Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Camera Bitch

Don't you just hate it when people take advantage of you? Especially your family? Me too.
Let me introduce myself, I'm the aunt of three kids - two girls, one boy. My oldest niece is an 11-year-old gymnast. She loves gymnastics and competes in the US Gymnastics Association's Junior Olympic program. She's a Level 5. There are 10 levels before the really serious competitions start. She loves it.
Since she was a baby, we've been very close. Her "mother", still a kid herself when she got pregnant, spent almost no time with the child. At the time, my husband and I were between homes and staying with my in-laws. The Niece (Ashleigh - I don't suppose there is really a reason to try to hide her identity... her name is already scattered in various places on the net) was left at Grama's house after her Daddy went to work. Her "mother" would see him out the door then go running off, usually in Grama's car, with her friends until just before he got home from work. Ashleigh bonded to Grama. Since I was there with her more than her mother, we because very close as well. I could get her to sleep when her mother couldn't. And to this day, when something special or important happens in Ash's life, she wants me there.
So I made this promise to her, when she started competing. She told me she wanted me to be there for her meets. I told her if there was any way possible, I'd be there. So far I have missed two. They weren't really meets, just exhibition type events held at her home gym. When I was out of work for a few months last winter, I was at the gym three nights a week watching her practice... because she asked me to come. Meanwhile, her mother is outside talking on her cell phone or running off to the store. She says it makes her nervous and she can't watch it. That would be a valid excuse I suppose, IF she ever watched at all. Besides, if it were my kid and she was doing something potentially dangerous, I'd have my eyes PEELED! If for no other reason, in the event something DOES happen, I should be able to tell the doctor what she was doing and how she fell/landed/whatever. Nope, she's just not interested. The only reason she goes to the meets is to try to look like the "perfect mom." This woman DOES NOT fit in with the "gym mom" crowd. And she only embarrasses the kids by trying.
That said... I have found myself dreading these meets. I like being there for Ashleigh. I love watching her have fun with her team mates and seeing the intense concentration and work ethic she has developed. I find it all very interesting. What I can't stand is the constant banter between my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. MIL watches every one of Ash's practices... WATCHES them. Yet she has no clue what the judges are looking for when scoring the gymnasts. She sees Ash doing what she thinks is a beautiful routine and then gets pissed when she doesn't score 9's. I don't know either, but I know some of it.. and the last meet we went to I was mentally scoring several of the competitors. I'd tell Jake what I thought the score would be, and seemed to be withing a few 10ths each time. Meanwhile, the MIL is sitting to my left bitching about stupid judges and "what are they looking for?" My SIL is on her left... the person who doesn't even watch the practices... telling her what Ash is doing wrong. MIL doesn't want to hear it... won't hear it. So, yeah, I tend to wander off with my camera and leave them argue amongst themselves.
The camera... here's the other reason I dread these meets now... and the reason for the Title of this post. It seems the only reason anyone wants me there, other than Ashleigh, is because I have the "fancy camera" and can take good pictures. This doesn't just happen in gymnastics, everywhere. I arrive to a birthday party for one of the kids, or a family get-together of some kind and the first thing I hear is "Didn't you bring your camera?" Then periodically throughout the event... "You should have brought your camera." "Wish you had your camera." "You sure could have used your camera."
Last year, when I bought my digital SLR camera.. I GAVE my old (maybe a year old at the time and in perfectly good shape) digital camera to the MIL. Not just the camera either... I gave her two sets of rechargeable batteries, a battery charger, SD card, carrying case, and an SD card reader for her computer. Last season, she brought her camera to all the meets, for the awards photos, etc. Now, she leaves it at home. Last time I saw it, the kids were running around taking pictures of each other. Nice.
So yeah, I'm the camera bitch. MIL calls to let me know the date/time of the next meet and always throws in a hearty "don't forget your camera!" I made photo CDs last year of all the meets. She bugs me now wanting to know what the next CD will be ready. I haven't made any this year. Went though several CDs last year, never was offered a dime to help recover those costs. I'm not doing it this time... not till after the State meet. Then she'll get one disc with all the pictures on it and that will be just fine.
In short... Camera Bitch doesn't care anymore. Between the constant griping, bitching, acting like they know what's going on when they don't, and being made to lug around my camera bag for hours on end because they just HAVE to arrive 4 hours early for EVERYTHING... Camera Bitch is getting tired. I hate to think I'll stop going, I don't want to do that to Ashleigh, but it's starting to look like that may happen before long. The fun just isn't there for me... it's like a weekend job that is taking up my entire weekend... and I'm not getting paid for it. WTF?

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