Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Choice Between A Rock And A Hard Place Is A Difficult One To Make

Dear Tazi:

I am a college student, and I am paying my own way through school. My mother and step-father let me live at home without paying rent, but that is all they do for me. I have to buy my own food, and contribute to the cost of the monthly utilities in addition to paying my tuition - which I have to cover in full because I do not receive financial aid; my step-father refuses to submit his tax return, and since I am only 19 I am considered a dependant student. My Mom does not work, and is listed as a dependant on my step-father's taxes. My father passed away when I was six, so I have nowhere else to turn for a tax return to submit.

I work full-time and had to drop my school schedule down to part-time because I did not have the time or money to continue as a full-time student this semester. I want to major in Nursing, which is a full-time program and a full time job all rolled into one, so I am currently trying to save as much money as possible so I can take time away from work once I enter Nursing school. This has put me in a tough spot financially.

I do all I can to cut expenses. I buy all of my clothes at thrift shops, and what I can't get there I buy at discount stores. I do not drive my car, so I do not have to pay insurance, and as the weather has gotten colder I have bought extra blankets and sweaters so I do not have to turn the heat on in my part of the house. Because of all this frugality, I AM MISERABLE!!! Do you have any idea what it is like to have to buy your bras from the local factory seconds store? (Of course not, you're a cat, but you know what I mean!).

My elderly grandmother is quite wealthy, and is in need of home-care. She has offered to let me come live with her (for free; room, board, utilities, and use of an insured car included!) and give me a small weekly stipend if I agree to leave my job and make caring for her my full-time job, scheduling my classes for late-morning through mid-afternoon while she is at the senior center. This opportunity sounds like a dream come true! It will give me experience in the field of home health care; it will get me out from under my step-father's roof; and will give me back all that I have had to give up in order to complete my education. So what's the catch? My grandmother is a flaming racist, and my step-father is black. It is for this reason that my Mom is estranged from my grandmother; and she thinks that my grandmother is only offering me the job of caring for her to spite her and my step-father.

At this point, I am not sure if I would care if my grandmother was a Mexican drug lord so long as it got me out from my Mom and step-father's grip, but I am afraid that my situation will end up as my Mom is predicting: decide in haste, repent at leisure. She has told me that if I leave to live with my grandmother I will not be welcome back in our home. School let's out for the semester in early May, and I don't go back until the end of August, so I have the summer to make a decision if necessary (Grandma is not rushing me. She has told me to take my time to think about it). What would you do if you were in my situation, Tazi-Kat?

Arkansas Cinderella

Dear Arkansas Cinderella:

I read through your letter twice, just to make sure I wasn't missing anything, and both times I noticed that you never refer to your mother and step-father as your "parents" - your mother is always "Mom" and your step-father is always "my step-father". You do not say for how long they have been married, but it sounds to me that there is absolutely no father-daughter bond between you and your mother's husband. With your mother financially dependent upon your step-father, I can see why she would side with him on all fronts.

Although their treatment of you sounds extreme, it is their house and their rules apply - although I would think they would be willing to cut you some slack in consideration of your academic schedule and career goals. Since they have not, you have every right to do what you feel you must in order to put yourself on the path to success. I realize that your grandmother is a "flaming racist", and although I cannot approve of her attitude, it is not my place to pass judgment upon her - that will be up to you in deciding whether or not to accept her offer.

Should you choose to accept your grandmother's offer to come live with her in return for home-care and other incentives, you must be prepared to hear what she has to say on the subject of your mother's marriage. Your grandmother may surprise you by having nothing at all to say on the subject. In reaching out to you, she could be making an attempt to reconcile with your mother - people tend to do such things when they are nearing the last of their years.

If, however, your grandmother chooses to spout hateful comments about your mother and her choice of husband you - as a compensated employee - will have to tolerate her comments (to a large extent) or resign your position as her home-care aide. Once you can honestly answer how you think you would react to such racist commentary about your Mom and step-father you will know whether or not you should accept your grandmother's offer. It sounds to me that you have to choose between a rock and a hard place. You have my sympathies.


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