We went to see my parents for Easter. I figured it would be lovely and relaxing, what with a yard to play in, and a nice rapport with my dad that has been blooming recently.
My dad spent Easter Sunday in atlantic city or foxwoods or somewhere other than with us. Why? Because I yelled at him about toast.
We do not have a good relationship; we are very similarly hotheaded, and no matter what our opinion is the only one that is right. It's been getting better in recent years, I've learned to hold my tongue a little more and I think he has learned that I am not 12 anymore. But it seems this may not be true. I will hold my tongue on politics, the church, the economy but not when it comes to how my child(ren) are being raised.
It all started when we went to dinner on Good Friday. Now I understand my dad has not spent much time lately in the company of 2 year olds, but when you take a 2 year old to a restaurant you have to time it correctly. The child can't be too tired or they get cranky and punchy, but the child can't be too awake either because then they just want to play. I thought we had perfect timing when we got to the restaurant, and I thought my dad was being really good with Joseph. They were entertaining each other until it was time to stop. I (and remember I am the child's parent) told the child to stop and eat, my dad kept wanting to play. Finally the child hit the end point of the night, and in a fit of tiredness, riled up from grandpa continuing to feed him and also play games with him, threw his cup on the floor. Grandpa reacted by raising his hand to my child. I (very calmly i might add) told my father to stop and to give me the cup. He continued to threaten my child with his hand and I continued to say "give me my child's cup". He then mouthed some curse words at me and threw the cup at me.
I left the restaurant with my mother and child and when we got home my father disappeared into his room. I didn't see him again until saturday evening. This in itself was interesting because for most of my teen and adult years I was the one hiding in my room. I applauded him for removing himself from me, especially since we both were clearly still angry with each other.
Easter Sunday morning, we all get up, we all hunt for eggs. We sit down to eat. I put two english muffins in the high tech toaster. One pops up and my dad pushes it back down. I ask what are you doing (and granted it may have been snotty sounding, I can't help it sometimes I sound like I am 16 around him) He says its not done yet. I say Is it yours? No so leave it alone. He replies that everything in the house is his and if I shut up and watch I will learn how to do something...
I lost it. The next thing I know we are yelling at each other- him telling me to get away from him with his hand raised, me yelling at him that I won't because all f***ing weekend he has been talking like this to me. My husband is in the middle of us telling me to calm down, my mother is sitting at the table saying nothing. My nieces are at the table with looks of shock on their faces and my child is staring at all of us.
Totally irrational argument I admit it, but the outcome was even more bizarre. My dad goes upstairs takes a shower and gets dressed, next thing I know my mother is telling me that he is going to Atlantic city or somewhere.
My reaction is shame and anger. Angry because I feel like my dad abandoned the family on a holiday. But also because I feel like he doesn't understand why I am angry. I am angry at him because for 85% of my life all I can remember hi shim belittling me and yelling at me. If you asked me if I loved him when I was a teen and young adult, the truthful answer would be "no I am too scared of him. "
And I refuse to let my child(ren) be afraid of their one and only Grandfather. I refuse to let my child(ren) be spanked or threatened with a spanking as a way of getting them to listen (now me and the hubby do occasionally swat Joe's hand or butt and tell him no, but we are his parents. No one else should ever raise their hand to someone else's child). I refuse to let my male child(ren) think that it is acceptable to speak to their daughters, or wives in a belittling manner or to raise their hands to women ever, and I refuse to let my (if any) female child(ren) see anyone do so to their mother.
I am also angry because my father is the male role model for my sister's kids. Their own father is deceased, my parents watch them quite often. So essentially my dad acts as their father. I think it is awful that they are going to grow up thinking that is how father's treat daughters. It is unacceptable to me that my siblings allow my dad to bully their children in the same manner that he did to us. Sometimes I think the sister who doesn't speak to us has the right idea- just don't let grandpa around the kids enough for there to be an impact....
but I am also ashamed that I am the cause of my dad leaving us for Easter. I felt all day as if something would happen to him and it would be my fault. I felt like a home wrecker. I was also ashamed of the feeling that if my dad had hit me, I would not have stopped my husband from beating him senseless. That's not how a person should feel about their dad.
We will be going to see my family again in a few weeks. Maybe we just won't make toast.