We’ve all known someone who was incapable of keeping their promises, and whether it was unintentional or malicious, it still hurt when they failed.
But sometimes their shortcomings can have a serious impact on someone else’s life, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Piano_throwaway_ agreed to continue perfecting his piano skills when his father offered to, in exchange, buy him his first car.
But when he discovered what his father actually meant, the Original Poster (OP) regretted keeping up his end of the deal.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to forgive my dad for breaking our deal?”
Much of the OP’s life was dedicated to playing the piano.
“When I (17 Male) was 8, my parents bought me a piano and signed me up for lessons. I was super excited because I love music.”
“Over time I kind of became known as the ‘piano guy’ at school. I play at school concerts, accompany the school jazz choir, and play once a week for the residents at a couple of retirement homes in our town.”
When he wanted to explore other interests, his father made a deal.
“When I was 15, I started to talk about quitting lessons, and my parents quickly tried to guilt me out of it.”
“I told them I wanted to try other things, and that between piano and studying, I didn’t have much time left for other extracurriculars.”
“My Dad proposed a deal. If I kept playing and taking lessons until I reached level 10 RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music), and continued to keep my grades up at school, he would buy me a new car of my choice.”
“I jumped at it and we shook hands on the deal.”
The OP was sure everything would work out.
“I should explain that my family is well off financially. I have a very privileged life, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been spoiled. If I ever want a luxury item like a new phone or game console, I have to buy it myself with the money I’ve saved from summer and after-school jobs.”
“I should also explain that my Dad’s big on loopholes. When we compete, he always finds a way to win, and when I do it doesn’t count because of some loophole. It drives me nuts, but he thinks it’s hilarious. Whenever I complain about him not playing fair, his answer is always the same: life isn’t fair.”
The OP kept up his end of the deal.
“So, because of our deal, I kept up with my lessons. I spent about one to two hours a day on the piano while keeping my grades up.”
“Last summer, I took my level 9 RCM exams and passed, fulfilling my part of the deal.”
“I told my Dad I’d chosen the BMW X5 plug-in hybrid SUV.”
“I wanted something that would be fun to drive and also have cargo space and be good on gas since I’ll be going to uni next year.”
“I didn’t think it was ridiculous since my dad buys himself a new luxury car every 2-3 years. Also, My older sister got a brand new Lexus for graduation. There are kids at my school with rides worth twice as much as what I was asking for.”
But then the OP discovered what his dad actually meant by the deal.
“A couple of months ago, on my birthday, I came downstairs for breakfast, and my Dad told me there was a surprise waiting for me in the garage.”
“I ran out, and sitting in the middle of the floor was a 1/24-scale, toy BMW X5.”
“My Dad burst out laughing and said, ‘A deal’s a deal, so as promised here is your brand-new BMW!'”
“My heart absolutely broke. I asked if he was being serious.”
“He said I couldn’t seriously have expected him to buy a 17-year-old a real brand new BMW and that we could discuss getting me a reasonably priced used car.”
“I said we had a deal and I fulfilled my end of it.”
“He said he did too since I never said that the car had to be full-size and drivable.”
“I said he wasn’t being fair.”
“His response: life isn’t fair.”
The OP kept his distance from his dad.
“Ever since this happened, I’ve been distant from my Dad. I honestly feel like he betrayed my trust and that he deliberately made a fool out of me.”
“He keeps bringing up the idea of a used car, but I told him I’m not interested, which I admit is kind of petty.”
“I have enough money saved that I can buy a cheap used car myself.”
“I just feel like if I accept one from him now, it’s like saying that breaking his promise didn’t matter and that he didn’t do anything wrong.”
The OP’s relationship with the piano changed, too.
“As for quitting the piano, I committed to accompanying the school jazz choir (which is good for my college applications).”
“I also wouldn’t want to stop playing at the retirement homes because I’ve met some wonderful people there.”
“Plus, I genuinely enjoy playing. I am just thinking about quitting lessons and not taking any more RCM exams since they don’t have much to do with music at the end of the day.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some urged the OP to never engage with his father in this way ever again.
“Eventually he’ll need something from the OP, and he just gleefully obliterated any trust he had and likely really tanked any empathy he has for him.”
“Honestly, I know it’s the go-to answer on here, but this seems like an NC (no-contact) kind of situation.”
“And quite frankly that seems healthier than the OP continuing to subject themselves to this man.”
“OP said they have enough for their own used car. They should buy one, with their own money. Just don’t engage, do what you can for yourself, and don’t give your dad a way to just brush it off.”
“Buy your own car. If he gets you one, sell it, and give the money back. Don’t engage, don’t make any other deals with him, and if he tries to make one with you, tell him you’re not doing it anymore because he’s proved that you cannot trust him.”
“If he gets mad at you for holding onto it, tell him life isn’t fair. Sorry your dad thinks being funny and getting the upper hand is more important than his son’s trust, but if anything, at least you can learn from his example and be a better parent if you choose to have children in the future.”
“There’s no winning with your dad, so I’d just bow out. He can’t screw you over if you don’t give him the chance, and it sounds like he’s had way too many chances already.”
“NTA. You’re not required to forgive someone who’s done you wrong. He did you wrong, he’s proven you cannot trust him. Don’t waste any more of your time entertaining his games.”
“He’s not worth the effort.” – acegirl1985
“The fact that his dad says, ‘You can’t have expected me to buy a 17-year-old a new BMW.'”
“Like, of course, he did! The dad knows OP did because he practiced piano one to two hours a day, every day.”
“To manipulate a teenager like that, who spent over a thousand hours of his life these past few years in the hopes of getting a car, as OP worked for this for years.”
“His dad is positively sociopathic if he can see his son’s hard work wasted and laugh in his face at engineering a heartbreak.” – sukinsyn
“People like that always have to have an upper hand, even when it’s not a competition and seriousness is there.”
“OP is NTA, but the dad is a weaponized AH.”
“Shame, he probably just nuked any future relationship with his kid, bet that piano skills will be in demand later.” – adrifing
“NTA… Someday when he wants to come home for holidays, send a framed photo he can set on the table. There. You are home. You didn’t tell him you’d be there in person. Life’s not fair, Dad.” – Slight-Bar-534
“NTA. I would sit your father down, and tell him that you’re very disappointed in him and that his actions will mean you’re not going to be able to trust his promises in the future.”
“As Prince used to say, the future is a very long time, and eventually, he’s going to regret it even if he continues to make fun of you for something you were upset about when you were young.”
“You might think of some examples where he might want you to do something in exchange for a promise. It’s unfortunate that you have to be the adult, and that your relationship with him won’t have the level of trust it once had.” – fromdecatur
Others were appalled by the time the OP had lost to explore other interests.
“While sometimes going NC (no contact) is beneficial, sometimes benefitting financially is beneficial.”
“I think what bugs me the most about all this is that OP lost that time to pursue other interests. That seems so selfish on the parent’s part.”
“So I suggest letting dad buy a car and then using that car and saved money to do other activities. See what else is out there for you!” – Unimaginativename9
“Dad bribed him to keep doing the activity Dad wanted him to do, preventing OP from exploring other interests, then he completely tricked him.”
“Whether the car is too expensive or not isn’t the issue. Dad was emotionally and mentally manipulative, and it cost OP the time he had left in high school to pursue other things.” – SurferRosa85
“It’s not just about a BMW. OP says they can afford a used car on their own, so it’s more of the principle and long-term effects of what’s happened.”
“Because of this deal, OP lost out on years (ages 15-17) of opportunities and instead devoted that effort and time towards a skill he was no longer really passionate about. That’s a big loss. During key developmental years, too.”
“With that, and with all of the ‘deals’ in the past, how is OP supposed to trust their father moving forward? Seems like dad always has a way to explain how/ why he’s right. Even if OP ‘wins’ or fulfills every part of a deal.”
“If that were my dad, I would take this as a sign to not trust this person or go to this person for motivation; they’re not interested in what I want and what’s good for me.”
“They’re not interested in being fair and demonstrating honesty to me. They’re only interested in what’s brag-worthy and self-serving for them, as a parent.” – hollyofcwcville
“It’s not about the car. At all. If his dad was an adult about it and went ‘listen, we don’t have the money for that right now, could we look into cheaper alternatives or save up for it?’ Then OP probably wouldn’t be upset.”
“The biggest issue with this is that OP’s father robbed him of years of his life he could have been doing something else. That’s really important in life. Allowing kids to expand and explore their options, and have new experiences.”
“Not only did he change the terms of the deal like an a-hole but he also decided to rob his child of valuable life experiences in a time that’s fundamental to development.” – I_Like_Trains785
“OP, I’m so sorry you have a parent who treats you like you don’t matter, and your emotions aren’t real or valid.”
“Your dad wants to have power and control over you. He didn’t just promise you a car for your birthday and then not give it, he used your desire for that car to control you into doing something you didn’t want to do, for years!”
“Your father will probably never acknowledge the pain he causes by belittling and controlling you.”
“Try to disengage, I don’t think you have many other options that will be useful in the long run with a parent like this.” – Classroom_Visual
“Either never play the piano again, or, every time your parents braggingly mention to friends, neighbors, teachers, or coworkers about how good OP is at the piano, he tells the story of the broken promise and how much his dad laughed at him for being upset.”
“Every. Single. Time.” – OneOfManyAnts
While some were balking at the idea of asking for an 80K car for their first car, the majority of the subReddit pointed out that this had nothing to do with the car at all, but rather broken trust.
By committing to continue playing the piano, the teen was unable to pursue his other interests, and all for what? A small model car.