Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Dani is much smarter than me. I can fight better than she can, and might be a little more street smart than she is, but other than that, she's definitely way ahead of me. Like when I do a math problem I start at the beginning and work through all the steps. Even with that, if I stop in the middle for any reason it means going back to the beginning. Heaven help anyone who interrupts during math homework. Dani can glance at a math problem and start at step four. She can barely write fast enough to keep up with her brain. When I have to write a paper, there are multiple drafts, lots of crossing out and editing. These things took me almost an hour to write when I started. Dani has almost the whole thing written out in her head and just types as fast as she can before she forgets, only stopping to look up a detail here or there.

When Danielle started science school she announced that she was moving out for college. She's spent three years talking about "when I move out..." I've always expected she would do it, and had some secret plan for how she'd afford it. Tonight after I thought Dani had gone to sleep, she knocked on our door and came to sit on our bed. Josh asked if he should leave, but Dani told him no, it wasn't a girly talk.

"This pains me more than you can possibly know. Sadly, it's probably going to pain you a lot too." I had no idea what she was talking about. For a second, I wondered if she was pregnant. When I looked at Josh it was obvious he was thinking the same thing.

Danielle is not pregnant. Thank god. Fifty times over. She's made a decision about college though, and she wants to keep living here, with the understanding she can stop sharing a room with Alex and take over the study room. I asked what about college and the whole moving out thing. Dani told us she decided it doesn't make sense. Kind of smiled. "You know your stupid budget that you're always checking? I kind of made two." She made one for if she moved out and one for if she stayed here. "It's really hard to earn enough money to support yourself!" Yeah, no shit.

I was about to tell her of course she could stay, but Josh cut me off and told her we'd think about it and let her know. Then he said good night, like he was dismissing her. I've noticed it's a rich people thing. His mother can say thank you in a way that lets you know you're to leave too. Danielle gave me a weird look, but mumbled good night and left.

Josh explained that we have all been planning on Dani moving out this coming August and for her to decide she's not shouldn't be something she gets to dictate. It seemed very parent-y of him, and like posturing for no reason. Josh suggested that we tell Dani if she wants to stay, then she has to work and contribute money to paying for stuff. I am not sure about any of this.


Mizasiwa said...

I think its a good thing that Josh stopped you when he did. I dont think its fair for your sister to dictate that all of a sudden after 3 years of saying she is going to move out and support herself she has finally figured out that how much you (and Josh) provide for her. I think its also fair that she pays towards some protion of the living expenses that is only fair considering what you have been doing for such a long time its time for her to pick up some of the are after all a team - all four of you!

C. said...

I don't like the "if she wants to stay" bit. I agree with the sentiment, I think. Not with the wording, maybe?

One of the reasons you're street smart is that as the eldest you had to face everything head on, and protected Dani and Alex. Her instinct that she needs to assert her independence was right, because it would wrong for all of you to keep them in a cozy nest until they're 35. However, I see nothing wrong with her keeping on living with you through college.

I don't know how much of rent/groceries/utilities she pays for right now, but it really is cheaper for you all to split the expenses. She just needs to be an equal partner instead of sheltered kiddie and she probably knows that already.

Kizz said...

I think one of the great things about this whole exchange is that, as much as she's been railing against you, you have proof now that she's also been listening. She actually absorbed information about why her plan might be unrealistic and why you were questioning it and she was motivated to do her own work to see that you were right and she needed to make some choices.

The next step in that lesson is that she can't expect to get a free ride. You guys have always been a great team and, as with all great teams, when a player gets stronger they contribute more. As a college student she has a level of freedom to pull more of the weight for the team. You're not asking her to do anything you don't do yourself. You're not planning to slack off on your work for the team. The whole team will be raised up because there will be more effort in the forward motion.

Hopefully she'll not only learn how hard it is to keep a family afloat, she'll learn how much easier it is when everybody pitches in.

Just Me said...

I agree with Mizasiwa.

I think I would ask her to go over her budget with you, to see how she sees things working, and then you and Josh can discuss them privately and see if you agree or propose adjustments. If she plans to take over the study, then by all means she should be an equal contributor to the household expenses.

OTRgirl said...

I think that was wise of Josh. It is part of giving Dani room to grow up and not letting her coast along. Agree with other comments about her stepping up and contributing to the family in a new, more adult way.

Maybe you could do a budget based on how much it would cost to 'rent' the study, pay for her share of groceries and utilities, etc. The other budget item would be a savings account to save up toward a deposit on an apartment after she graduates. Sit down and work that out together and then you and Josh discuss privately. It'll help Dani take it more seriously.

Nina said...

I agree with the other comments. I think Josh was wise to step in and I think that you both should have a say in whether and how Dani stays on. I think that in order for Dani (and eventually Alex) to grow up, she needs to contribute meaningfully to the household expenses, including rent. Between the 3 of you, you can figure out how much is reasonable, but it isn't reasonable for her to expect things to go on as before. You may have taken on the role of supporting your sisters, but when Dani goes to college, she's an adult too and should have responsibilities that are in line with the reality of your situation. It's not fair to you, and ultimately, it won't be fair to her either.

Anonymous said...

Here's the mother-of-grown-children perspective, for what it's worth, since Josh is seeming all parent-y and stuff:
1. Good for her for being realistic.
2. Good for him for stopping you and telling her it would be a discussion.
3. Definitely add "financial contribution" to the list of expectations.
4. Brace yourself. Living with a college freshman who has been effectively your responsibility but now feels "grown" can be challenging.

I know you'll all work it out.