The Benefit of the Doubt

We bought some kaldereta from Mina’s over here in Queens this afternoon so I didn’t have to cook dinner.  Coupled with some Potato Salad from FreshDirect, it was a great meal.  Alan had his rice, I ate 2 pan de sals.  I’m happy.

I think it’s been a productive afternoon more so since I was able to visit my favorite hairdresser, Kelly, for a trim.  Yes, the hair is growing despite the constant trimming and people are actually beginning to believe me because they see the hair is taking shape.

I have letters to write tonight and I really wasn’t planning to write a post but certain developments this afternoon have compelled me to stop here for a bit and rant.

Parenthood is complex enough without other people meddling in your affairs.  I have mentioned it time and again here that there will always be certain matters that will remain a parent’s prerogative which we should respect if we are not the parent who has the right to exercise the prerogative.

The almost eighteen year old stepson continues to be a problem for his parents, and the one I am married to is once again on the spot.  It makes it harder that the one putting him on the spot is his own mother who has decided she will help her wayward grandson to get an apartment with a friend and set him up.  Alan has been under a lot of pressure from friends and relatives to reach out to the boy who refuses to show any respect nor deference to his father.  Just minutes ago he called and asked to speak to his grandmother who was already sleeping, then afterwards, asks for the cellphone of his mom.  As we would say in the vernacular, ni ha ni ho, wala kaming narinig. 

Perhaps the relatives who are trying to “intercede” are well meaning, but they wouldn’t have to say anything if only the boy would be willing to level off with his Dad.  Instead, last Christmas, when his father was calling to ask him where to send his Christmas present, he simply hung up when he recognized his father’s voice.  He encashed the check with nary a thank your nor a Christmas greeting.  As far as he is concerned, he doesn’t need his Mom or his Dad — after all, there’s grandma who will always be ready to give him money to get drunk on and buy his cigarettes and who knows what else..  So what is there for others to intercede in if the other party they speak on behalf of refuses to come to the table?

I feel bad for my husband because his Aunt speaks of giving the boy the benefit of the doubt — yet she refuses to give Alan the benefit of the doubt.  To them, whatever the stepson has become is the fault of Alan and his ex-wife — which while it may be partly true cannot we cannot accept 100% because there are those other family members who coddled and spoiled the child rotten.  The ex-wife may be no Mother Theresa, but I believe she is not as horrible as the stepson has painted her to be.  Any level-headed person who has heard his stories will see the exaggeration and the fabrication, just as we know he has painted the same picture of us to relatives on the other side.

I hope that my mother-in-law will not realize too late in the day that her own coddling of her favorite grandson has rendered her son’s efforts to set him straight for naught.  I fear the stepson will never make peace with his father for as long as he can run to his grandmother.

I can only imagine that to them, I am the evil stepmother.  In this picture, I don’t really care what they think of me, because what matters to me is my husband.  I used to tell my stepson that whatever he thinks of me, no matter how he disrespects me, I needed him to show his father the respect he deserved.  Our arguments were not so much because he wouldn’t talk to me, or that he wouldn’t acknowledge my presence in the house all weekend — but that he would disrespect his father and talk back to the one person who never gave up on him.

People think Alan has given up on his son.  On the contrary, he keeps hoping that his son will one day realize the folly of his actions and come back to him.  But after almost 18 years of talking himself to death and pushing his son to keep going, even he has realized that no amount of prodding or encouragement will make his son change if he himself refuses to change his ways.  Sometimes, there are people who need to realize things on their own because they will not listen to the voice of wisdom, wherever or from whomever it may come from.

I am from a broken home myself — I am not a perfect human being.  But I always tried to overcome and I don’t think I didn’t turn out so bad.  I’m happy in a small home because it is a home we own.  I wake up each day next to two boys who mean the world to me — the father and son who give me the inspiration to go on.  I’m glad that we are in good health — and I sleep at night feeling blessed.

I have always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt — but I also know that there are always two sides to a story.  So when I hear one, I try my hardest not to judge anyone based on one side — there is always that other side you don’t hear, and as far as I am concerned, it’s all hearsay.  Perhaps that’s the lawyer in me — both as far as the benefit of the doubt and one side being hearsay unless I heard it or saw it for myself — but I try my hardest not to be judgmental as I don’t want ot be judged myself.

It’s a parent’s prerogative that Alan has — so I’m taking a step back.  I fully support him in whatever he decides to do.  And right now, I’m behind him as he just lets it all pass.  After all, his mother had told him not to try and stop her from spending her money on her grandson.  Operative phrase there: her money.  But over and above that, people seem to have forgotten about who the parent is. 

When I see situations like this, I look inside my heart and I say a prayer that may I not be the way they are when I am older and a grandparent myself.  I hope I will not forget what it was to be a parent before I became a grandparent.  I hope I will be able to remember this day when Angelo is trying to discipline or set his children straight and I will not lose sight of the fact that I am a grandparent only — no matter how much I may love my grandchildren.