Monday, January 23, 2012

Most awkward talk ever

Tonight we had a fire family dinner with one of the families that is obvious about it being a chore. We were supposed to go to them in November, and back in December they told us January 22nd was the first Sunday they were free.

Danielle and I had a big talk about it, and she said it would be much easier to tell them to their faces, as we were saying goodbye. Her logic was that if we left them a note we'd worry about their reaction until we talked with them next. If we sent them an e-mail it would be the same situation. Danielle's suggestion was that we just tell them, as we were putting our jackets on, that everything is crazy hectic lately and could we contact them when things calmed down.

It sounded like the biggest load of bullshit to me. When I told Dani that she got angry and told me to come up with something better to say. The truth is I couldn't. The only thing I decided we should change is to add a thank you. On the way there, I begged Danielle to say it, and she refused. $32 later, she agreed. I gave her $10 as soon as she agreed and promised to give her the rest by Monday night.

When we were leaving, I took Alex's hand and walked a little bit away after saying goodbye, to give Danielle space to do her thing. It was too far away to hear what she was saying, but Dani later told me she went into some weird zone where she didn't even feel like she was inside her body as she was saying it.

I asked Danielle if she'd do this with all the people who don't seem to like our dinners. We then entered intense negotiations to sort out who would give the speech in the future. After half an hour and almost half a pint of ice cream it was agreed she will do the next one, I will listen, and then we will switch off and alternate.


Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

How did they take it?

Anonymous said...

I really think you ought to reconsider doing a formal thank you note, sent by mail, in addition to the awkward conversations. And I think honesty is the best policy so the "hectic" excuse and the "don't call us, we'll call you" business is probably a bad idea.

Learning to look someone in the eye and say 'thank you' is a good life skill - so taking turns with the 'speech' is a great idea.

Just Me said...

There will be lots of awkward talks in your life. I don't think the method of saying it just as you run out the door is the best way, even if it feels easier. If I were one of the families, it would feel like a rude brushoff, even though I know that's not your intention.

I tried thinking how it would best come across to me if I were one of the families having you to these suppers, and I would probably prefer to hear something like this (reworded into your own words of course):

"We really want to thank you for taking us under your wing over 10 years ago, and supporting us during a really difficult time in our lives. You provided an important connection to the brother we lost and this really helped us through the healing process. That need has now passed, and we feel like this might be the right time for us to cut back on the scheduled fire dinners. As we have grown up our lives have gotten much busier, and it's very difficult for us to fit everything in. It probably is for you as well. So now that Dani is preparing to head off to college too, it seems like a good time to end the formal dinner schedule. If you would like to stay in touch periodically in the future, it's certainly welcome."

Mizasiwa said...

I like the way 'Just me' worded what she would say - I think its hard to figure out when is a good time to do the talks and it might be worth a look into maybe doing these talks over coffee or somthing that can potentially take under 10 minutes or something. Maybe check which families you plan on cancelling with and see if you can talk to them a week or two before their week so if they want to cancel the lunch altogether they can. you did say that is seems like several of the families seem to give a vibe that they dont really want to do these dinners so they may be relieved that you have made the decision yourselves. - That could work in a note as well, with a call a few days later to check how it was received?

OTRgirl said...

I do think a formal thank you note to the awkward families, after the in-person farewell is a great idea. If it's possible to note specific meals/memories that makes it feel even more personal. That said, I think you're right to let that era end. It sounds like there are families that are fun, where you've developed a relationship with them that's not based on 'charity' or the past. It's great to continue building and seeing them. The families where they are dragging themselves to the table and you are doing likewise? It seems good to stop the hamster wheel for both sides.

I really like how Just Me phrased it. Also agree that it shouldn't be said in a rush out the door (even though it's harder for you).