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John is forcing this out of me.

About a year ago, John's mom, pictured above (John's links were obviously defective - what an unforunate mistake!), innocently asked me if I would participate in a fundraising venture for a very worthy cause. This cause, which shall remain nameless, benefits developmentally disabled adults like John's sister by providing them with safe places to live in communities where they will be welcomed and assisted with things like transportation and personal finances. I have hesitated to write about it because I fear that any criticism I may direct towards the passive-aggressive behaviors of certain family members may unfairly and incorrectly belittle the actually human amount of respect I do have for the fundraiser and its purpose. So, two disclaimers:

1.) Anything stated about an individual's clearly annoying and pushy behavior should not be taken as a slam against the good deeds this individual also happens to perform.

2.) Um, actually? If I can't get my message across that this has nothing to do with the fundraiser itself, then I have more to worry about than offending readers, because apparently I need to stop posting anything at all until after I take a communication class.

On with the story...

This will require another update later in the week, because the actual fundraiser, which, as John mentioned, is a fashion show, does not occur until Saturday. As my mother-in-law (see above photo) informed me two weeks ago when she tracked me down at my sister-in-law's house to inquire for the 68th time about when John's photography donation would be ready (because there were only two weeks left and she lives a whole three miles from our house and with our busy schedules when were we going to be able to get it to her, answer her already, answer her!), planning this event has been "like planning a wedding - with a lot of long term things to do and then a mad dash for the last month leading up to the big day." Who is the bride, the center of attention, the one we all have to walk on eggshells around so she won't bite our heads off on THE BIG DAY in this instance -- the recipients of the fundraising proceeds? The fundraising participants and donors? The attendees of the fashion show? Nope. Keep guessing. I'm sure you'll figure it out.

When my mother-in-law originally approached me to request that I participate in the fashion show, she asked me to work on the invitation design committee, and also to model some clothes. I tried to be polite about the modeling, but I think my answer was, "not just no, but hell no." So to appease her, I agreed to help with the invitation design - I had the resources at my disposal at work anyway, and I figured I'd have the time, what with all the hours I spent twiddling my thumbs at my then-job. A few months went by, and she asked me AGAIN if I would model and design the invitations. Again, I said, "only if you pay me a trillion dollars" to the modeling part, and "sure" to the design part - wondering why we were having this conversation for a second time. A few days later, she called MY MOM and asked her to model, too. My mom said a polite version of "I don't think so, woman!" but agreed to attend the fashion show with me. Weeks after that, I still hadn't heard any specifics about any "design committee meetings" but I got another call about the fashion show: "can Bryce participate in the part where all the kids go up and listen to story?"

HUH? I thought this was a fashion show. What the hell is going on with a story time segment? I. AM. CONFUSED. She said the "theme" of the show was grandmothers and grandkids, so they were having one of the modeling grandmothers do a "bedtime story" with the modeling kids. She assured me Bryce wouldn't have to model, but they wanted lots of kids to sit in front of the "grandmother." Then she said she "purposely decided not to include me on the design committee" since I was "so very busy and had such a full life already"... uh, okay then. I think I just got rejected from something I didn't even want to do! How did she DO THAT? She's talented, though, because then I agreed to let Bryce sit with his cousins during the story time, even though I knew he would be completely bored during the remainder of the non-kid-friendly event.

A few more months went by, then I got the previously mentioned wedding comparison phone call at my sister-in-law's house during which she proceeded to force me to promise to crucify John if he did not commit to a certain date and time that he would deliver the auction donation he had promised her repeatedly for the previous six months. A few more days, then another phone call, a cheery voice on the line: "Hi, we need another kid model! Could Bryce do it? Don't you think he'd just LOVE it?" I was starting to lose my ability to be polite about this thing. It was all feeling pretty passive aggressive and all about her image and not about the disabled people anymore. Plus, she called me on a Sunday night, so I was coming off a weekend with the kids and hadn't yet numbed my senses with enough wine. NOT the best time to call me and sound phony when asking for a favor. I did something I have never done with her before: sat in silence, not affirming whatever it was she just said. Normally I can't stand the silence with her. It tends to fill with judgment and tension and unspoken discomfort and dislike for admittedly shared personality traits - normally I have the energy to fill the silence and keep things comfortable for both of us. But not that day. I thought long and hard about my response, and my tone: "Fun? For Bryce? Walking into a room filled with strangers all staring at him, wearing clothes with (god forbid) TAGS on them, in a situation he hasn't previously dictated and/or approved? No. Not fun. Maybe for other kids, but...no. Not for Bryce. Fun wouldn't be the word I'd use."

"Well, he'd be with ME, and his cousins; it's not like he'd be alone. It would be so much FUN! Don't you think?!" (What did she think I'd say at this point? "Oh, now that you put it that way, forget my entire previous comment! DUH, YES. YES! It would be fun!!! That's what I meant.")

More victorious silence from me. Then, "I'll talk to him about it to see if he's interested."

Confused silence from her. I can only assume her inner dialogue was something like "Can not compute. Asking the person you want something from if they WANT to do whatever YOU want them to do?? Warning! Warning! System overload."

Well, I did talk to Bryce, and I tried to explain what a fashion show was, but I'm not sure he understood, because he got really excited about the prospect, first asking what kind of costume he'd get to wear, then telling me that he couldn't wait to get out there and do a big dance for everyone, and he proceeded to jump around like his feet were on fire and he was surrounded by hungry mosquitos.
I started to tell him that he was supposed to walk quietly and calmly, serenly following his cousins and grandmother, and his clothes would probably just be boring old regular clothes, with TAGS, mind you, and not cool costumes with accessories like the ones in this picture, but then I thought better of it.

She likes to play the passive aggressive game, huh? Won't take no for an answer? Well, my singing, spasm-dancing, confused and innocent kid will be the drunk uncle who humiliates everyone by shouting all the family secrets into the reception microphone at her wedding, while she stomps her feet in protest and tells us she hates us all for ruining the day that was supposed to be all about her. Oh wait. It's not about her. It's about the fundraiser. The cause, or something? Some people at some place needing some things? Luckily by the time the attendees arrive, they've already paid. So Bryce's bonus performance shouldn't negatively affect the money raised. But he might make this event a hell of a lot more entertaining for me.

By the way, John gets to stay home with Quinn. I think it's a conspiracy.