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Monday, April 05, 2010

SBD Julie and Romeo again

I got the first book from the library and now I have the second. All the things I liked about the first are here. Great voice and humor, sweet but not too winsome. Just enough gentle snark to work without being over-the-top New York nasty. Kind of chick lit for older women. I love Jeanne Ray and wish she had more books out.

BUT there's just one tiny thing wrong and it's like a sore toe--ruins the walk.

The older daughter is essentially rotten to Julie and the younger one isn't a lot better. I don't mean they steal her car or take money from her wallet. I mean the way they talk to her. And then the other generation isn't doing so great either. The granddaughter runs the show. Get that girl some earphones, for God's sake. And professional help.

Since we're talking about me me me (see basic blog philosophy: it's all about the blogger) I know to an outsider (or some outsiders) what I let my kids get away with would make those outsiders' teeth hurt, they'd be clenching their jaws tight trying not to inform my kids they can't talk to their mother like that.

And maybe it's because I can see some of my own self in that way she has of just trying to make her life easy by ignoring their rotten manners to her. It's easier to let rudeness go rather than get into a fight about it.

I'm not guilty of bad parenting, I don't think. Just about every parent in the world has a tolerance for a kid's behavior that no one else can stand. Maybe it's the way the kid sings the same song over and over. But at a certain point, the kids have to stop. Say, once they move out of the house. Yeah. Then it's done. There will be no more demeaning talk. But these are adults we're talking about.

IN this book, the 40 year old and 36 year old daughters get away with talking to Julie in the same manner I let my kids get away talking to me sometimes. My excuse is the kids are teenagers and it's easier not to constantly fight when their hormones are running the show. I do draw the line when things are calmer. And if it keeps up, eventually I plan on telling them, no, you're an adult, I'm drawing a line here, sweetie. I don't talk to you disrespectfully, you don't talk to me as if I'm a moron. Of course, my kids will point out that I do, in fact, talk to them disrespectfully, so they're not the only ones who have some act-cleaning-up to do. But this will happen. Has happened in the past, will happen again. There is a certain modicum of respect that one must treat even one's relatives with.

The heroine of this book is always sweet to her kids and grandchild. Always loving, not sarcastic, nothing like me.... but the way they talk to her? As if she only has one brain cell firing? As if she doesn't have basic rights in her own house to boff her boyfriend? Even if they had the ugh response to 60-something-year-olds getting it on, they should keep it to themselves.

Anyway. Ugh. Hard to get past that dumb detail so I can pay attention to the rest of the book. I want her to tell those adult kids of hers to straighten up and fly right. I want to shake the kids so much it makes my teeth....you know what I mean.

Anyway, that detail is what's sticking. It's like listening to a whole song that's off key. The words might be lovely but that one note off means the whole thing is kind of ....painful. That might be the conflict driving the book but it's even worse than the standard misunderstanding sort of conflict that can be solved by a conversation. This could be solved by a "keep it to yourself and pretend to be polite even if you don't feel that way" foot down conversation.

Although it did end up fine. So it was nice.

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