Sunday, November 6, 2011

You decide everything

My sister and I got into a huge fight the other day. She called me a lot of mean names that made me cry later, when she wouldn't know. Dani said I was bossy and controlling. That I make all the decisions, all the time. That I never let anyone have any fun.

What prompted this? I refused to pay for college applications for schools Dani isn't sure she'd want to attend, even if she got in. That is what makes me a bitch. Also, I am always the one deciding what we're having for dinner. Okay, she kind of gets that one. But I only do that because everyone expects me to. If I don't go food shopping, then at least I'm the one making the grocery list. If I don't, then nobody will, and everybody will complain to me there's nothing to eat.

It is bossy of me to demand other people set the table and clean up the kitchen. I should just ask, I was told. And if people say no to my request, then I should suck it up because after all, I'm the one who decided to make the food, not them. FINE. Then you are not welcome to eat anything I cook. In fact, you can't eat anything I buy. Also, you can't use any of the house dishes or pots or pans to cook the food you buy. At that point Josh got involved and claimed I was going overboard, that Dani should be allowed to use dishes and cookware since they don't get used up.

So now she has her own little section in the refrigerator and cupboard, and her own bottle of dishsoap at the sink. Alex feels like she has to pick a side, but I told her she didn't. She asked if I'd be angry if she helped Dani. I think she lent her money for some of her groceries.

One of us will have to die to end this fight. It's not going to be me.


JJ said...

Oh, sweet Sam. I think this fight is more about Dani getting ready to move on with her life and you being (reasonably) afraid of that. Not about groceries. Or about college applications (Dani should ask her guidance counselor at school about fee waivers. Most schools give fee waivers if the guidance counselor attests, basically, 'This student can't afford the fee.' Problem solved.)

Unfortunately, I don't know what to tell you about the big stuff, except this: you did a BIG thing, raising your sisters. Like, an amazing thing, a life's work kind of thing. And that time in your life, that you gave to your sisters, might be ending soon- but it's because you raised them right. And they'll still be your sisters, but now they will get to be your friends instead of your responsibility; you'll get to be equals, without taking care of everyone. And your life won't end. It'll expand. You're only, what, 20? You have your whole life ahead of you, to do new things and spread your wings. It'll be okay. You'll all be okay.

Mizasiwa said...

Iv been down this road and im living it again with my sister so i hear you - only thing you can do is to let her do her thing her way. She will eventually understand why you do the things you do how you do them but its still a while till that happens. Also speak to Alex becouse she needs to be reminded that she doesnt need to take sides. its hard but try to not be upset if it looks like she is taking sides. Maybe this will teach her that its a good idea to share the shopping/cooking. maybe you should suggest a week by week roster?? Good luck

Nina said...

Agreeing with JJ. Even though Dani isn't being totally reasonable, it's totally normal for her to act like this. She needs to figure out how to be her own person apart from who you are in her life, which is more than a sister and not quite a mother, but somewhere in between.

Practically speaking, maybe you could offer to pay for a limited number of applications and then tell her that any more she'd like to apply for (whatever seems reasonable to you?), she needs to find a way to pay for them. It's one thing for her to want to apply to schools she's not sure she's interested in attending; it's totally another for her to expect you to pay for it. That said, it's generally recommended that people apply to a range of schools and have options just in case they don't get into their first choice schools. It's not a bad thing to have options so it's not like she's being totally unreasonable in wanting to do that. But like I said, it is unreasonable to expect you to pay.

Zephyr said...

You're acting like the parent that you have had to be... Dani is acting like the kid who is trying to find her independence. She wants to be heard and treated as an equal adult, and that can be a difficult transition on both sides.

It's a tough time, and it's important to give her the ability to make choices. But it is NOT your responsibility to suck it up and do all the work unless you choose to do that.

If Dani wants to be treated as an equal, perhaps you should give her your responsibilities at times. Let her be responsible for the menus, food shopping, cooking, etc for a week. She asks others for help when she needs help for things like setting the table and clean-up.

She may quickly learn that it's good to have help, and that if you don't help other people when they ask, they won't be so willing to help you in return.

She may even learn that she doesn't have it so bad after all.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you, Sam. Sorry I don't have any advice; I'm 2x your age and there are plenty of times I feel like crying when in a similar situation like yours, only the battle is with a 7-yr. old.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you really should be able to waive the fees on college applications. (This is not uncommon.) She can ask her counselor how to do so, but it is not a difficult process. That would solve one issue...