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As Far Back As I Can Remember... - Future Television Writer
July 2006
Wed, Apr. 19th, 2006 10:54 pm
As Far Back As I Can Remember...

The man conflict in my house has always been between my mother: the spender, and my father: the saver. Earlier in my life, I always sided with my mom. Why? Because I was a selfish child and I was the one reaping the benefits of her spending. Now, I remain more neutral. I see both of their points and I'm going to examine them right now. 

First of all, to understand thsi conflict, I suppose one needs to understand where my family stands economically. My father is a teacher and my mother is a school secretary. These aren't exactly known as lucrative jobs, but I wouldn't say that I've ever felt things were tight. I go to a school where I am well below a large number of kids in terms of money, but also above quite a large number as well. The way I place myself is as such: In the school parking lot, I have one of the least appealing cars, but I still have a car, which a lot of kids don't. For some reason, I've always felt like among the people that I hung out with, I had less than everyone else in terms of money, but I also never felt like I really wanted for anything. I always felt like I could have pretty much whatever I wanted within reason. Maybe that is because of my mother. 

I recall countless instances in my youth when my mother would buy me something and instruct me to hide it from my dad. I also recall other times when she wouldn't tell me to hide something, prompting a large argument between them. My father is a very conservative man. Not neccesarily in politics, but in terms of money. He's always talking with disdain about people with large credit card debt who live lavishly. He believes fully in living within your means and he could care less about keeping up with what other people have. My mother, I think, believes the exact opposite. She is constantly trying to keep up with people she knows and not look like she has less than them. I understand why she does this, and although it sounds like an unattractive quality on paper, I think it is very human. I sometimes feel the need to do the same. 

Recently, I feel like I've been spending a lot less money and asking for a smaller amount of things than I did when I was younger. Part of it is because I don't get out as much, which always costs money. Part of it is because a lot of the material items that attracted me when I was younger have become unimportant to me. I've become attracted to other material items, though, so I'm not really sure how this didn't all balance out. Either way, I haven't really had to hide anything from my dad in a while, and I can't remember witnessing any of these fights on account me recently. Still, I have, on occasion, witnessed this type of fight on account of my brother. He is in college and everytime his credit card bill comes in there is some shouting. I wonder if that will happen with me next year. I doubt it. He's always been more of a spender than I am. 

Anyway, though, what prompted me to write this entry was one such fight that occured tonight. This was one of the biggest ones that had occured in a while. In about November of last year, my brother had totaled a car that was given to him by my mother (which, of course, prompted another argument). Not only did he total the car, but he totaled it in a one car accident, which made my father think even less of him as a driver than he already did (my brother had been in a few previous accidents, but nothing major). He didn't think that my brother had proved himself deserving of a car. One, because he thinks that people should get a job and earn money before they get something as big as a car, and two, because he can't drive for shit. So, anyway, earlier tonight I had prophetically asked my father what they were going to do about Matt's car situation and the insurance money that they got which was given to them without a raise in the insurance. He said that my mother would eventually get him a car, but he still didn't like the idea. 

Fast forward a couple of hours and I'm upstairs during a commercial of Alias when I hear yelling downstairs. I go down to find out that my mother has purchased my brother a brand new car. Some of his insurance money had gone towards his trip to Colorado last month, but she still used about the same amount that was given to buy the car. This meant that she had used some money that I suppose we don't really have. I've always wondered whether these freak-outs that my father goes through were warranted. Whether one such purchase could make us truly feel the burden of having less money or whether it was just that the principal of one such purchase could lead to a life of excess in which we'd be continuously awaiting the next pay-check just to keep food on the table. I'd say it's probably the latter, and obviously something that he's over-dramatized. I doubt that even without the constant warnings from my father, my mother would ever be that irresponsible with money. 

It's also interesting to note that my mother pulled off her biggest "hide this from your father" yet in this instance. When she returned home tonight at around 9:40, it wasn't the first time she had returned home tonight. She first went to the car dealership at which her brother works, purchased the car, and had him drive it back while driving her own car here. Then, she drove him back to the dealership and drove it home. She got the car here without either of us even realizing that it was outside. She had come home without telling us. Quite sneaky, if you ask me. I wonder why she even went through the trouble if she was just going to tell him within ten minutes of walking in. 

I actually think that while the fights are annoying, the two extremes represented by my parents actually work together nicely to create solid balance. My father keeps my mother from spending so much money that we'd go bankrupt, and my mother keeps my father from having a house wtih nothing in it. I also would never complain about what I've been given in this area in life. I think I'm very priveliged and that such a high percentage of the world has less than that it would be foolish to be upset at all at my family's financial situation. The only thing that makes me take note of it is that, like I said earlier, I see a lot of people everyday who have more than me. I suppose it nicely puts things into perspective, but it also grates. It especially is bothersome because there are not many people on earth who see excess as a good thing as much as teenagers do. Money and certain posessions are a given around so many people I know. I sometimes wonder if they have a dad like mine. It's not that I resent him for how conservative he is, it's that the older I get, the more I lean towards his side.