My mom hates it when we are at the dinner table and I pull out my phone to check the time or a text message on the lock screen. I’m not even really doing anything other than looking for less than 3 seconds, and she scolds me and tells me to put it away. She says that dinner time is family time. I agree with that, but I don’t object to checking a lock screen for a few seconds. Yet, despite that, when we are having dinner with my dad and uncle, she will happily pull out her phone (which is a dumb phone, so there’s really nothing on it to “browse” other than names in an address book, which is quite pathetic) and start tinkering around with it right in her face. I tell her to put it away, and she gives me a dirty look and says she’s just looking. It’s fun to discipline your mother as she disciplines you. She is clearly paying no attention to what is being said, nor does she care. She just wants dinner to be done with as soon as possible so she doesn’t have to see my uncle anymore. She claims that my uncle doesn’t respect her because she’s from Vietnam. What she doesn’t realize is that it’s for different reasons that are far more legitimate… and they are really about how she’s treated Ed and me growing up and how he doesn’t agree with it.
Why are there so many layers of disgust and contempt and grudges in this family? I’ve heard of some pretty terrible things, such as my dad’s best friend Bob who died last year, and how he was in an ongoing lawsuit with his own brother about their father’s inheritance that he had left behind. Because Bob took the most care of his father in his old age, his dad decided to leave his large inheritance just to Bob. So Bob’s brother wasn’t happy with this and sued him. It was never settled before Bob died, so I’m sure that Bob’s brother is still pursuing it against Bob’s wife and son now. Granted, nothing has gotten that out of control with my family, but I’d say that in some cases, it’s even worse. There are problems and grudges that have never been addressed or resolved, and no one wants to do anything about it. My uncle tried his best to reconnect with my dad during his heart surgery, but it fell completely flat because my dad is so socially inept and cannot see that his younger brother was trying to be there for him. He just gives short responses and goes into his own little world, tinkering with his pills and pill case and sorting out his medications as though no one else is there.