Caught in the Midlle

I’m going to tell a story. I won’t make an effort to conceal the meaning; this is my view on the current political scene. Not only am I not concealing my meaning, I also don’t mean more than I’m saying. This is only meant as a relation to structure that most of us are familiar. There’s no significance in family assignments or the inherent problems. When I started dreaming up a way to compare our politics to a family, I winced knowing what it could sound like if you chose to look at the semantics instead of the overall message. Oh well, I’ll let you be the judge. My story has three characters: A mother, a father, and an adult child all living in a dysfunctional home.

As a teenager my family fell apart. Yeah, my story isn’t unusual. My house felt like it was being torn apart. My parents were constantly fighting. It was always about money and morality. When the fighting paused, they would each make their way to my bedroom and plead their cases. My room was as far away from the dining room as I could realistically get. I loved the house itself, it was the nicest one in the neighborhood, but I do not want to be plagued by the eternal squabbling. The other thing, the front door is pretty much revolving. There are always strangers coming and going each offering my mom and dad money and whispering about favors that could be done on their behalf.
In the end, they want my approval. My mom is fun and as a teenager she was the natural choice. She always promised me stuff and explained she would be the one providing my college tuition. She wouldn’t threaten me with the idea of military service, because that was an obsolete idea. When dad wasn’t around she gave me a credit card and told me she would give dad the bill. When I didn’t want to get up in the morning for school, she made me breakfast in bed. She promised she would provide for me whether I was a success or not. But there really wasn’t the option of failure. I could never fail as long as I pledged my loyalty.

Ah… teenage years they were a lot of fun. Mom even bought me a Chevy Camaro when I was sixteen. Man, that thing was beautiful. She couldn’t actually afford it, but I didn’t question her math. One night, I was a little hazy after smoking the weed she had given me and I wrecked that car into our brick enclosed mailbox and totaled the car. The car was gone and come to find out it was uninsured and the damage to the mailbox inexplicably cost several billion dollars to fix.

Mom couldn’t stop spending on credit. Everything was on credit. Everything from the food we ate to the money she gave to charity were on several credit cards. She promised I would be on her health insurance until I could possibly stand on my own. She gently told me that she wasn’t sure if I could handle being on my own. It kind of hurt to hear my mother say that, but she gave me an anti-depressant and put more in the college fund.

Every few years the arguments started in earnest and I retreated to my room. I really loved dad, but in my teenage years he made no sense whatsoever. He talked a lot about building walls around our house to keep us all safe, even though several of his business associates could be heard telling him that they didn’t actually want a wall. He smiled and agreed, but he knew I was afraid of the guy from another neighborhood who threatened to kill me. He didn’t know I knew he wasn’t keeping his promises. He only wanted my support because he presented all his reasons for why he was right.

One night, there was a man that broke into our house and stole a lot of my valuable possessions and threatened to kill me. Dad warded the man off and eventually we fixed the broken window and I got my stuff back. Dad decided we needed a security system to keep criminals from breaking into our house again. I agreed. I was so scared after having my life threatened and I didn’t pay attention to what the security team was actually doing. After dad had the security installed he sent my best friend to go find the guy that broke into our house. At first I was thankful, but after fourteen years I missed my friend and was weary of all the reminders of the scary night.

Dad was pretty stoic and not as fun as mom, but I guess mom kept him pretty busy. Between mom’s pleading and some of those strangers that wander in and out of our house, Dad decided to buy that Camaro that I wrecked and pay off all of mom’s credit cards.

Dad always talked about being smart with money and tried to tell me how to spend mine, but he had secret credit card issues as well. Mom was a lot more open about her problems and frankly, I liked the stuff she gave me, but dad wasn’t nearly as good as he presented. He filled our basement with guns. Remembering the night of the break-in I agreed with some firearm’s purchases, but the day I wandered down to the basement and saw the armory… Only one word could come to mind: excessive. The worst part of it is that some of those shouting matches between mom and dad were about how money should be spent. Mom said she wanted to help me, even though she also had an impressive collection of designer handbags. Dad said we had to tighten our budget and pay off our debt, but he wouldn’t budge when mom cornered him about the guns.

During the most recent rendition of that argument dad took mom’s credit card for a couple weeks, only to give it back with a limit increase. I was up late listening to the back and forth and the sound of our revolving front door, when I saw a flashing light in the corner of my room. One of dad’s cameras. I didn’t think I was the threat? That night was a moment of clarity.

I’m not a teenager anymore. I do want to succeed. I’m tired of this back and forth. As much as I love my mom I can’t side with her anymore. But I’m angry at my dad too. I took the camera down and confronted him with it. At first he tried to reason that it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I wasn’t to be dissuaded. It slowly dawned on him that I wasn’t the gullible teenager I once was.

It was time for an intervention. I couldn’t help my mom. The only hope I really had was to convince dad to once and for all take her spending power. We did need her lightheartedness, but we had to identify she had no idea how to run a household. That was the easy part. I was alone on the intervention with my dad. I told him he was on a budget too. I would be locking the front door, no more late night meetings with people I had never met and no more guns. I was going to go through them and get rid of the doubles and make sure he hadn’t signed any contracts with ACME ammo co. I had done some research and found that dad had supply contracts with companies that produce ammo without gunpowder. It was supposedly a good deal, but it didn’t do any good when fired. I wanted to get back to defense based spending, instead of using these contracts to enrich dad’s friends.

I was in an awkward position. I didn’t have the greatest record myself, but I was tired of the unrest. I pulled out the old, dusty copy of house rules that I found in a display case in the attic. I pinned it on the wall and started to work on the budget. My last hope was to hold my dad accountable to the rules. I suppose our house could fall apart at any moment and both of my parents have major issues, but I believe as long as I stay involved it might work. Otherwise, I may disown both of them and find someone else entirely. I’ll keep you posted, but in the end I just want my house to be free, peaceful, and secure.