Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Whining and Dining with the Inlaws

This was just a kinda weird weekend.

Sunday I took my famous white chocolate peppermint fudge out to Chez Inlaw. We arrived at about lunchtime and MIL informed us of their "plans" - by "plans" I mean plans that are really more ideas than plans, and it is clearly communicated to us that we have the ability to veto these plans for whatever reason, but R and I both know that if we say no to these plans, there's probably not a backup "plan" in place, which means we'll sit around awkwardly, indefinitely. Oh, and somehow, the Aldis managed to weasel out of making an appearance, so unfortunately I didn't have them there to entertain me.

These were the "plans":

An Open House at a home still under construction. Complimentary Wine and Cheese.

An Artist's Studio Sale. An artist who specializes in Pottery.

And an Art Opening. With More Wine and Cheese.

No, you didn't skip over the "fun for the kids" part. There WAS no fun for the kids part. If anything, the kids were totally miserable because they have to behave in a manner that is completely unreasonable to expect little kid to behave. But this is how they've always operated, according to R. FIL decides what he wants to do. And everybody else is along for the ride, like it or not. And ya better act like ya like it.

What's that you say, eight-year-old R? You want to be on a baseball team this summer? Sorry, Dad wants to go sailing. Nobody ever got to do anything that conflicted with anything FIL wanted to do. Especially R, the youngest of three.

Now, all of the aforementioned "planned" events are things I actually would have enjoyed if R and I were Sans Apes, but obviously we weren't, and they knew this, so I was kinda surprised that this is what they thought would sufficiently entertain two preschool-age boys. Beeb was cool, Beeb could handle it, but HELLO! Breakable stuff!

It was just not an enjoyable experience.

FIL kept talking about how much he liked everything, and how wuuuuhnderful everything was. He told us about the social significance of everyone he'd talked to (he is the KING of namedropping), and he stayed and talked to these people while R and I tag-teamed it trying to keep the boys from destroying this million-dollar home. I rubbed my eyes a lot so I could look Visably Frazzled, hoping it would somehow register in his mind that wrangling preschoolers at a Social Event Obviously Not Intended For Children is not how I'd like to spend a Sunday Afternoon, but he was too focused on the shmoozing to notice the kids running about like, well, Apes.

So finally MIL got the message and we left. FIL kept asking if we saw the various features of the house, or if we tried this wine with that cheese, and I wearily said, well, no, I guess we musta missed that... we were kinda busy with the kids... to which he replied, "Well, they had grapes at the table, didn't you see they had grapes? Don't your kids like grapes?"

Grapes! My God, yes! Grapes are the answer!

I should have said that grapes give the kids really bad diarrhea, and then casually mentioned that they'd been eating grapes by the handful for about the last half hour, while he was busy working the room.

Oh, next was The Artist's Studio Sale. Whose genius idea was it to take the kids to this? One guess. R took the boys to an area where they could run around outside, but even that got boring for them after a while. I went with Beeb and MIL and FIL to see the Artist's Workshop. FIL insisted that Beeb and I meet The Artist. That's a really big deal to him.

So he introduced us to The Artist, and I, wanting to appear something other than bored and frustrated out of my mind, asked the artist a question. I asked her, "So, when you begin, do you have a vision of what it's going to look like at the end (at this point in the sentence, she looked at me strangely, so I continued talking) or do you just, kinda, start working and see where the piece wants to go?" I was trying to sound like an artist, or at least like someone who geniunely wants to know the answer to the question. The Artist stared at me like I was speaking some bizarre dialect she'd never heard before, then she sighed,

"Well. I cover all that in my Artist's Statement, over there..." (pointing to a small, typed page in a frame on the wall)

Oh. Sorry.

And then, when FIL had had enough asskissing bullshit (or, more likely, when the people there weren't paying enough attention to him anymore), it was time to go. On the way home he talked about how nice and down-to-earth The Artist and her Husband are, so much so that you'd never even know how much money they have. He talked the whole way home -

"And The Artist is so kind to speak to people and answer their questions." (Um, FIL, didn't you notice how smugly the bitch answered my question? Guess not.) "Wow, I really enjoyed that. Didn't you all enjoy that? Wasn't that great?"

Kill me. Kill me now.

We now had an hour to kill before the Art Opening at the Clubhouse began. This was the event that was The One He Was Most Excited About. This one was actually pretty cool. The artwork was made with handmade pressed paper - really unique and quite beautiful - but hard to fully appreciate when chasing the boys, trying to make sure they're not even thinking about touching something. By this time, we'd been visiting with The Inlaws for four hours and I had had more than enough.

MIL and FIL got some wine and cheese and sat down with some of their friends. My kids are NOT going to sit down at a table with a bunch of strangers and behave themselves. They're just not, and I think it's a little ridiculous to expect that of them. So R and I grabbed some fruit and cheese and some bottled water for The Apes and took them outside, where they could be, y'know, KIDS.

FIL came out and invited us in to meet Another Artist. This artist was actually supercool. Her name was Victoria and she was energetic, fun, and especially sweet to Beeb when Beeb asked questions.

Then Tito came in and flopped down in the middle of the floor. I tried to quietly take his hand and get him to stand up, and he let out either a whiney shriek or a shrieking whine, I'm not sure.

All right, I said. TIME TO GO.

"Oh, no, he's all right..."

Said the man who had not paid thirty seconds' worth of attention to these children all day to the woman who had thoroughly exhausted herself while trying to ensure that these children don't ruin FIL's day with Unacceptable Behavior.

I felt like he was upset with me for scolding Tito, but what if I'd left him in the middle of the floor and not said anything? That would have been wrong too, right? I never know whether scolding the kids or not scolding them is the better idea. It's the most frustrating thing about FIL - the only thing about him that you can predict with 100% accuracy is that anything you do, in any given situation, will be The Wrong Thing To Do. Any choice you make is wrong. And with his Divinely-Bestowed Rosetta Stone of Hindsight, he has no qualms about telling you what you should have done instead.

I don't think he was happy about us leaving so abruptly, but I didn't care. I was tired, R was tired, the kids were tired and BORED. As I said, it wasn't so much that I didn't care for the events, and I wasn't angry or anything, I just could not believe the complete lack of consideration FIL had given to the fact that I would have to be responsible for the behavior of two small children at all of these grown-up events - events that I, in my everyday life, intentionally avoid taking the kids to. It was all just totally surreal to me.

Weren't these people ever parents??


SiressYorkie said...

I'm surprised FIL can breathe at all, what with his head so firmly planted up his own arse.

Max is really well-behaved, but he'd be pulling MY hair out after an hour of that nonsense. Good groud. There's four hours of your life you'll never get back. Bloody (*@&$.

Ducktastic said...

Ugh. All my awful Parents of the SO stories seem so... not awful anymore. I'm amazed you kept your cool that long, and definite props to you for Parenting Under Pressure.

Are they the type of people where you could make plans in advance? I don't know how much your SO wants to spend time with them, but maybe you could do something along the lines of "Gee, it looks like there's nothing for the kids, and we can't get a sitter, so I guess we'll just have to miss out."

I'm sorry your FIL is such a jerk. :(

Oh, and the Artist Statement? Hysterical. If she doesn't want to answer questions, why the hell does she even show up to an event? I totally want my own "statement" now to carry around and snottily direct people towards. ;)

turtlegirl76 said...

Wow. Is he one of those people that assumes children are really just little adults? Amazing.

OldLadyPenPal said...


did you at least bring butter?

on a happier note, you won a prize!
yes! you won a prize from my Book Title Guessing game! you really did, i'm not lying.

my email address is on my blog if'n you want to send me your mailing info.

Bob said...

I'm reminded when I was 4 or 5 and my Ma & Grandma had weekly hair appointments. WEEKLY! What's a siblingless little boy to do when he's surrounded by women under heating vents gabbing their husbands? I just remember being rewarded with a big plate of psghetti at Bob's Big Boy each week. Yum!

So next time FIL want's to go out for grown up activities tell 'im it's gonna cost him a big plate of spaghetti for each of the kids.

Bezzie said...

You need an Aunt Emily!!!! It sounds like the Aldi's already have one!

cpurl17 said...

I'd love to comment, but I have to go work on my Knitter's Statement....

Zonda said...

Wow, what a unfun day for you and the family!! Why would he even want you to go??? That's what I don't get? To show you all the "peeps" he knows?? Sorry you all had a very boring afternoon..I think they forgot the parent part though...

Poops said...

I have two topics I would like to see covered in this blog.

#1: Penny Karma's Two Sticks of Butter or More, So As To Hasten Her Father-In-Law's Demise, Recipes
(especially that fudge one. and the toffee one. please.)

#2: Penny Karma's Reasons For Visiting With Her In-Laws As Frequently As She Does, Considering Her Less-Than-Smooth (unlike her fudge) Relationship With Them, Other Than Their Supply of Endless Amusing Fodder For Her Blog. (for which I will be eternally grateful.)

#3: Penny Karma's Artist Statement

Feel free to attack these in any order you like. Just start with the fudge, mmmmkay?

xoxo Poops

Stacie said...

My actual mom is sooo like that. She can't seem to wrap her mind around "little boys". .I love the inlaw stories!!!!