They left this morning, so I feel free to gripe about them now. On the bright side, the last two days or so weren’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. They were both good about doing things our way while they were here. I think they realized quickly that we weren’t doing anything stupid, just maybe different from the way they did things with their boys. Frankly, that sounds like a good thing to me.
Let’s start with the worst story from their visit. More than once I heard MIL make a Freudian slip. When talking to PJ, she would slip and call herself Mommy and have to catch herself and change it to Grandma. I don’t think she knows I heard, and I’m not about to tell her. I’m also not about to tell her it bothers me. M’s dad made the same sort of slip on the phone with him a week or so ago. Clearly, my in-laws at least on some level consider themselves PJ’s real parents, and we’re just substitutes in the meantime. I’d suspected this was the case already, but the repeated Freudian slips have convinced me I was right.
I also noticed what it is about my MIL’s regular behavior when she’s around us that annoys me so much. It’s not as much that she’s obsessive about PJ; I’ve learned to cope with that. She’s just so immature. She insists on being the center of attention, and she will go to extremes to make sure she is. The other day she hit M, and not a play hit, to make a point. She tried to get PJ’s attention before she did so too. It was entirely inappropriate, and I was glad that M called her on it. She also feels the need to chastise M if he doesn’t obey her immediately. I really wanted to remind her that he is now almost 26 years old with a kid (and a half) of his own. Even as his mom, the time for being able to tell him what to do has long passed.
Another great story from ages ago hits me on this topic. The second night I was in the hospital after PJ was born, M called me to let me know he was in the ER downstairs with his parents. His mom was having stroke-like symptoms. Eventually, the doctors decided it was an accidental bad reaction to some medications she had taken earlier. M suspects it was more of a not-so-accidental overdose. We both recognize her need for attention, and she clearly hadn’t gotten enough in the last few days. PJ and I had been the center of attention, and for good reason. She had to go to extremes to make sure everything was about her again. Seriously, it’s like dealing with a selfish child sometimes.
While I’m ranting, here’s one more story only kind of related to my in-laws. Yesterday when they stopped for lunch with PJ, a lady in line with them was raving about PJ. “How old is he? About nine months?”
“Um, no. He’ll be eighteen months in a few weeks,” my MIL answered.
“Oh. I’m usually pretty good at guessing. Does he have any disabilities?”
For once, I completely agree with my MIL’s reaction. I don’t know that I could have answered her as gracefully as my MIL did. How in any sense is that question considered appropriate? For the record, other than his prematurity, he has absolutely no problems. He’s tiny, partly as a result of his prematurity, partly because both M and I are tiny, and partly because he’s inherited my insane metabolism. (Seriously, the kid ate a whole BK kid’s meal yesterday for lunch. The whole thing. And he still doesn’t quite weigh twenty pounds.) He’s a little behind developmentally, but not because of any real issues. He just doesn’t care to try new things like walking. I’m sure if we were able to have him around more other little kids more of the time, he’d be more motivated, but his slow development is a result of motivation, not disabilities. Why should some anonymous person in Burger King need to know all of this? Is natural human curiosity severe enough that she should care?
I’m glad my MIL simply answered, “No, he’s perfect,” and moved on.