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Family Deserts 25/33

Family Deserts 25/33 published on 19 Comments on Family Deserts 25/33

Larch: When your Grandma Gloriosa and Grandpa Oleander give gifts, there are always strings attached.

Tansy: Or they’re calculated to cross your boundaries. Or just make you feel bad.

Larch: They said they’d contribute to our wedding . . . and only bought decorations we hadn’t asked for. Household items would come with comments like “maybe with this you’ll be able to cook properly.”

We were insisting on no gifts at all by the time you came along. We got boxes of unnecessary baby things. And we couldn’t let them be alone with you — they’d ignore our most basic rules, like “no solid food yet.”

Any one of these things on its own sounds like no big deal! They’re just enthusiastic, it’s an innocent mistake, no need to overreact, just shrug it off . . .

But when it’s constant? It drives you crazy! Worse — you get stuck thinking it’s a you problem, because you can’t imagine they’d be doing this on purpose.

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“…one of my babies…”
“Nana ♥s me most”

*Khyrin shudders.*

I might be missing the deeper implications here. Little help?

Possessive pronouns in English carry (at least) two subtly different connotations. “My” means both “this item is associated with me” and “this item is my possession”.

In the case of a simple object like a pen, there is no real difference between “the pen that is associated with me” and “the pen which is my possession”. Pens are just objects so don’t have any opinions about their ownership. But there’s a huge difference when it comes to people. “My grandchildren” should ALWAYS mean “the grandchildren who are associated with me” rather than “the grandchildren who are my possessions”.

Gloriosa doesn’t seem to see a difference.

In addition, it is creepy as fuck that she is still referring to them as “babies” when they’re both very much independent people. Hyacinth is old enough to attend protest rallies and must be somewhere in the 14-17 range. Hawthorn is somewhere between 8 and 12, a little behind in some areas and a little advanced in others because of his disability, but certainly old enough to have his own very strong opinions. Referring to mentally competent young people as”my babies” in this context implies their lack of independent personhood in Gloriosa’s eyes.

Exactly this, but additionally I recoil at the concept of mass-produced clothing bearing the message “My grandmother cares more for me than my parents do”. I sincerely hope that Gloriosa embroidered that herself.

also, just to earmark it: Hyacinth was 15 when we first met her, and Hawthorn was 10.

This is incidentally more or less why I had to cut my parents out of my life. By the time I made that choice, they had at least learned to stop referring to me as their baby in their speech, but their other words and actions pretty clearly conveyed that they did not consider me a mentally competent individual, despite also praising me as their “smartest” boy.

To be fair, I’m uncertain regarding the mental competency of one of my brothers, except that I do at least think he’s far more competent than they give him credit for. To be clear, this brother repeatedly does things that he has admitted are stupid and even pointed some of them out as stupid himself, but even after making these assertions, continued to do them.

For example, he’s become very ill many times due to having eaten food he knew to be expired before he ate it. To the best of my ability, I’m not counting his difficulties with social cues as a sign of his lacking mental competency, because I understand that’s hard. On the other hand, his tendency to run out of gas because he couldn’t be bothered to go to the gas station… oh, wait, that’s our father.

Meanwhile, both my father’s eldest and my mother’s eldest are treated like full adults.

It’s not clear to me whether they’re treated differently because they were more dependent on them for raising the rest of us, or if it’s because the rest of us are more clearly on the autistic spectrum.

(My personal estimation is that my father’s eldest would just barely qualify for borderline autistic, but they’re very well socially adjusted. I’m not sure if my mother’s eldest would qualify. They absolutely have some features of, but either they mask really well, or don’t have a lot of those features.)

Sorry to hear about your parents, and I’m glad you’ve been able to cut them out.

Sounds like that one brother might have a chemical-imbalance problem, not a competence problem. Like the inverse version of someone with unmedicated OCD always washing their hands 7 times — it’s not that they’re being extremely competent about hygiene, it’s that they can’t make themselves stop…

And either way, it’s really common in abusive families to have a “golden child”/”scapegoat” dynamic. One kid is the favorite who can do no wrong, one gets blamed for everything. Sometimes you can figure out how they got picked, but it’ll be a really arbitrary reason (e.g. maybe the golden child has interests that the parent thinks are “high-status” and will look more impressive), not about the scapegoat doing anything objectively worse.

(Larch was the golden child for his mother, which is why she still has the attitude of “obviously he doesn’t want to avoid me or go against my wishes in any way, it’s all the fault of that awful woman he married.” It took Larch a couple years of trying to make peace before it finally sunk in that (a) his mom was the whole source of the problem all along and (b) she wasn’t going to change.)

See this is why emotional abuse, especially by narcissistic people, is so hard to deal with. Most of it looks “innocent” or like a “mistake” to an outsider, but it erodes your mental health all the same. This looking okay on the outside act is intentional, then they can easily badmouth you and look like the victim if you call them out or try to get help. It’s insidious and destructive. Having lived through this type of abuse, among others, I applaud Tansy and Larch for cutting his parents out of their lives. It’s one of the only ways to stay safe and sane.

I really really really REALLY hope that this does not become my life. *In-laws are semi-moving in to help with childcare and this comic feels like shades of my future*

Genuinely, in-laws aren’t as bad as G & O here. Not even remotely close (they like me for one 😛 ). But I am Having A Moment and seeing shades of my in-laws in this and uuuuuuuuuuugh (aka this story is very well written, thank you).

Future!me has come back to this comic to sadly report that everything exploded in drama that nearly cost us everything and my in-laws do not, in fact, like me anymore.

So good on past!me for seeing the pattern! Bad on my in-laws for being cruddy!

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