You may remember that, earlier this year, I had mentioned that my sister-in-law (my wife's sister) had died, and my brother-in-law and his son were going to be moving in with us for a short while while he found work in this area. My wife and I envisioned that they would be with us for only two or three weeks, given that he quickly found a job, and had found a buyer for his house within a week of putting it up for sale. But the two or three weeks turned into just over 2 months when we finally had to have the talk with him, and it will be over three months by the time he moves into his apartment.
The reason I am airing family issues like this is because it has some important lessons for anyone thinking of taking in family or friends after the SHTF, or even more "mundane" incidents like our family events of this past summer. Some lessons learned:
- Clearly set expectations. I had concerns about how long my brother-in-law and his son would be staying, so I had at the offset discussed with him that he would need to get into an apartment before looking for a house, because he wasn't probably wasn't going to get into a house quickly, and it would give him time to settle into his new job, get his son settled into school, etc. I had a similar discussion with after his first month here. The problem was that this type of friendly discussion was not direct enough to supersede his personal preference to get into a house as soon as he could. In retrospect, I should have told him more clearly that we were only hosting him until he found an apartment, and discussed our respective goals and expectations about the length of his stay.
- Don't Wait Too Long Before Clarifying Expectations. As a consequence of not confronting him earlier about getting into an apartment, his attitude had changed from being grateful for our helping him move and letting him and his son stay here, to his being upset that we were not willing to let them stay longer.
- Resentment Can Easily Build. Although we never had specific expectations about his helping out, after he started getting pay checks from his new job and was sitting on a tidy profit from the sale of his house in Seattle, his failure to offer to help with grocery expenses or with chores (and taking off with his son whenever our family started into house work or yard work), began to rub the wrong way. I changed from feeling welcoming to being seriously annoyed.
- Families Need Private Time. As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, both fish and guests begin to stink after a few days. Having guests disrupts normal family activities and schedules, and it is stressful to accommodate different personalities, habits, preferences as to food and entertainment, and so on. I remember when I first read James Wesley Rawles' book, Patriots, I thought that a group of people that large, living in such close quarters for so long, would not be the domestic bliss portrayed, but probably result in a serious fight and dissolution of the group. I'm convinced, more than ever, that I am correct.
This weekend, I took my kids to a Renaissance Fair. On the way, we apparently ran over a screw or nail, and wound up with a flat tire. Surprisingly (to myself), rather than be upset, I saw it as a great opportunity to show my younger sons how to change a tire. So, I had them watch and explained everything I was doing, and why.
Last weekend, I had some time to sneak out to shoot a friend's new S&W revolver. However, it didn't go very well because the cylinder was only irregularly advancing, not turning about half of the time when cocked, whether single action or double action. It was not an issue of the cylinder binding. In investigating the issue more closely, I determined that the problem had to do with the "foot" not engaging the cylinder to turn it when cocking the firearm. After some extended dry firing and repeated cocking, the problem seem to disappear. I can only presume that there was bur left over from manufacturing or a bit of grit that was interfering with the foot. It was a good reminder that new firearms must be broken in, and thoroughly vetted, before being depending upon for self-protection or hunting.