Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Complaining

I just need to get it out, okay?

Here are a few more things about that in-law visit...I'm posting a lot today because a) Piper is taking a nap; b) It's 84 degrees in the house and our electric bill was so high last month it has made me afraid to ever turn the air on again, so it's too hot to fold a dryer-load of hot clothes right now; and c) I am procrastinating dealing with the massive piles of paperwork, bills, and assorted junk that fill my dining table and most of the kitchen counter. So here you go:

- I did apologize to Ryan because it's my fault he got bitched at about the visit. I was an interminable BRAT while they were here. Seriously. There were times when I wanted to smack myself, but the little voice inside that kept yelling "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?" at me was of no help. I was sick with a sinus issue that I was praying wouldn't turn into some raging sinus infection (since I still have no health insurance, natch) so I was not at my best to start with. Add in that Piper sleeps like total crap when my MIL has been anywhere near her (and that is saying A LOT, because she's a pretty crappy sleeper to start with), so I was teetering on the brink of pass-out-on-the-floor exhaustion for several days...and you have a near-perfect recipe for disaster. Which is what happened. I just didn't have the reserves to sit politely by smiling and nodding for three days while they trampled all over their son's feelings, freaked out my kid, and spouted bullshit. Ryan called me on it a few times, and I did try to be nicer, but I also told him that unless he wanted to watch the baby and entertain his parents at the same time so I could take a six-to-ten-hour nap, I didn't think there was much I could do.

- While that is not an excuse for rudeness by any means, it is a large part of why I was so grouchy. While I was sick and exhausted, I had to drag my ass around, listening to my mother-in-law's stream of chatter and responding like this:

"I'm sure that report you saw on Dateline was very informative, but I don't think it applies to Ryan's situation."

"Uh, I think we have enough dresses for now, we don't really need that neon green one with the pink gingham flounce, ruffle-butt bloomers, and matching hairbows."

"Yes, I'm aware that education can make all the difference in a child's life, but the child has to show up for that education and want to be there. They have to want to learn."

"Well, thank you very much! We can certainly find a use for another stack of education magazines, brochures on involved parenting, and Xeroxed articles about child development."

"I do agree that a job with more money doesn't mean total fulfillment, but there is a big difference between being dissatisfied on $25k per year and being dissatisfied on $150k per year."

"Thank you for the offer, but I think she's at least 6-12 months away from having enough hair for hairbows."

- It's not that they're bad. It's just that she tries so hard. She kept picking Piper up and hugging her and fussing with her clothes and patting her arms and squeezing her feet and rubbing her head and pulling up her dress to say "do you want your belly? You want that belly? Do you want your belly belly belly?" Piper did NOT want her belly, and kept tugging her dress back down, then running away. A couple of times in the car - she and I sat in the back with the baby in her car seat, Ryan and his dad sat in front - I wanted to smack her hands and scream "For the love of GOD, woman, stop touching my child!"

- I felt a little bad for MIL sometimes, because she's had hip surgery that didn't go well, and she can't do a lot of physical things. She had to take Piper to the couch whenever she wanted to read a book, for example, because MIL can't get down on the floor. Friday she wanted to take Piper for a walk and I said she was welcome to, but that I usually only get four houses down before I get tired of herding her out of other people's yards and chasing her back from the street. MIL said she probably shouldn't then, because she can't move fast enough to keep the baby from darting into the road. MIL asked for the stroller, and I would've let her attempt it (and wished her good luck while betting that they wouldn't get far before Piper started screaming to be let out), but it was in the back of our car, which Ryan had driven to a work meeting that morning. MIL couldn't get down on the floor to catch Piper at the end of the slide on her tiny-size jungle gym. She couldn't crouch down to count beads on the bead maze and help Piper pull toys out of the toy-box; she couldn't lay on the floor and wrestle. In short, she couldn't do most of the stuff that Piper spends her day doing.

- Then again, she doesn't make the effort, either. She brought a book of poems for us to read to her (some sort of Shel-Silverstein-like stuff that made me want to puncture my ocular cavities with a rusty nail after just one page) and seemed a little put-out when Piper wouldn’t sit still on the couch with her and read through it. This was even after I warned her that she’d have to be careful if she brought the baby up on the couch because as far as Piper is concerned, “let’s sit on the couch” means “neat, I can jump around, climb on the cushions, topple over the back, dive off the front, bounce off the wall, and generally make a good effort at giving myself a serious head injury.” MIL has a very specific agenda when it comes to her grandma-time and has little use for anything that doesn't fit into what she wants out of it. I have expressed concern to Ryan that this will only worsen as Piper gets older - she will be old enough to actually say "Thanks, Granny, but I don't want to make construction-paper Easter baskets" or "Can we read Harry Potter instead?" and I'm afraid MIL will turn it into a big deal about how Piper doesn't like her or we're not raising her with enough respect blah blah blah.

- We tried to find nice, interesting places to take them to eat, which failed miserably. We took them to The Counter, which does "custom-built burgers." They give you a little sheet and you check off what kind of burger you want - chicken, turkey, beef, veggie (their home-made veggie patties are deeee-licious but fall apart easily) and what kind of toppings (tomato? sprouts? carmelized onions?), cheese, sauce, and bun you'd like. We love to eat there (their roasted-garlic aioli is so good I want to drink it through a straw) and since FIL loves hamburgers we thought it'd be a hit. He took one look at the menu and whined, "But I just want a normal hamburger." Which, coming from him, means McDonald's. He eats McDonald's all the time and it grosses me out. In fact, I got into a somewhat heated discussion with him after he slurped down a hand-dipped milkshake from Cook-Out and declared that it wasn't very good because it wasn't very big and "McDonald's are better because you get a lot." I should have shut my mouth, but instead said that while these were smaller, yes, it was a quality issue not quantity, since the shakes at Cook-Out are actually made with real milk, ice cream, chocolate syrup and fresh fruit, unlike the God-knows-what (I didn't say "chilled soft-serve lard" out loud) in the machine at McDonald's. "Yeah, but a lot is better. McDonald's is still better," he asserted (with his mouth full).

- I totally UNLOADED on them after suffering 90 minutes of their views on the current state of education and health care in this country. It's sort of amusing when these discussions come up, actually, because they are in their 60's and more bleeding-heart-liberal/save-the-world than we are in our 20's (er, well, my 30's, now, but you get the picture). His parents think that the country will very soon have a national healthcare system for everyone, because "somebody has to do something, it can't go on this way." Even though we want to believe that's true, Ryan and I know damned well that nobody - especially politicians - ever has to do anything about anything. They also think Ryan should stay in education because "somebody has to save those kids!"; I want him out of it as fast as possible because I am sick of being broke, never seeing my husband, and having him constantly stressed-out, all for the benefit of little shits who think tests are an opportunity to practice making pictures with the bubbles on their their Scantron sheets (not kidding or exaggerating, by the way). I've told his parents time and time again that I don't want them trying to talk shop with Ryan during get-togethers; God knows his mother does enough of that during their weekly phone calls, there's no reason to spoil family and relaxation time with it, too. So I was pretty pissed when they started in with it, and after more than an hour, I was ready to tell them that if they wanted "those poor children" saved so badly, they should go back to school and do it their damned selves. Instead, I treated them to my diatribe on why I want Ryan to find a different job, whatever that entails, and how I will be glad when he or I are making enough that he can quit because the school system is a sinking ship with too many problems and too many people who want ten-minute, sound-bite-friendly solutions that will never work. They just stared at me open-mouthed for a minute, then they started in about how "things have to get better soon, because they can't go on the way they are" and that's when I brought the hammer down and said there would be no more work-talk, because this is Ryan's vacation and we have enough pleasant things to occupy us all, thankyouverymuch.

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