A follow up to my Guess Who's Coming To Dinner post.
I went out to dinner with my boyfriend's daughter a few nights ago. He was in the city working, and I hadn't left the house all day. That's not entirely true. I walked to the beach (a block away- don't hate me- it's still Jersey-ooh, Jersey just took a hit) excited at the prospect of clearing my head and pumping some much needed blood to my ass. I had been sitting at my desk for hours!
However, I misjudged the weather, and I was cold. My long and luxurious walk turned into a stroll around the block, and bringing the garbage pail in from the curb.
We went to a terrific Vegan restaurant in the neighborhood and had an enlightening (for me anyway) conversation. As a G.M. (Girlfriend Mom) Wait, I'm totally patenting, copyrighting, licensing, branding, or some such shit, this G.M. thing. Don't even think about hijacking it. I know people who will hurt you.
About a week ago, I almost hurled myself off our third floor deck. From what I could gather, (and I wasn't actually in the room, so I can't swear to it) my boyfriend stepped into the shower while his daughter sifted through the movie shelf in our bedroom. We don't have a door separating the bedroom from the bathroom, don't ask.
I flipped out. I mean biting my fingers, on the verge of tears from total helplessness, flipped out. I clenched my fists so as to hold in my anger (?). I looked up to the sky (well, ceiling) as if to say, "Did you see that? What the f?" I walked in circles for a few moments, hoping to shake the image from my brain. I couldn't. It would forever live on in my memory bank.
I tried to calm down and understand why no one else was flipping out. Or walking out of the room, so her father could hop in the shower. Or why her father didn't ask his daughter to leave so he could take a shower. Has everyone gone mad? Do I have to play hall monitor for the rest of my life?!
This brings me to the topic of two types of homes. Naked and clothed. I grew up in a half-naked home. Which goes hand in hand with the double-edged sword, and mixed messages that I also grew up with. My parents weren't as modest as I would've liked them to have been. I only had to see my dad in his red, nut-hugger bikini's, once, to know that I did not want to EVER see that again.
Perhaps I overreacted but I was caught off guard. I was miles from my comfort zone. I let my reactivity subside and did some think talking about why I got so bent out of shape (nut-huggers). I wasn't able to entertain the idea that maybe this was acceptable behavior in my boyfriend's pre-divorce family. I was only thinking about how uncomfortable I felt.
I didn't just fall off the banana boat. I'm well aware of the cultural (he's Portuguese) component. And I'm also aware of society's influence. I probably shouldn't judge, and to each his own and whose to say what's right or wrong. I mean what about those women who breastfeed their kids until they go off to college! I like to think that I'm an open minded, offspring of hippies, free to be you and me, kinda of G.M. But as it turns out, I'm NOT. Bring on the boundaries, clear, delineated lines, modesty and clothes!
The topic of inappropriateness and boundaries came up organically at dinner with my boyfriend's daughter. I was elated. She told me that she grew up in a naked household, and I told her that in some ways, so did I (nut-huggers). But I also tried to explain that it's a different dynamic with the four of us now, because the reality is, I'm not her mother and it does affect how we all behave.
I couldn't articulate the feelings as well as I wanted to, but she was in total agreement. Now that she opened Pandora's box, I continued.
I told her that I needed her and her brother to respect those things that made me uncomfortable. Again, she smiled and nodded in agreement. I felt a thousand pounds lighter. And when I started to back pedal on the word inappropriate, because I didn't want to dramatize, traumatize or cause any shame or embarrassment, without missing a beat she said, "Oh, no, it's inappropriate."
I expressed myself without defending myself. Then my boyfriend's daughter told me that she and the rest of the clan think it's funny when they hint at something they know I think is inappropriate, because they enjoy seeing my feathers ruffled. Yay.
She knows what it is to respect one's feelings, and I couldn't be happier. I took the bull by the horns and was surprisingly comfortable standing up for myself. It wasn't okay for the G.M. and she does have a say in the matter. I matter! Whoopee!
Okay, relax, G.M., relax.