Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Manual-Labor Vacation

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the manual-labor vacation.

Nicole: (Am dealing w/ propane delivery so will return later!!!)

Danny: enjoy your propane!!!

Nicole: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH THIS QUESTION

Danny: HANK HILL REFERENCE

Nicole: I THOUGHT THEY MEANT LIKE

“WE HAVE TO MAKE OUR BEDS”

Danny: OH NO

NOT AT ALL

it’s MIXING CEMENT

Nicole: Okay, back on duty: what the HELL

And most of this is taking place at their parents’ RENTAL properties

like

tell them your hourly rate for mixing cement

Danny: “forgot to renew my forklift operating license this year, sorry, union rules”

Nicole: What’s nice here is you are still in your twenties, so this is not going to be breaking the habit of decades.

Danny: yes! what’s also nice is that I can offer you the GIFT OF CLARITY re your last question:

of COURSE refusing to help is going to cause a fight

Nicole: HAVE THE FIGHT

PACK SOME GLOSSY MAGAZINES AND PUT A CHAIR UNDER YOUR DOOR AND HAVE A NICE LIE-IN

But no, all jokes aside, tell them it’s not happening

Danny: yeah, and if you don’t trust yourself to back up your “no” while staying in their house, book a hotel nearby and tell them you look forward to seeing a movie/getting dinner/playing with the kids once they’re done with work for the day

Nicole: YES

Danny: and tell them in advance and calmly, so it’s not while you’re sleepy and in your jammies and already in their house feeling fifteen again

Nicole: I JUST!

Her poor husband.

Danny: because you know what you had to do as a teenager? DO WHAT YOUR PARENTS SAY

so do whatever you can to avoid getting in a teenaged mindset

Nicole: I truly wish my husband’s parents had tried this with me.

Danny: because that mindset’s going to tell you that at the end of this fight you have to do what your parents say, because they’re your parents

oh my god can you imagine

Nicole: Bc I would have loved this fight.

I can taste the metallic tang of blood in my mouth

I would have told them to get stuffed. But also my husband would never have let them do this.

this is BONKERS

Danny: yeah I’m really amazed her husband has been getting pushed into this too!

like, did it never occur to you to cheerfully take him out to breakfast the last time your dad knocked on your door at 7am?

Nicole: I would suggest they sell some of their rental properties if they cannot afford to do the required upkeep.

Danny: “Sorry Dad, we’re on vacation. We’re going out for pancakes and maybe to a movie. Let us know when you’re finished!”

Nicole: Yes!

also, how on EARTH have you not already responded to “why do you spend more time with Derek’s parents?” with “bc you make us break rocks in the hot sun, you fools”

Danny: yeah you need to let this dream of “keeping my parents happy with me” go

Nicole: Yeah, sometimes we do not get everything we want.

Danny: “i don’t want to ruin the visit” the visit is all contract work!

the visit is already ruined

this is 100% worth fighting over

Nicole: It’s R U I N E D

I want to offer to come life coach her through this

just show up on the next visit, do some power poses

Danny: honestly if it were me I’d just not schedule a next trip and encourage them to come to stay with us next time

and if they say “oh we can’t because we have to LITERALLY KICK ROCKS” I’d say “Sorry to hear that! I hope you can set aside some free time later in the year”

Nicole: Yes, honestly, I think just refusing to visit for now is best, she’s not quite ready to refuse when the door-knocking at 7am begins.

Danny: yeah and you have a really great reason!

and make it clear that the terms of your future visits are just “we won’t be helping out with the properties; do you need us to stay in a hotel and meet up with you at the end of the day, or are you able to set aside a few free days for us to stay with you?”

Nicole: YUP

Danny: and again, always being really prepared to shut down any underhanded attempts to trick you into the work: calmly leaving the house and just…not picking up a sledgehammer

Nicole: stand there limply

Danny: you are allowed to disappoint your parents, especially if their expectations for you are unreasonable

Nicole: if they toss you something, fail to catch it

Danny: but this won’t happen, like, secretly

you can’t put up a cardboard cutout of yourself that’s smiling and ripping up hardwood flooring to fool your parents

so they always think you’re working while you’re secretly watching TV

Nicole: LOLOLLLLLL