Saturday, July 5, 2008

Oh, Family Gatherings

Sometimes I feel bad for relatives of military people. I can slot pretty much all of our extended family (and the extended family of our military friends) into four categories:

1) Military relatives. Obviously they "get it." While you may not like their JalepeƱo Apple Pie, you don't have to worry about dumb questions from them (usually).

2) Endless Questioners. "So do you really move that much? Can't you just tell them you don't want to deploy? What types of planes are those again? How long is your commitment? Do you think...." The worst form of this is the relatives who don't understand "I can't tell you what I know about that" or "I can't talk about that." I am always embarrassed for them (after all, I know how it feels to be told that Einstein can't tell me something) but I am also constantly shocked at how people try to get around it by continuing to ask questions about a topic he has told them is off limits!!! What is that about??

3) The Know-it-Alls. This type of relative (I have a LOT of this type) are the ones who never served a day in the military in their lives, but know all about the military. They seem to honestly believe that they know it all and are constantly trying to impress Einstein (and whatever other poor souls are sitting on the deck with him) with their encyclopedic "knowledge." Some of these types are fairly harmless, and can even be amusing (the uncle who always tries to finish Einstein's sentences and is crestfallen when he is wrong). Some of them (my uncle) are annoying, patronizing and dead wrong about pretty much everything. ("You'll see how it is after you've been in awhile" Um, excuse me? You were never IN the military!) Also, this type tends to think they know more than me (the little wifey). Naturally, this makes them my least favorite.

4) The Oblivious. These range from those who have no understanding/experience with the military, and who have so little concept of what the lifestyle is like that they do not even realize the differences from their own lives. Some of these are the apathetic relatives, who also tend to be narcissistic. My least favorite is this type are those who actively dismiss you after they hear about the military affiliation. That drives me crazy!

My revelation for the weekend is this: it is hard for the "civilian" relatives to break free from these categories, because if you don't ask a million questions or act like you know it all, I am liable to think you are Oblivious. So what is my perfect relative like?

They are as interested in asking questions about Einstein's life as they are in asking questions about his cousin's med school antics. They never assume they know more than he does. And they don't dwell on it overlong (for instance, trapping Einstein in a corner the entire night of a family barbecue and grilling him about military life) before moving on to other topics.

1 comment:

Semper Gumby said...

You totally captured how I feel about my mom's side of the family. When speaking to my husband: "You're a Marine? How many people have you killed?" It's so funny how the Marine-mystique applies to even our family members. Fortunately, my hubby's family are all military brats or priors themselves, so things flow smoothly there. (Although because of this they kind of ignore the whole writing letters, sending packages during deployment b/c they've all been there)

You'll never win. But at least you can rant later.

I found your blog through loquita because we oddly both want to be librarians! I'm going to be an official lurker now so I can live vicariously through you.