Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, rejoice — the anonymous mailbag is back and your favorite college football team is undefeated! (Unless you’re a Miami or Arizona fan).

Sorry for y’all.

But the rest of us are undefeated and the universe is a bright and shiny place filled with only good vibes. (Until late Saturday night when half of you will want your head coach fired and to have half the scholarships yanked off your favorite team).

But until then the anonymous mailbag can solve all your life’s problems. As always send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Stop wasting your life and go listen to the new Wins and Losses podcast with Rachel Bonnetta today. It’s fantastic, trust me.

Here we go:

“My wife and I are debating whether or not we should have a third kid.  We currently have two girls, ages 5 and 3.  They are both healthy and happy kids.  I keep having this feeling that I want to, and need to have a son.  If I had another girl, that would be great too.  But I’ve always been a diehard sports fan, and I want to be able to share that with a son someday.  You know, watch games, coach, discuss player moves, etc. 

Sure, my girls will probably like sports, and they’ll fill out a bracket with their dad when they get older, but are they going to be taking off work and wagering on every game with me? Will they wake up in the morning, watch highlights before they go to school and give me all of the breaking news like I did with my dad? Probably not. 

My wife and I both have good jobs, so money wouldn’t be the issue.  She is 35 and I’m 38, so I feel like it is now or never. The other kicker is that unless my sister or my daughters have a kid someday out of wedlock and keep our last name, our last name is gone. I’m the only guy left with a chance to keep the name going.  My wife isn’t against another kid, we just can’t seem to make a decision, which is making me think we already made the decision, if you know what I mean. The thing holding me back is the fear of something happening with the pregnancy or the new kid and it changing our life forever. What do you think?”

Have a kid, but plan on having another daughter.

It seems to me like there’s an abnormal number of people with either three boys or three girls, way more than would occur from a purely statistical sample size. So once you have two of the same sex, I think you should plan on having a third of of the same sex. (Note: I have no idea if data reflects that having three kids of the same sex is more common than it should be, but it sure feels that way.)

We have three boys, but I feel like if we had a fourth kid we’d have another boy.

So if you only want to have another kid because you want a boy then you shouldn’t have another kid because you’ll probably end up having another girl.

But the advice I’d give for people who aren’t sure if they want another kid is to go for it. I don’t think very many people end up regretting having a third kid. I honestly can’t imagine our family without our third kid and I was the driving force behind this decision.

Now if you — or your wife — are done with having kids, that’s different, clearly don’t have another kid. But if you aren’t sure if you want another kid, my advice would be to have another kid.

(For the record, I would have had a fourth kid too, but my wife said we were done. So we’re done. If one of you feels very strongly about having an additional kid and the other parent is dead set against the idea I wouldn’t push it, but if both of you aren’t opposed to it, I’d do it.)

Good luck.

“I’m a normal 32 year old guy and need some advice.  I work for a great company (sales) and make pretty good money. I’m married, we have a 3 year old daughter and we’re working on kid two.  

My wife’s parents are LOADED.  The family plays polo (horses/they own 15), exotic vacations, multiple homes across the country, expensive cars, exclusive hunting plantations, etc. A level of wealth I’ve rarely seen.  

We have a nice, but older split level home in an incredible Atlanta suburb. The location is amazing, we have great neighbors/friends with little kids, and the neighborhood has a country club with a pool, golf course, tennis, etc. Unfortunately, the house isn’t up to my wife’s or in-laws standards (they live in Florida but visit a lot), but it’s on a great lot and in the best school zone. We’ve only lived here for a year. 

During Sunday dinner, my wife said her parents offered to knock our house down, build a custom home on the same lot, and pay for our rent during our temporary displacement. Her parents see it as an investment. I don’t want to be tied down to them because they own the home I’m living in.  Plus, it goes against everything my parents ever taught me (hard work).  I would love a custom built house worth $750k, but I want to do it on my own.  I told all of them no and they currently think I’m insane.  I hate handouts.  They want fancy accommodations for their ATL visits (plenty of nice hotels around here). Any suggestions on how to handle this?”

First, it’s really weird and controlling for your wife’s parents to offer to build you a home that THEY own. I actually think it’s way less controlling for them to offer to build you a home and just gift it to you — tax free — over the next several years. (Consult an accountant to be sure I’m not screwing this up, but your wife’s parents could gift you, your wife, and your daughter $90,000 a year — once you have kid two that would go up to $130,000 a year — and you would own the house in a few years without any encumbrances).

I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to just accept a home as a gift, but I think that’s much less weird than building you a home to live in that they own.

But if this is their opening offer — we build you a house and let you live there for free while we make money eventually off the investment — why not have them build the house, but take a loan out with them just like they are the bank handling your mortgage?

Then you can slowly pay off the money they loaned to you, but you maintain some form of financial independence.

After all, if your wife’s parents are super wealthy why do they need to invest in a home like this and own it? Whatever they make on your home would pale in comparison to what they could make elsewhere so this is more like a gift than anything else. It seems strange, and pretty controlling, that they’d want to own the home you guys live in.

So why not allow them to build the house of your dreams, but at a loan rate that’s essentially zero and requires you to eventually pay it off? You promise to pay them back over 15 or 30 years just like you would any other mortgage and they put down the money to build the house. Sure, it’s an advantageous treatment you’re receiving — most people have to take out their mortgage loans at a bank — but as long as you are paying them back the money you and your wife will still own the home and you don’t feel like such a wuss for living in a home you couldn’t afford yourself. (Plus, you get a better interest rate and don’t have to amortize your loan, meaning you’re paying off the equity you borrowed from the start.)

I don’t begrudge your in-laws for making the offer — if they truly have the money and want to ensure you can live a better lifestyle, good for them — but I also, like you, wouldn’t want to take their money without paying it back.

There’s also a bit of a warning sign here — your wife wants a lifestyle that you may not be able to provide your family on your own. Maybe that won’t matter since eventually the two of you would inherit substantial sums of money from her parents, but you have to be careful that your in-laws don’t continue to use their wealth to parachute into major family decisions and dictate the choices you and your wife are making because the only way you can afford to make those choices is because of their financial support.

Now’s a really good time for the two of you to discuss the boundaries you want to set up.

Also, I think those boundaries are likely to be challenged with your kids more than they are with you. If it’s starting with a house you can best believe that grandma and grandpa are likely to be involved in school selections too. They may want to pay tuition to a private school you and your wife wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. That can sound great at the outset, but what if your relationship with your in-law’s doesn’t remain solid in the years ahead? You have to be comfortable that you aren’t putting your family into a financial lifestyle you can only afford thanks to the financial support of your in-laws.

My advice is always to live on the budget of your prior job. That way, at least in theory, you’re prepared if you suffer a financial setback. Most people don’t do this, they spend whatever they make and assume the good times will continue indefinitely, leaving almost no safety net behind.

So enjoy the house, but pay for it too.

And live a paycheck behind.

“I recently rekindled a friendship I had with a girl for most of my younger life. Once we moved off for college, we lost contact. Now we have both relocated near our hometowns, and just so happened to run into each other. We are both in our upper 20’s, she is married with a kid, I am single. We have always been nothing but friends. Obviously we have started talking again, and from what I gather, she isn’t just thrilled with her marriage. Basically she has told me her sex life sucks, and our conversations have at times become pretty sexual. We have never been anything but friends, but she is super hot, and I would be crazy not to have sex with her, given the opportunity. I definitely would not make the first move, with her being married, but if she basically insists, and says her marriage is over, what is my play here? I do feel like I am flirting with a thin line of disaster.”

You’re single in your upper twenties.

This means there is an incredibly fertile range of women you can chase who aren’t: 1. married 2. with kid(s).

This woman is already telling you her marriage is in trouble. If she’s telling you this — a friend she hasn’t seen in years — it’s unlikely you’re the only person she’s telling this to. She’s unhappy and she wants as many people as possible to know that she’s unhappy. As a result her marriage will (likely) collapse, or won’t collapse (many people stay in marriages they hate for decades), in the near future, but you can’t be the reason that happens.

You need to back away now.

If her marriage collapses, you can hook up with her when she’s single without any danger at all.

If it doesn’t collapse then you’re the other man in an ongoing marital relationship.

How do you think the husband in this relationship might respond if he finds out and decides to blame you for his wife cheating? This just seems to be a high risk, very low reward scenario. Best case scenario you get sex, worst case scenario you break up a marriage, force a kid to lose both his parents in the same home, and the husband decides to look you up to kick your ass because he blames you for his wife cheating.

I’d stay away.

There are plenty of women out there with no entanglements at all. Focus on them.

“I am a 22 year old who just started my first year at a solid law school in the SEC who needs advice from the internet’s favorite gay muslim. I have been dating a girl since our freshman year of college who has been adamant about the fact that she does not want to have kids.

I didn’t really think about it much when we first started dating in college because I didn’t know if I wanted kids or not, and also assumed that she would change her mind as she got older. She just took a good job in a different city and it would be difficult for her to get a similar job in my city, so we aren’t gonna be able to live in the same city until I graduate.

We talk about life without kids a good bit and a life without 2am diaper changes etc sounds appealing to me. When I see the things my cousins sometimes have to deal with and the effort involved I think i never want one of my own. But other times kids are adorable and sweet and I see myself having one in the future. I love her, and so do my family and friends. She is cute, funny, a very laid-back girlfriend and I really want to be with her. I want to continue to date her until I figure out if I want kids or not. However, I know that I will never be around this many good looking girls again and I would never forgive myself if I realized that I wanted kids and broke up with my girlfriend after doing long distance for three years. I think there is still a decent chance she changes her mind, it could just be wishful thinking, but I think there is a large percentage of girls who said they don’t want kids in their early 20s who end up having them. What made you realize that you wanted kids? How can I make this decision faster?”

Dude, you’re 22.

There is absolutely, positively no reason why you should be planning on kids right now. Especially not while you are about to start your first year of law school. The first year of law school is like intellectual boot camp, you need to be focused on getting your contracts and tort readings done, not thinking about kids with your girlfriend.

What’s more, if you’re a first year law student now and you plan on practicing law at a big firm, you shouldn’t have any kids before the age of thirty anyway. Seriously, trust me on this, you’re going to have to work your ass off as a young lawyer and it will be virtually impossible for you to be a great dad and dominate as a practicing attorney at the same time.

So while I appreciate the fact that you’re already thinking about having kids — and that would make you many women’s dream, a young lawyer who wants kids plays well with women everywhere — you are way too young to let this be a major point of contention in any relationship.

Having said that, if you’re a guy and you already have the feeling that you might want kids when you’re 22, you’re probably going to want kids when you’re 32. As you age — and attain more financial stability and success with other aspects of your life — I think your desire to have kids becomes more of a driving force, not less of one. (This is even more true for women.)

Most people, but not all people, once they get married, buy a home, and start work look around and think, “Is it really just going to be the two of us for the next fifty years?”

Then they end up having kids.

But not everyone.

Some people really don’t want kids. That’s certainly a perfectly fine choice to make, but that’s a decision you need to make in your thirties, not your twenties.

Now, a further tip from an older guy to a younger guy, some girls thinks it’s incredibly rebellious to say they don’t ever want kids when they are your age. I know many girls who told me when we were in our twenties that they would NEVER HAVE KIDS.

And do you know what almost every one of those girls has?

KIDS. OFTEN, MULTIPLE KIDS.

That’s because most of these girls change their minds by the time they get married and get old enough to actually contemplate having kids.

Some don’t, but most will.

But, again, you’re 22. Don’t worry about this at all right now.

The bigger issue, to me, appears to be that you’re uncertain whether this is the girl for you and you’re using her opinion on having kids as the reason why she might not be the girl for you. You’re 22 and starting law school, if ever there was a time for a break from a serious long distance relationship this would be the time to do it.

If she’s the right choice eventually you’ll find your way back to her.

In the meantime, good luck in law school.

“Figured I’d do my best to keep the toilet etiquette questions going… so in response to the previous mailbag discussing shitting around strangers vs. coworkers, I first want to say that I wholeheartedly agree and have done my business in other areas of school, work, etc. in order to poop in peace. Well now I have come to the dilemma that is challenging the poop etiquette that I once so strongly believed in and I hope you can lay upon us more of you infinite wisdom.
So I work in a 15 story office building, of which my company operates on the top 4 floors; the remainder of the floors are occupied by other businesses. In order to access any of the floors you need a key card with specific access to that floor or business, with the exception of the floor that my team occupies. My floor requires a key card, but any tenant in the building can use their key card to access. Sort of a master key of sorts. It is set up this way because we operate on one half of the floor, and another business operates on the other half. The problem is this, my company has the finest bathroom facilities in the building. Three stalls per bathroom, and each one has walls that go from ceiling to floor with individual fans in each stall. It’s incredible. We have about 12 males on our floor so waiting for an open stall has rarely been an issue over the last few years. However, over the last year the building has been adding more tenants, and as a result its brought in poopers from all floors. So much so that on a daily basis I find myself having to go to other floors to poop because all the stalls are taken.
So what’s the move Clay? Do I respect the traveling poopers and learn to adapt and travel to other floors within my company when duty calls? Do we confront these nomadic poopers somehow to let them know their kind isn’t welcome on our floor? I hate to be a dick and prevent people from doing the same very thing I would do in their situation. That would make me quite the hypocrite, but let’s be honest, I don’t feel like walking all over the place to find an open stall when there’s a quality toilet 500′ from my desk. All the males on our floor are well aware of the situation and just don’t have the answers to the problem, so I’m hoping you do.”
I think what’s clearly happened here is the word has spread about your El Dorado like office poop facilities and everyone has made the decision to poop in your location because it’s the best option in the building.
And, as you say yourself, you can’t blame them.
We’re talking about a bathroom oasis here — the floor to ceiling insulated pooping experience is simply divine — and once you experience this revelation you can’t go back to your standard office pooping situation.
You refer to these poopers as nomadic poopers, but I think that’s an incorrect term. Nomads are constantly moving. They don’t find a place and decide to stay there. These people aren’t nomads; they are expressly seeking out your bathrooms because they have finer facilities than their own. This isn’t a random poop wondering in the defecation wilderness, this is unrestrained poop squatting.
There are no barriers to entry to your floor and so people with lesser poop facilities travel to have a better life experience by squatting in your territory. As you yourself said you don’t blame these poop squatters. In fact, you yourself would make the same trip if you were in their shoes.
But the only way to stop their travel to your fecund poop wonderland is by one of two things: 1. setting up a physical barrier of sorts. 2. mandating that poop squatting is not allowed and stopping the poop squatters.
The second choice is problematic because it makes everyone a poop squealer and forces all of you to focus on something other than your job. So I’d focus on number one (to stop number two.)
How?
I’d contact your HR person and suggest that keycards be issued so everyone can’t switch floors so easily. In essence, so the rule is the same for your floor as for the floors below.
The better decision here is probably to focus less on the bathroom and more on the foot traffic from non-employees on your office floor that is making things less productive on your floor. (Not to mention, honestly, if people who don’t work in your business are walking through your offices that just seems like a poor practice in general. You might even suggest that some of those wayward poopers are seeing work that shouldn’t be available for them to see).
The solution.
Ultimately, I think you need to build that (poop) wall by setting up keycard access to your floor only for the employees on that floor.
Good luck.
Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
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