Family dysfunction at the lunch table

Today, Chris and I met with my aunt, my cousin, his wife and their child for lunch. It was one of those predictable lunches where we’re not really having flowing, natural conversation, and it’s more fragmented with random questions and answers, the occasional interruption by the young child, and food or saliva flying in different directions. My cousin’s son, who will be turning 7 in about four months, is definitely maturing a bit, but he seems so much more infantile than I ever remember being at his age. When I was his age, I remember eating with regular sized forks, knives, and chopsticks, cleaning off my own plate, and never having any assistance with any food, with the exception of shellfish like lobster and crab. At that age, I was expected to eat chicken on the bone and get all the meat off them, too.

I looked at my cousin’s child, and I felt so sad observing him. I guess I feel sad in a lot of ways every time I see him because I remember being there when he was born, within the first year or two of his life seeing him regularly, and also noticing all the dysfunction around him. I can’t really spend as much time with him as I’d like because his parents are insane and helicopter-overing him. I used to always have these fun visions of taking him out on my own at around this age, bringing him out to the playground, treating him to ice cream. All those seemingly enjoyable images will never become a reality. This was never what I envisioned, but that’s the thing with family estrangement and dysfunction: you are rarely, if ever, always in control of how your relationships with your family go. If someone decides to be selfish, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to deal with it. Or, if someone randomly chooses to no longer respond to your texts, phone calls, and e-mails, there’s nothing you can really do to get them to care about you, is there? People do not think about this deeply when they judge others for not being close to family, particularly family who are nearby. Perhaps that’s just indicative of how shallow our society is. We want to imagine everyone has a happy functional family, and when we do not fit that expectation, we get blamed. But, to each their own stupidity.

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