Back in April, my dad surprised me and came to the States to visit me--on the exact same week as my grandmother's planned trip. Since he didn't want to fly from Phoenix to San Diego (for a number of reasons), my brother accompanied him. You would think that with 5 people, there wouldn't be time for the usual inquiries and inquisitions. You'd think wrong. There is ALWAYS time and opportunity for an inquisition. Historically, my father has some basic concerns: 1) my weight 2) my marital/parenthood status 3) direction of my career (=income). The best way to make me provide details is to bring examples from people we know and let him know where I am in relation to those people. I have hated these 'examples' (comparisons) my entire life.
This is a close paraphrasing (and occasional exact quote of the conversation):
'Your brother and I were talking on the drive over. He was telling me about his job and how stressful it is. I'm really proud of how focused he is on his job.'
'He really is doing well. I think he works too hard, though. He needs to pace himself, otherwise he'll burn out and hate everything.'
'He showed me this blackboard they have in his office. They have it on his computer*, too. It's a list of everyone at the company and who's the best**. He's been tied for either first or second for at least 5 months now...'
'I know! My baby brother*** is so cool! And he makes it look so effortless. I love that he doesn't just go for the money, he educates people and cares. You have no idea how unethical people are willing to be, just for a little extra money or to brag.'
'So, how about you?'
Blank look of confusion.
'Are you at the top of your blackboard?'
So I spent a good half hour explaining my job, how project management is evaluated differently and how my group is isolated so there isn't anyone else to rank me against.
'Are you saying there's no one else in the company that has a similar position?'
'There are, but different.'
'So where is your name on the blackboard compared to them?'
'Dad, we don't have a blackboard. Our work isn't measured like that.'
'Are you telling me that your name isn't even on the blackboard?! BUT WHY?! Can't you try just a little harder?'
And this is why I say I'm a perpetual disappointment to my parents. This was also before we even got to the topic of my burgeoning obesity which will kill me before my time. My poor parents cry just about every time we talk about anything outside of the weather.
*My father is not very computer savvy.
** My brother is in sales, not project management which is why it's easier to compare his work against his co-workers.
***He hates it when I call him my baby brother, but it's true. He will always be my baby brother.