As a child, I was never denied a single thing I ever wanted. I was raised by my maternal grandparents, who I love more than life itself. They have been married for fifty-two years, amazingly. When I say I was never denied anything, I mean it quite literally. I asked my grandfather for a pony, I got a horse. I asked for a swing set, he had a full crew come in and build me a playground. After some research, it appears to have been Rainbow Play Systems, Inc. I wanted one of those pink battery-powered Barbie corvettes, he got me one and I drove it up and down our driveway to my heart’s content.
Since my grandparents (who I call “mom” and “dad” and consider my parents) had already raised four girls of their own, I did have to wait until I was twelve to finally visit Disneyland. But that’s about as tragic as my life was up to that point in time. A Rude Awakening Then, shortly before turning thirteen, I was forced to move in with my biological mother, her husband and my younger sister who I barely knew. Life was about to change drastically overnight. Unlike the houses I lived in with my grandparents, my mother lived in a tiny two bedroom apartment.
I didn’t have two bedrooms to choose from here. The only option was to share the second bedroom with my little sister, which meant sleeping on the bottom of her bunk beds. And these were not bunk beds like the ones I had back at home. These ones didn’t have a big, red slide going from the top bunk down to the floor. They were cheap and wobbly and they sucked. My mother didn’t have money for anything nice. We argued over things as ridiculous as how fast we went through common household products like toilet paper, that’s how badly she struggled to provide for my sister and me.
And while I hated life at the time and was pretty miserable trying to adjust to these huge changes, it was the best thing that could have happened to me in the long run. What Spoiled Rotten Looks Like My grandfather has always done everything for his children and grandchildren and I can understand the natural desire to provide for your family and all of that. And while three of his four daughters turned out just fine, my mother was the bad apple. And when I say bad, I mean rotten to the core.
During the forty-three years since she was born, my grandfather has tried giving her just about everything a person could claim to want. About a year after I moved in with her, he ended up buying her a house for us to live in. She convinced my mentally-ill stepfather to burn it down so they could collect the insurance money. Which they did. For drug money. To show her gratitude for all my grandparents have done to try and help her, she has stolen my grandmother’s jewelry and sold it to buy heroin.
She has lied and stolen from them more times than I can count, blaming all her personal shortcomings on the fact that she’s a drug addict. He gave her cars, money, places to live, paid for her rehab at countless facilities, bought her groceries, took her clothes shopping…and these things ruined her as an adult. She can’t even fucking function. Refusing to Learn From Past Mistakes Now I’m watching him repeat this mistake with my younger sister, who has a two year old son and is a single parent who doesn’t work or do much of anything.
The reason she doesn’t work or support her own child is because she has never needed to. People don’t do things unless they need to. How many people do you think enjoy working so much that they would keep doing it after winning the lottery (and with the same urgency)? The problem is, you can’t appreciate the things someone does for you once you come to expect them or, even worse, feel entitled to them. You simply forget or don’t know what it is like to live without someone just handing you everything. Struggle is something you cannot comprehend.
This is a huge problem because it disconnects you from reality. Examining Parental Influences In trying to understand my grandfather and why he fails to see the error in his thinking, I look at his own upbringing and it helps to clarify somewhat. My great-grandmother was only sixteen when he was born in 1942. He grew up without ever knowing his father and his mother struggled to support him and his younger sister by working her ass off as both a waitress and a housekeeper at several hotels. She worked hard to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.
Needless to say, I’m sure there were many things my grandfather went without during his childhood and adolescence. But has he forgotten how this very fact was his inspiration for working hard to create a better life for himself as an adult? Does he not see that the motivation for building his business and becoming successful is rooted in his early life and his firsthand knowledge of what it meant to want something you can’t afford to have? My grandfather has always been driven and he likes to have nice things.
He and my grandmother have always prided themselves on living in beautiful homes, and being able to give their children the things they want. And I don’t fault them for that. Money is No Match for Love But giving someone everything they want is toxic and it’s too bad that my grandfather doesn’t stop to consider the fact that he never loved his mother any less because she was poor. He never held it against her that she couldn’t afford to pay his tuition so he could attend a private, Catholic high school.
Instead, he got an after school job and worked to pay it himself. And he loved his mother dearly. They used to call each other every single evening before she passed away in 2006. I hope he knows that his own children wouldn’t love him any less if he expected them to work hard and act like adults too. There is a reason we stop letting kids shit themselves and wear diapers after a certain age. Otherwise parents would still be wiping their asses for them as adults, which isn’t appropriate at all.