During my first marriage, when I was 20 years old, my in-laws came to visit us for the first time. One day while they were there, the mail came with four letters, each notifying us of one or more bounced checks, with huge scary fees on each one. I'd NEVER bounced a check before. Instead of putting the letters aside and dealing with them later, I was all upset and I explained why. So my father-in-law tried to figure out what happened, by GOING THROUGH OUR CHECKBOOK. Furthermore, he kept saying things like, "$5 for a mail-away crockpot cookbook? Did you even verify if this company EXISTS? You'll never see THAT check again," and "$70 at Target?? What FOR??"
He finally did find the error, and it was a stupid and simple math error (adding rather than subtracting) that had made me think we had a thousand dollars more than we did have. And I would have been more grateful to him for finding it if he hadn't completely laid bare for humiliation every single purchase we'd made, as if the things we'd spent money on were to blame for the error. And if he hadn't made me feel utterly and eternally incompetent for having made a stupid and simple mistake.
I have been known to over-assume a "one strike and you're out" policy in relationships: one mistake and I can assume someone else will never let my non-mistakes outweigh it; one point of disagreement and I can assume the other person won't want to be friends anymore (and the internet, with its "YOU SAID ONE THING I DON'T LIKE AND SO NOW I'M DONE READING YOUR BLOG!!!" does nothing to make me think I'm over-assuming it, either). But whether or not it's generally true and whether or not I'm usually right, I did think in this situation that my father-in-law would now never think of me as a competent adult. It was one of the many sources of relief I felt at the divorce: now I could start over, with a clean slate and a balanced checkbook, with no one in my new life knowing I'd made a math error.
(The actual error, as I know now, was that I let him take the checkbook and fix the error.)
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...