Isn’t It Funny How Our Priorities Change With Age?

The old man opened the vault last week. Last month was the first time he didn’t lose a ton of our money since he became an investor and it triggered un uncharacteristically generous response. Of course, I leapt at the opportunity to spend.

Photo from Sophie Elvis on Unsplash.com

I’m sure I must have mentioned that we’ve owned our current sofas for almost twenty-two years? Or that our television is so old it doesn’t fit through modern doors and has to be turned off manually? And that our dining set is from IKEA, circa 1800, and I bought it with my first pay after Kurt was born?

According to the old man’s philosophy, the money we spend is about making my life as miserable as possible “financial choices” i.e. nothing to do with an appreciation for antiques or sentimentality, although I believe that it also has something to do with the old man’s natural parsimony, his complete disinterest in what our house looks like, and my uselessness with money – as in saving money. That’s why – and I am embarrassed to admit this – I relinquished joint control of our bank account a long time ago.

I know…bad feminist!

Anyway, unsurprisingly, furniture has never featured highly on his list of priorities (unlike top-of-the-range golf clubs and wasted memberships at gyms), so the deal he offered me last week – to purchase two sofas, some dining chairs, and a new tv for him – could have knocked me down with a feather.

There were a few conditions, OBVS: I had to pick the furniture within an hour; it had to meet the practicalities he deems important ie. the color had to be a practical shade of neutral because of the Princess’s habit of wiping her bum and her spaghetti mouth on them; and I was NOT TO GO OVER BUDGET.

Sometimes, it really is like he doesn’t even know me!

And, honestly, I can’t describe to you the anticipation both of us felt as we travelled to the mall like a proper, grown up couple going furniture shopping. Although, then again, this grown up business does seem to be becoming a bit of a habit, if you remember here.

Of course, his generosity in terms of patience in the furniture stores didn’t extend as far as the family wallet. He lasted all of five minutes in the first shop before he had his first tanty and I had to send him packing to the tv store, which brought back horrible memories of Hawaii and our lifetime ban from Avis. Which left me an hour – negotiated up from half an hour – to find the furniture we will most likely wee and die on, before he changed his mind.

And I did it. The furniture had been ordered and is due to arrive before Christmas, and I am …well …not nearly as excited about it as I thought I would be, as I admitted to Tightarse the other night.

‘So if what would excite you if you could buy anything?’ he asked me, stifling a yawn.

Well… not the material stuff, anymore. We are lucky, we have everything we need. No, these days what gets me really excited is the thought of giving, having new experiences, learning about new stuff, the luxury of time (if I have the option), being a part of social change, and er…food. The prospect of taking the kids out to dinner and giving them free range to pick what they want from the menu – even dessert; shoving $50 in their hand when they need it – because I remember how much we appreciated the gesture from my in-laws when we were hard up; travel, education, and the freedom to do exactly what I want. All of those things excite me more than plush new sofas that someone will spill red wine on the minute I’ve unwrapped them – although, needless to say, I still made sure they will arrive before Christmas, in time for the family visit from the UK.

Isn’t it funny how our priorities change with age?

What excites you now?

Time To Tame The Tightarse

I don’t mean to drone on about the old man’s obsession with ‘my spending’, but it became blatantly apparent to me this week that he has a problem. With my problem. I could justify it as yet another symptom of middle-aged, spousal intolerance, but simply put, there really is nothing attractive about a tightarse, so I have decided that he needs help.

It’s taken me a while to come up with a proper diagnosis for his condition, but his miserliness has now developed into full-blown misanthropy, so it’s time to consider some medical intervention.

Often with these mental health issues, there is an underlying problem that causes under-stimulation of certain processes in the brain. But fortunately, the brain can to be re-trained, through learned behaviour. I am hoping that eventually the old man will develop a kind of immunity to the negative feelings he obviously experiences around  my shopping habits so that the physical reflux reaction he seems to get when he spots my expenditure on his precious housekeeping spreadsheet, will ultimately stop.

An analogy can be drawn here with vaccines created for children’s ailments, such as chicken pox, whereby a strain of the diseased cells is injected into the child’s body to build immunity against the disease. By exposing the old man directly to to some self-imposed acts of ‘over-spending’, those naughty, begrudging feelings of his, will be int theory be replaced by goodwill.

The HSC Queen teen has been helping me in my search to find the best treatment solution for the old man. As much as we both would like a quick fix, we have decided to begin with a less invasive course of treatment, initially, as it has become increasingly more apparent just this week how serious his issues are becoming. When he suggested the other day, (tutting and shaking his head in that ‘disappointed Victorian father role that he does so well), adding a new column to his spreadsheet for the increasing number of medical bills the rest of the family is incurring, I reached my tipping point .

From that moment, we began our ‘meaness to niceness’ campaign in earnest.

The HSC Queen teen and I had been begging permission, recently, to be allowed to take a mini-break in Noosa to celebrate the end of her exams in November. I see it as a kind of alternative Schoolies, (she obviously doesn’t). We felt it was a justified break. The old man and the ADHDer recently returned from a ‘bonding’ 5 day skiing holiday (where no expense was spared), so I assumed that if we kept our little break budget-conscious, we’d get it through ‘finance’.

WRONG!

Apparently, HIS trip was a ‘parenting mini-break’, a duty-call, organized to give ME a break.

Every time our break was suggested, a low-level grouchy growling ensued from either the old man or the dog, I’m not sure which.

But for the sake of his recovery, we decided to ignore his ridiculous reasoning for us not to have some fun, (because we know that in situations regarding  money, he often just needs a ‘stewing period’, a time to calculate and pontificate). And if you unleash the Mastercard at that point, while he’s in mid-stew zone, it’s probably your best chance.

So we did.

I admit to feeling a twinge of remorse as I finally hit the Virgin ‘pay’ button, but reassured myself that I was doing it to help the old man and I had, after all, saved him money by only taking hand luggage, (and shoes alone for four nights weigh 7kilos).

But it’s simply just not in his nature to let it go, to enjoy ‘giving’. The money has gone from OUR bank account, the deed is done, the HSC Queen and I are going to Noosa, but like some evil bald Chucky doll he just can’t give it up, can’t let us savour the moment.

‘I still can’t quite believe that you two are going to Noosa,’ he has begrudgingly whined several times at the dinner table, with that look of incredulity and hurt on his face; the look of a man betrayed and defeated.

Blossom courtesy of leodelrosa at www.flickr.com