Shame and Blame and Completely Missing the Point

For about the last year and a half or so, Julie has mentioned to me several times that she thinks that our nephew Andrew (currently 11) is a little too affectionate with our daughter Dylan (currently 4). I had not really noticed this myself, but Julie would keep telling me she’d notice him always trying to hold her, have her sit in her lap, rub her legs, ask for kisses, etc, etc. Again, I didn’t really see any of these things happen myself, and I would tell her I thought she was projecting because of her job and maybe her own experiences.

Back in March, the entire family took a very uncharacteristic trip to Disney. On our trip, there actually were three times I noticed Dylan trying to get away from Andrew. In all instances, all the adults were just talking amongst themselves, not really paying the kids any mind. So I’d call her over to me, and it would stop.

After our trip, Julie brought it to my attention that Dylan herself told her that she was uncomfortable [and I’m told that was the word she used] with Andrew.

Julie goes on thinking that she should just try to keep them away from each other, without saying anything, and Julie watch them more closely… On the other hand, I am thinking I should simply mention to Stephanie that Dylan felt uncomfortable with how affection Andrew has been lately. Stephanie or David would just mention, “Hey, Dylan’s a little uncomfortable. Maybe just give her a little space, okay?” Butta bing botta boom! Problem solved.

Truth is, I probably wouldn’t have really said or done anything on my own except for the fact that Julie kept bringing it up and a family counselor advised me to do so.

March 30 with Julie’s baby shower for Madelyn (who was born on Apr. 29, by the way).

Now, anyone who knows much of anything about me now knows that I’ve had a lot of trouble over the last year or so. Without going into too much detail, I did not want to have any more children, and didn’t know I was going to… I’ll just stop right there for now; this particular event was not easy for me without any extra problems.

I assumed that kids would be coming to this event, since they had come to the last one. I felt like Julie was going to say something like “Why haven’t you taken care of it yet?”

So, alone… before anyone else arrived, I said one sentence to Stephanie.

“Dylan mentioned to us that she felt a little uncomfortable with how affectionate Andrew is lately.”

I tried to put it in a way that puts everything on Dylan, not intending to accuse Andrew of anything. I didn’t want to mention anything specifically. AND I did not want to bring anyone else into it.

So… Stephanie didn’t respond exactly as I’d hoped. She immediately retorted, “Dylan is the one that asks him to sit in his lap!”  … And she says, “Well, I’ll talk to Andrew.”

I think that’s that and I just go about my business before the shower started.

Next thing I know, in front of Dylan and Lydia (my niece), Freda comes charging in the kitchen saying, “Did you see Andrew touch Dylan inappropriately?!” and Lydia’s face is like “huh, what?” I sternly but quietly say, “Mom, we don’t talk about those sorts of things in front of the kids!”

So… without saying anything… Stephanie leaves, her entire invited family doesn’t show up. Freda tells me that “David and Stephanie aren’t going to come around anymore.” Freda is super pissed at me, without me even telling her any part of any of it. I left and I didn’t even end up being at the baby shower. Freda was being super passive aggressive.

But it didn’t end there of course. Then the emails started coming…

It just kind of went on and on about how hurt THEY are and them and they and so on and so forth [after all, who cares how Dylan feels]… Now keep in mind, I had never said specifically what problems we’d observed; only that Dylan said she was uncomfortable with affection.

He has never done anything inappropriate and we will not allow it to be told in a different way.
If we are truly being honest, then we all know that Dylan is a strong willed kid. If she doesn’t want to do something, then she doesn’t do it. We have never seen her act like she was uncomfortable around him nor has she ever said to ‘get away’ or ‘stop’ and I have heard her say those things to other people before…us included…even to the two of you. We really do not think this came from her and that is what hurts us the most. We would hope you all respect us enough to be honest with us.

Despite being accused of lying about what Dylan said, I tried to remain calm and respond tactfully and respectfully…

I had not realized how upset I had made anyone until my mother approached me… It was not my intention to say anything to anyone other than you, and I still aim not to. I considered this a ‘no big deal’ matter. It was not my intention to upset either of you, upset my mother, spoil Julie’s party, or accuse Andrew of any wrongdoing or anything inappropriate, or to say anything about Andrew at all. Dylan mentioned she is uncomfortable, and I feel it is my responsibility to mention it to you. I thought I could do so tactfully and continue on. I was also not trying to tell you what to do. If you think you don’t need to do or say anything, then don’t. I was trying to be simple, but not unclear. I regret all of the inferences and hurt feelings.

She doesn’t even agree with what I said to her… she says, I said, “Your exact words were that Dylan feels uncomfortable when Andrew touches her.” … okay…

Apparently there was some side conversation between Julie and Stephanie as well; I’m not sure what all was said, but I was ready to back away from the situation. It was clear to me that this was not a conversation that could continue calmly and rationally, so there was nothing to be accomplished. Andrew was too perfect to have done anything that could cause Dylan to feel uncomfortable. And Julie and I were simply lying about Dylan… Otherwise who cares what Dylan thinks anyway. That 4 year old girl should just shut up and deal with it I guess. No one has the capacity to look outside themselves and think that maybe Dylan feels uncomfortable and I should simply tell him to ease off Dylan a tad and move on about our business as usual… No, we couldn’t possibly do things that way. Nope…

Seemingly random after a civic band rehearsal, David texts me, even though he never otherwise texts me or talks to me ever…
We have talked to Andrew, and he will not be hugging on Dylan anymore, but likewise Dylan does not need to be hugging on Andrew.
If anything more needs to be said about this situation, you (not Julie) contact me (not Stephanie).

I respond, “all right.” It was fine with me because I had nothing else to say. I was done with it all.

So, I had re-focused on other important things, Theatre shows and 3 concerts, and doing my job, and spending time at the hospital with a newborn and so on and so forth. You know… little things… I’d moved on from this situation, because it really has no resolution.

And I thought about what the stakes were anyway… bare with me…

When I moved back to the area in 2012, I had not originally intended to move next door to David and Stephanie. It just kind of happened… I was looking for acreage, not too far and not too close to civilization. It was just the case that the King’s (our house builders) owned this land that fit our needs. I initially thought it was kind of cool that I’d next door to my brother, but I did ask their opinion before doing so, and they did not object.

I wanted to move back to Pace (or the area) because I had gotten quite lonely while Julie was in law school, and I needed the support of family and friends, especially if I was going to have a kid.

Thing is though, when they lived next door… I never really ever saw them… I even invited them to do things a few times, but there was always some excuse…

Then one day, less than a year after moving in, I was checking my mail, and someone was hammering a for-sale sign in front of my brother’s house. I approached the person, thinking it was some mistake.

So yeah… within a year of moving in, without telling me first, they moved away… Just like that.

So initially, I chose not to be offended, but I’ve never been so sure. In 5-6 years, I’ve not even seen the inside of my brother’s new house, except one time to deliver a computer part I sorted out for them. We only ever saw them at joint family events: birthdays and a holiday or two every year. I guess my point is… we aren’t friends anyway… That fact has always been there, but it has never been more obvious than how they’ve treated me now.

Some time last month, Freda mentions to me that they want to meet with us at Freda’s house on Sunday, June 3. And I flat out told her I did not want to do that. I felt as though the situation had no resolution, and I already said everything [as little as it was] I had to say. Furthermore, Stephanie is so in-your-face to the point of bullying that I thought it would only cause more grief for me. And again, we had no friendship to begin with. I expected adults to just handle the rare circumstances when we’re together. What else was there to say?

By that point, I was pretty bitter myself as well. Why does everyone who professes to love me always assume the worst about my intentions? Why is everyone so quick to assume I’m an a**hole? What advantage would it be to me to make lies about Dylan feeling uncomfortable? There’s no logic to it.

And you know what, why does everything have to be on HER terms anyway? Maybe I had other stuff to do on June 3rd?

Tuesday, Elizabeth randomly texts me…

“We are working on making plans for Seth’s birthday. I’m not trying to make tensions worse, but in the best interest of my teenage sons, I need to know what is expected of them in their behavior toward Dylan.”

And I’m thinking… I’ve never said anything about anything to Elizabeth… What’s she been told and by who?

I already thought it was strange that Elizabeth had not visited us in the hospital. Freda said it was because she was too busy with school. I mean, I was a full time student with a job and civic band when two of her kids were born, and I’m pretty sure I visited Elizabeth in the hospital of all 6 of her kids. But anyway, Madelyn is 5 weeks old now. Only Freda has ever even met her.

My response to Elizabeth was, “I’ve not had any concerns about your kids’ behavior toward Dylan. If I ever had, I would have mentioned it to you.”

No reply from Elizabeth. No further invitation or date/time on this birthday get together.

Also at the same time, my brother’s entire side of the family unfriends me on Facebook? Since I rarely ever post to Facebook except about music gigs and an occasional picture of a kid, a cat, or a dog (I only have it for managing the band’s social networking), the only reason someone would unfriend me would be to make a statement. On the other hand, I hadn’t talked to people about anything. I’d tried to stay discreet, and not embarrass anyone, and not shame or blame anyone, and certainly never try to turn family against family. You know, like a rational adult, rather than having middle school style drama.

Julie texts Elizabeth asking why she’s asking about this? I don’t know what all she said, but Elizabeth did not respond. Elizabeth has not answered her phone or returned any of Julie’s calls.

Julie calls Freda, and although I don’t know what all was said, Julie told me Freda said, “Elizabeth and Stephanie are just trying to protect their children.”

Well… from what? The big bad Daniel? What have I really done? What harm have I caused any of these children? I’ve not said anything to them or done anything to them and was never going to.

I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised though. It wouldn’t be the first time Elizabeth has turned against me without saying anything. After I quit crazy racist, sexist Church [something that took her many years later to also do] and moved out with Julie [something more common than not these days in the United States], she didn’t speak to me for months. Great family, right? but hey, I forgave her without her and I even mentioning it, even though I was pretty hurt myself.

So you know what… If they cannot see past their selves, if they can’t take a 4 year old’s statement seriously, if they think she should just suck it up and deal with it, if they think I’m so evil to make up stories for no reason… Then I’m out. Don’t talk to me. Don’t try to see me. Don’t mess with my family. I’m done being nice and respectful to people who have such a low opinion of me and have no respect for me and my family.

It’s just me, Dylan, and Madelyn.

Side note: You never tell/teach your children (especially your daughters) that they have to accept unwanted affection, no matter how innocent it is. If your child says he or she is uncomfortable, you say something. If you don’t, you’re teaching your child that unwanted touching is something they are supposed to accept. It’s called child grooming. When a not-so innocent situation does happen, groomed children do not know how to respond, and do not know how to approach their parents or family. If you do not understand these concepts, you probaby shouldn’t be around my children.