Thursday, May 03, 2007

rambling part II

To get some backgound on how I feel about this issue, you have to read here & here, and know that I have spent LOTS of time researching camps, etc. and Mr.Cotta has responded by completely forgetting our compromise and everything that went with it.

I am so annoyed with him right now, I am spitting nails.

It turns out that to him, there is only one possible camp, one acceptable choice, one camp on earth that is appropriate to send his children too. To him, there are no alternatives.

It's his way, or no way.

Which is unnecessarily rigid, IMO.

I have called ten or twelve different camps, spoken to directors, checked out prices, references, facilities, programs, food, access to emergency medical facilities, distance from us and our city, whether or not kids can call home, bullying & discipline policies, basic due diligence in my opinion. I have drilled it down to 2 or 3 I kind of like, and am willing to send my kids.

The ONLY camp he likes is one that is up north, far away, incredibly expensive and WASP central, both the insect kind and the snobby kind. Roughing it doesn't even begin to describe the conditions. Stiff upper lips & lukewarm showers are handed out at the door, and pedigrees are checked & approved. It's boys only, and every one of the campers & counsellors looks like something out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad, except for the children of Asian billionaires who attend. They have very rustic cabins, certainly not bug-proof, and I'm going to have to send him with a full set of bug netting so he can get a decent night sleep, and trust him to take care of himself, cause no-one else will.

In blackfly season, in the bush, in Northern Ontario.

To people who've never seen a cloud of blackflies, you simply can't comprehend it, but animals who have been attacked by them have gone mad, and humans? Well, there is a reason that no other country will ever be able to successfully invade Canada, and blackfly season and winter cold are pretty much it.

Never mind the whole, "we have no money for this" problem.

Worse than all that, is the problem of us communicating about how to raise our kids. We love each other, we love the boys, that issue isn't even relevant to the discussion. We both want the best for our kids.

The problem happens when we each try to define what the "Best" means. Mr.Cotta comes at it from the point of view that raising a kid well means that we should replicate everything he had as a child. That there is only one "best" way to do things. Mostly it works well, since he was given many wonderful things as a kid, many great opportunities. But lots of things he didn't get to have or do. There were many things good and bad about his family life. And the rose-colored glasses he dons when he looks back at that childhood betray his bias, I think.

It is at the heart of the conflict we have. And the heart of many of the conflicts parents have about the right way to raise kids.

I think that many of the things I was raised with were inappropriate. But some of it was okay. The average normalcy of my experiences, living in a middle class small town , even if we didn't personally have money, means that I am not so enamoured of money and class climbing. I never had much, so I feel like right now we're doing really well. Mortgaged but not overly debt-ridden anymore, living on a budget, being able to buy some things we like, but not being able to buy anything we like; I'm fine with that. Content, even. I like the neighbourhood we are in. I want to renovate, but I have zero desire to move to the Mansionville neighbourhood in my city.

I don't have affluenza, and I don't want my kids to get it. There is a middle ground and it is vast and has lots of options for us to pick from.

Mr.Cotta disagrees. He thinks that there is only one school/high school/university, one career for the boys, one camp, one neighbourhood, one kind of vacation, one type of life to lead. Achieving those things are his only goal, his only dream, everything else, not good enough, not acceptable. He is wants these things, and cannot understand any other point of view.

And what happens when it doesn't work out? When the "perfect" camp fails to meet his expectations, (Considering the build up he's given it, it can only fail, let's be honest. Heaven isn't this perfect. *eyeroll*) I worry that when life comes along and holy mackeral, his children might have opinions & preferences of their own and don't like it, or the camp does something stupid, or makes a mistake, he will be crushed.

I will be sad for him, I will not tell him "I told you so." But I will wonder how the hell we are going to make it through the rest of our lives without killing each other, if he can't open his mind to the possibility that other choices are good as well.

I feel like the Kate Middleton to his House of Windsor in this whole thing, and I don't know what to do.


  1. He can't possibly think he has the final say in this camp business, does he? Just as assuredly, you would not, either.

    We all want The Best for our children, but he seems to be equating "the best" to "$$" and that's not fair to any child to be raised with that value.

    I don't have any advice, but I certainly hope you two can compromise for the good of all three of you.

  2. It's kind of sad really... think how many experiences one would miss out on by not being able to imagine that there is an endless amount of "good" even "great" options out there. There are a lot of lives worth living- not just one.

    I hate to agree, but I think you are right that at some point something is going to come along that will show him that reality does not always live up to our expectations and dreams. Hopefully that will be a turning point for him and an opportunity for change.

    What will you do with all of the choices that lie ahead? This sounds really hard and definitely falls in the "love is not always enough" category.

  3. Oh, we certainly have had our share of childrearing disagreements. For us, it was the worst the first year of Monkey's life when JD's mother couldn't stop telling him all the things that we did wrong. I have no advice. Just hope you two can work this out.
    Oh, and in the Old Country, we went to the sleepaway camp for about 4 weeks at a time. I loved it. But they were much better organized and housed than what you are describing.

  4. This is one of those things that I wonder how couples work past it. Seriously. How does one partner work with the other, when the other partner, for all practical purposes is the bully? How does the partner not have permanent resentment for the bully? How does a partner have respect for financially irresponsible partner? How does one partner have a relationship with a bully that she resents and doesn't respect? God,I'm repeating myself. I wish you luck.

  5. I am hoping to avoid this particular parenting dilema as my husband didn't have much of a family life and mine was one sided (my mom was great, my dad was a tyrant much of the time). Rick and I have agreed to let go of how we were raised and forge a new path for our family. Think that is realistic?

  6. I hope you find a way to solve this. It's tricky, balancing those very real, very strong desires to do what's right by the kids.

    I never went to camp; nor did my husband - I can't imagine what we'll do when she's old enough for it to be an issue.

  7. I hope you can come to some sort of compromise about it. Will he even entertain your favourites? Those fly swarms sound scary as all hell. Going mad from flies, yikes.

  8. Is the camp he wants absolutely out of the question so far as you're concerned? If so, tell him that. He needs to find a middle-ground with you. Yes, yes, I know, easier said than done. But it will eat you up if you give in and give him what he wants. And it won't be what's best for the boys, either.

  9. Good point about needing to agree on so many things. Hope you can.


  10. If he is this way about most things Aurelia, he must have you on a pretty tall pedestal too. You had to be the perfect and only mate for him which I think every spouse likes to think. But we also know that a perfect "fit" doesn't mean everything is without blemishes or issues. Your hubby sounds a bit controlling from your description or am I reading too much into your post? If not, that is a red flag and one I might get a nuetral party involved to mediate a compromise, but I am not sure if he would even agree to that...and if not, I would like to know. Perhaps some counseling could be in order sooner than later?

  11. Boy, all this good advice and I'm just sitting here trying to figure out which camp you're talking about.

    Having been to a couple of overnight camps, I personally think the most important thing is that you like the "type" of kids who go there. Everything else can be fun no matter what, as long as you have a good social surrounding. And by "good" I mean "consistent with the values you want your children to hold".

  12. I wish I had some sage advice for you Aurelia, but I don't. It sounds like the kids are going to be the only ones to (eventually) make a dent in his perfect shell.

    As for the blackflies, I know ALL about them as I spent a number of months in northern Ontario through the summer and fall... hmmm... about 11 years ago now. Take a bush plane two hours north of Pickle Lake. It's stunning country up there, if you have any energy left to enjoy it after swatting the flies!

  13. Do the kids have a view? Or is this not something they care about? If they do have an opinion or a preference among the acceptable options, perhaps your husband would listen.

    I'm unduly sensitive on camp issues, mostly because from about age 8, I begged and begged my parents to send me away to summer camp. I even had one picked out, a wilderness camp up North, no doubt infested with blackflies.

    But my parents refused to let me go because they were divorced and couldn't agree whose time my weeks at camp would be taken out of.