mom in my dad’s stories about the Chinese families’ treatment of their housekeepers. So I can see how the mom likely grew up with cultural expectations/behaviors that taught her to dehumanize others, that her housekeeper was somehow a lesser human who deserved that kind of treatment — and how difficult it must have been for this author to grow up in that environment at home, but also be part of the larger US culture, with its much higher expectations of equality but frequent failures in execution. I thought it was a remarkably honest telling of what must have been a horribly embarrassing family secret.

  61. Of course there is a cultural component to what he and his family did. But they knew it was wrong. They hid it. And he does a great job shining his halo about how he helped her. When it was convenient for him. And I feel empathy for the kids who grew up with the totally screwed up situation. But a 40 year old man doesn’t get that pass. He has no trouble writing about his mother’s involvement, but does little to acknowledge his own terrible complicity in it. Ahhh. The more I think about this the more that it really enrages me.

  62. Laura, I absolutely think it’s a cultural thing, as was slavery in the US. And the attitudes it produced live on, over 150 years after it was declared illegal here.

  63. LfB – the other place where this happens is the Gulf countries. Passports of workers are kept with the employers, so if you have a horrible employer you are stuck. You can’t even leave the country. We heard stories from maids of Gulf employers. Some had great treatment – they traveled with the family to London and Paris, stayed at the same hotels but the employers left their kids in charge of the maids – even when the kids were sick. So, the maids were fearful of anything happening to the kids in the parents absence.

    There was the incident below which caused a storm.

  64. He was really ungracious about what a pain she was to live with when she was older.

  65. Back when my second kid was still too frail to go back into daycare, we decided to try to find a nanny for a while. I asked all around for ideas for finding people. One lady I knew, who was from India, and whose husband was associated with the UN in some way, told me to get a Nepalese live-in nanny. The ladt was very enthused about Nepalese nannies, saying they are the best and very cheap. I said we didn’t have space in our house for a live-in. “Oh, we didn’t either when we lived in Manhattan”, replied my friend. “But she slept on the floor. Don’t worry, just have yours sleep on the floor in the living room.”.
    Um, needless to say I did not hire a live-in Nepalese nanny.

  66. And the attitudes it produced live on, over 150 years after it was declared illegal here.

    Somewhere around 1990, DH and I were in Baton Rouge. A wealthy acquaintance invited us over for drinks. We went over and met with him and his wife. This being Baton Rouge, it was repulsively hot and humid. We sat outside with our drinks while his black employees sweltered doing some heavy labor on the property. The guy mentioned that the employees were descendants of the slaves his family had owned. It wasn’t very polite of us, but DH and I both gaped at him and said something like “Oh, my God!” He and his wife were really offended and we left shortly thereafter.

    (And aren’t we supposed to be saying “enslaved persons” now?)

  67. just have yours sleep on the floor in the living room.

    When my dad (born in 1921) was little, Grandma and Grandpa had a black nanny for him who slept on the floor next to his crib. Have I mentioned that my grandparents were awful? They complained about her getting into the liquor cabinet.

  68. A Filipino friend was from a very middle-class family, but there was a separate nanny for each of the five children. He and his immediate family emigrated to the US when the kids were teenagers, but he continued to travel back to see extended family. His wife, who is from a very poor Kentucky hillbilly family, told me how painful it was to stay in their households during those visits and literally step over the “help” on her way to the bathroom at night. She did not want her son to get the idea from his cousins that this was acceptable behavior, but also did not want to cause a rift in her DH’s extended family. That Atlantic story definitely rang true, based on her experiences there and the experiences of other State Department friends posted in Manilla.

  69. I thought the horror of the entire situation was powerfully and quietly conveyed by the writing and editing of the article. There was no request for absolution, no softening of the details, pretty much a matter of fact telling of the tale. The Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt titled her coverage a Nazi criminal trial in 1962 as Eichmann in Jerusalem, A Report on the Banality of Evil. I never had the impression that the author was looking for anything from the world – neither self-flagellating to obtain righteous condemnation for his complicity nor self-justifying to obtain a drop of forgiveness for not abandoning this woman when she was no longer of use and a bit of a burden.

    I also think that it is a bit disingenuous to react to this as if rural third world children, who are de facto if not de jure their father’s property, especially female children and illiterate children, are actually sold every day in 2017 for cash or goods or debt forgiveness, ostensibly as servants or hard laborers but often to fill brothels. The very poor cannot afford a bride’s portion to get the girls married off, which is also a form of economic transaction and clan bonding. Excess children, even if cash does not cross the father’s palm, are forced to leave and indenture themselves. And we in the US, despite our sensitivity to ethnic, class and racial distinctions in our own country, are often blissfully unaware of longstanding tribal and regional stratification and contempt between groups in other countries, or even of the existence of such differences which are imperceptible to us.

  70. I appreciate all the perspectives based on personal experiences. Now that I think of it, occasionally I’ve read stories about local households being charged with keeping slaves from other countries.

    Rocky, what caused you to be so shocked about your Baton Rouge experience? I’m legitimately interested in knowing and not trying to be snarky.

  71. CoC, I think it just drove home how little social mobility there is in the U.S. and maybe particularly in the South, and maybe particularly for black people.

  72. My thoughts were like those of Mémé, Louise and LfB. One of the main things I learned from grad school was cultural- the Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Chinese and Indian students grew up very differently. My values are very much the product of growing up in western culture.

  73. When I was an exchange student my junior year of HS the family I lived with in Costa Rica had a housekeeper, a maintenance guy, and a landscaping guy all as full-time live-in help. I assume they were paid appropriately for the location / time. Only after coming home did I realize how 0.01% the family was…they had the Chevrolet concession in the country. Two (beach, mountain ranch) of the three (incl city) houses of theirs I visited / stayed in were honestly nothing special. The city house was indeed fitting of their station.

Comments are closed.