I’m going to direct my anger today at an unusual source because he’s being a total a・・hole, which is a little unusual. I mean, I’m used to my husband, father-in-law and various male relatives having less than stellar outbursts, but my brother in law has been a real piece or schnitzel lately.

He is the Robert in this sitcom, the single older brother living across the street with his crazy parents. He has just turned 40, and so far is getting an F+ in his performance of His Lordly Firstborn Son duties, namely getting married and producing offspring. He gets all the inheritance (which I think will amount to a thirty year old apartment and a set of used golf clubs) in exchange for financially supporting his parents in their old age and providing them with a Yome (daughter-in-law) to be their live-in caregiver and housemaid, as well as Uchi-Mago (inside grandchildren, or grandchildren they live with and can spoil rotten.)

Since Big Brother hasn’t married, much less ever done his own laundry, then these crappy Yome duties will fall to…me

Yep, the parents-in-law are screwed. They’ll be eating cold cereal before riding on the pink bus to the granny daycare, then coming home to spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Every Japanese old person’s nightmare.

Considering my very presence is saving him from an arranged marriage with someone who will probably insist he pick up his own socks, you’d think BIL would be nice to me once in a while. But this being Japan, I guess things never seem to turn out the way we think they will.

The climax came yesterday evening when, after calling both of my children 悪い子, bad children, a number of times for no reason, he verbally attacked me. The conversation started off innocently enough:

MIL: How’s the homework coming along?
Me: It’s slow going, but we’re working a little every day. Some of my friends said their kids didn’t have homework at all! Lucky things,
MIL: I guess it depends on the teacher. At least with assigned homework you know what they should study.
Note: She said this using a term that could mean “something for them to do” as well as study. 宿題があればすることに困らない
Me: If we didn’t have any homework, I wouldn’t be making them do anything.
Everyone laughs


BIL: That’s just what your problem is. Your kids are never gonna get ahead in the Japanese system because you don’t push them. How are they gonna get into a decent high school?
Me: By the time they’re that age, don’t you think it should be their responsibility?
BIL: You’re failing your kids. They’re gonna be failures and it’s all your fault. They’re getting left behind. On and on ad nauseum.

Gee. Dramatic much?

The longer I am here, the harder it seems to get. In some ways, he’s right. I don’t understand, nor do I care for, the Japanese juken system. Is it the end of the world if your kids don’t get into a great high school or college? Why should they forced to spend all of their time studying from first grade on, if not before? Geez, you’re only young once. Children should play. There’s more to life than sums and kanji.

Of course no one defended me, and BIL continued his ranting for a while.

He’s been struggling with depression on and off for years. I’m sure that sucks. I’m sure it sucks even more to have to go through that here, where mental illness has a huge stigma attached to it. I know his parents have not been supportive at all. In fact, I may be the only person who has tried to listen to him and understand a bit where he’s coming from.

But come ON now. That doesn’t give him license to treat other people like crap.

Had a talk with HRH this morning. He did NOT help me out yesterday, but he agreed with me that BIL has been a real jerk lately, and that it’s better if we don’t spend a lot of time around him. Sucks for the grands who I’m sure were hoping to spend a lot of time with the kids during winter break, but they don’t step in when their Majestic Oldest Son gets out of hand, and I can’t allow the children to be attacked and degraded for no reason. I shouldn’t have to put up with it, either.

Family, eh?



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. illahee
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 14:34:56

    is there any way you can just pull yourself out of that situation? i mean, if he starts in and you’re at his/the in-law’s place, can you just go home, with the kids (leave your husband if he’s so inclined)? that’s what i would do, but then i don’t put up with my MIL’s shit any more. it would probably work best if you inform your other half that this is what you are going to do in the future and it would be best if he didn’t interfere. :)

    and it seems to me that the summer and winter vacation homework is a joke anyway. just pages and pages of the same old thing (of course, i only have a first grader at this point.)

    and finally, he may be family, but i hardly see where it’s any of his business how you raise your kids and support their education. what a prick!


  2. Kaiju Wife
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 19:33:27

    Ah, poop on your BIL. Don’t let him bother you. According to DH who works in HR, J-college grads can’t tie their own shoes. So you don’t have to bother with all that juku crap anyway, because what’s the good of a “proper” education if you can’t do doodoo….


  3. Kym
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 20:25:14

    Is he in love with you or what?! Bizarre. Pretending to be their father?! Ahhh, kids with Australian passports can just say screw it, and fly off to the land where we don’t have to pay uni fees up front. Must be much harder for Americans.
    At least BIL helps the rest of us feel a bit more sane, even tho he’s not so great for your sanity!


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