This one's a doozie, y'all.
How long have you been reading my blog? This one's definitely going to reward the longtime beholders of brilliance for their loyalty, but I'll try to give enough backstory for the noobs too.
Every year, we go out to my Inlaws to watch the fireworks (to get a sense of my relationship with my FIL, please refer to the Archival Highlights in the sidebar), and usually the fireworks begin before the actual Fireworks, if ya know what I'm sayin'.
Let's look back over the last few July 4th celebrations, shall we?
Last year I was so stressed, I took a Xannie before we made our traditional pilgrimage to Chez Inlaw and I kinda passed out. Then FIL tried to tell R that in twelve years, not once have I ever offered to help clean up after a meal (which, of course, is TOTAL bullshit), and I got on my hands and knees and picked crumbs off the kitchen floor.
Memorable line from my July 7, 2008 post: "You do NOT want to get into a Who Can Be A Bigger Passive-Aggressive Asshole war with me. Have we ever talked about how competitive I am? Not sure if we have..."
The year before was the year that the Aldis left Aldigirl out there while they went to a wedding. She intentionally kicked over a chair with her cousin in it, and we all learned, to our amazement, that she actually DOES behave worse when her parents aren't around. They actually DO have some miniscule amount of influence on her, when they choose to invoke it.
Memorable line from my July 8th, 2007 post: "Do NOT screw with a chick sportin' two pairs of panties and an eyeball ulcer. Especially when it's 100 degrees outside. DO NOT."
And prior to this year, 2006 was the year that would be impossible to top in terms of sheer noteworthiness. That was the year Tito got lost in the dark when we all got up to leave after the fireworks, which scared the CRAP out of me and everyone else.
Memorable line from my July 5th, 2006 post: "I was also offered the opportunity to purchase the DVD of Aldigirl's recent dance recital performance for a mere $39.99. I was on the verge of blurting out that I would rather suck $39.99 worth of manure through a straw than watch that, but fortunately I was cut off by the sound of Aldigirl running shrieking through the house. I secretly love it when she acts like an ass. It makes my kids look like angels by comparison."
Yeah, so the last three years have really, REALLY sucked. And that's just the 4th of July visits. I'm not even talking about the Easter visit when he ripped R and me each a new one when we ordered Mimosas with our Easter Brunch or any of the other times we've gone out there maxed out on stress and come home trembling and sick to our stomachs. Longtime readers know that there are way too many of those experiences for me to count.
Yesterday was far and away the best time I've EVER had at Chez Inlaw. In almost thirteen years.
It was even better than the free beer parties on Memorial Day that I actually look forward to because I can drink as much beer as I want and conveniently escape the obligation of hanging out with MIL and FIL by voluntarily waiting in line for 45 minutes with the kids to get their faces painted.
Ready? Here we go.
Over the years, we've learned how to pace ourselves through the morning on the days when our afternoon plans include a trip to see FIL. Wake up early, do something fun and/or relaxing for as long as possible, and very gradually ease into the day. R and I got up and watched back episodes of Rescue Me while Beebie baked a cake.
We were ready to go and were actually on the road when Beeb announced that she'd offered to watch her friend Elle's hamster Dexter while Elle and her family were vacationing on some island that starts with an M. I told Beeb that was fine, and asked when would we need to pick Dexter up. Beeb said she figured we would just go pick him up on our way home, after the fireworks, since Elle would be leaving at 7:00 the next morning.
Sidenote: We're currently planning Beeb's birthday party which is slated to begin at 9:30am and Elle threw the world's biggest bitchfit about the early start time - that's actually what I was planning to write about today on the off chance that the 4th was uneventful, so I'll have to write about her spoiled little ass next time.
Beeb had forgotten that we probably wouldn't leave Chez Inlaw until 11:30 and that it was an hour drive home. So we made a slight detour, dropped Dexter off at home and hit the road with no idea what was in store for us when we got there, but, as always, mentally preparing ourselves for the worst.
As I mentioned, Beeb baked a cake to take out there. She was so proud of herself. And yet she knew that FIL would most likely find something wrong with it and point it out to her. I really do try to defend FIL when I can because I don't want to influence their feelings for FIL - and because he doesn't really need any assistance from me in shaping my children's opinions of him - so I explained to Beeb that that's FIL's [totally fucked-up] way of showing he loves you.
He tells you every single miniscule thing you're doing wrong so that you can be sure to not make the same mistakes again next time, and thereby inch ever closer to perfection, which is the only standard that matters to him. For example, I baked four dozen flawless Snickerdoodles to take out there on Father's Day, and even though he (and everyone) said they were excellent, he still found a way to criticize me. I hadn't made enough of them.
Mrs. Aldi, in contrast, NEVER bakes anything to take out there, other than steamed vegetables or fruit salad that my children never eat, or perhaps those slice-and-bake cookies with holiday designs in the middle. Nothing that requires effort or time. Most of the time they bring store-bought cookies. I make white chocolate peppermint fudge. I make toffee. I make pies. Of course, I'm secretly administering a lethal dose of cholesterol over an extended period of time and she's undermining my efforts, but that's not really the point.
This time, she submitted her own home-baked cookies. And FIL fuckin mocked her. "OH, LOOK, EVERYONE! MRS. ALDI ACTUALLY BAKED SOMETHING!! WOW! I'M STUNNED!!!" I whispered in R's ear we hadn't even been there an hour and already my day had officially been made.
I've endured his ridicule so many times, I was delighted to see it directed at someone other than me. And really, if that was the only good thing that happened the whole day, it still would have been a great day. But the day just kept getting better and better.
The Aldis brought their idiot dog Chantal. And let me just say that even Beeb noticed that The Reverend puts WAY more effort into disciplining that dog than he does into disciplining his idiot children. And he doesn't put much effort into disciplining the dog.
I personally witnessed Aldiboy eating at least five of his mother's cookies before dinner, plucking them cheekily off the dish right in front of her, while she said nothing.
I know it's a horrible thing to say about a four-year-old, but I really can't stand that kid. I realize that it's not his fault that his parents refuse to tell him No, but that kid's a budding asshole just waiting to fully blossom into full-on colorful doucheitude. If the Aldis would nip it in the proverbial bud, they might be ok, but no, it's waaaaaay more important to protect his fragile little self-esteem and to let him be who he is.
I got news for ya, Aldis. Who your kid IS, is an asshole. And it's YOUR fault. And pretty soon people are going to start telling Aldiboy to his face that he's an asshole, and what's his self-esteem gonna be like then? Huh??
I'll be honest. I know my kids aren't perfect. My kids have had their bad days out at Chez Inlaw. Tito was a holy terror for a while. I've done my time as Mother of the Kid Who's Annoying Everyone. More than once I've spent an entire visit following Tito around making sure he's not doing anything that would set FIL off. And that's why it fills my heart with absolute fuckin glee to see a lazyass parent getting exactly what they deserve - AN IDIOT KID.
Aldiboy was horrible. He's clearly learned that nobody pays any attention to him until he does something he knows he shouldn't do. And the people that do pay attention to him when he's hanging on a glass table, jumping on the floor vents, pulling the dog's tail, running through the house, and generally being a little shit are NOT HIS PARENTS. The most his parents will do, only after someone else calls their attention to their child's behavior, is ASK said child if he WANTS a timeout. What the fuck do they think he's going to say?
Next on the highlight reel is my personal favorite part of the day. I was sitting with Beeb playing Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (and yes, I am) at the table facing into the living room, and suddenly I looked up and saw a huge steaming pile of freshly-dumped poop on the immaculately white carpet.
I discreetly called R over.
What? he mouthed.
Shit. I mouthed back.
(It's really hard to mouth the word Shit. Try it.)
It was kinda like the tattoo scene in Dude, Where's My Car.
Literally, shit. Look. Right there. SHIT.
Oh, shit. SHIT.
We decided to bite our tongues and wait to see if Reverend Aldi or FIL would be the first to spot it. Seconds later, The Reverend saw it, and FIL saw him seeing it. When The Reverend asked MIL for something to clean it up, I had to get up and get myself to the potty before I pissed myself laughing.
Here's the bathroom where I giggled.
Not only does FIL fully deserve a huge pile of poo in the middle of his house, The Reverend deserves to have to fuckin man up and DO something about it. And to me it wasn't even poo - it was like a big steaming pile of sweet-smelling Karma wrapped up in a big beautiful bow.
But the show wasn't over yet, kids.
At dinner the Reverend asked Aldiboy if he was going to eat his vegetables. Aldiboy said No. And that was that.
Oh, by the way, while the Aldikids were running around being assholes, my boys were sitting quietly and my Beebie offered to help clear the table. Beeb's cake was a smash hit, and FIL had not one snide thing to say about it.
After dinner Aldiboy (and I'm seriously considering changing his name to Aldibrat or Alditard or something similar) was STILL running through the house like a wild animal, and when FIL said something in his typical snarky manner like "Wow, Aldiboy is REEEEALLY wound up, isn't he??" Mrs. Aldi's response was priceless -
"Oh, well, he did have about ten cookies, so that's probably why he's more lively than usual."
Oh, ok. Since he DID have ten cookies... THAT explains it. It does not, however, explain how the child GOT ten cookies in the first place. If you were paying close enough attention to COUNT the number of cookies the child ate, then why didn't you STOP him after, say, six or seven?
He had five before dinner. Oh, and what did he eat for his dinner? Potato chips. And when The Rev said "No more chips, Aldiboy", what did the child do? He stole potato chips off of Tito's plate when Tito wasn't looking. I saw it.
Mrs. Aldi was standing closer than arm's length from the plate of cookies. She could easily have gently smacked him on the hand (as I would have done, had one of MY children been snarfing down cookies before dinner), or even just whispered "I think that's enough, Sweetheart", as I'm sure she's anti-spank, when he reached for one. I don't want to spark a debate or anything if you're anti-spank, whatever works for you is cool with me - as long as it actually WORKS and your kid's not a total dick.
She had no fewer than TEN opportunities to do something, and she did nothing - THEN she blamed his behavior on what was really her laziness. Unbelievable.
After dinner we had about two hours to kill before we walked over to wait for the fireworks to start (which, traditionally, is about two hours before the fireworks are scheduled to start). And it was raining, so playing outside was not a possibility.
I brought my kids' favorite game - Apples to Apples. There's a link to it in the Amazon section of the sidebar. ;)
If you've never played it (and if you haven't, you should), basically there's an adjective card on the table and everyone gets dealt cards with various nouns on them, and then one player is the judge who decides which of the other players submitted the noun card that best represents the adjective.
Can you tell I was an English teacher?
Anyway, Beeb, Pie, Tito, Aldigirl and I decided to play, and Mrs. Aldi said she loved that game and wanted to play too. Guess she needed a break from all that Non-parenting.
At one point the adjective card on the table was Wild. One of the kids submitted a card with the noun Dirty Diapers on it. Aldigirl started this hideous forced laugh that sounded like a donkey being chased by a swarm of angry bees.
Mrs. Aldi told her to be quiet, but it was too late. Aldiboy wanted to know what Aldigirl thought was so funny, so she told him, "Dirty Diapers!! WUHUHHHHUUUUHH", and started the laugh again, this time with Aldiboy adding his own uniquely hideous sound.
The game continued until FIL announced that Chantal had taken a leak on the floor in the kitchen. "Did ya hear that, Mrs. Aldi? So, if you're keeping track, your little angel has gone both a number one AND a number two on my floor."
And her response? "Oh, I guess she's not welcome in your house anymore..."
FIL clarified he wasn't saying that, he was merely pointing out the fact that her angelic little dog isn't such an angel after all.
And her response? "Well, I guess I could take her home then..." which the Rev quite rightly pointed out didn't make much sense, because she'd drive an hour home and then an hour back to pick everyone else home. And fuck if I was going to offer to take them home in the Odyssexy.
Ha, nice try, sister. You get to sit here and suffer with the rest of us. Tough shit.
We kept playing the game and Mrs. Aldi ignored her son hanging on the glass kitchen table until R very gently and with undue sensitivity said something to her about it. Meanwhile, we wished we could ignore Aldiboy toddling about and repeating the words "What about DIRRRRRRRRTY DIIIIIIIAPERS." in the most annoying singsong voice you can possibly imagine. He probably said it two hundred times within twenty minutes.
The Inlaws' kitchen table is in front of a lovely bay window that overlooks the lake. They're the kind of windows that open with a crank. And guess who started playing with them?
Mrs. Aldi asked R if it was ok for him to play with the windows. R said, "I don't think so." At that point she offered a half-assed, barely audible "Aldiboy, sweetheart, maybe you shouldn't be doing that."
Of course he kept right on doing it, opening and closing them again and again, until suddenly FIL's booming voice shouted, "WHO'S PLAYING WITH MY WINDOW??!!?"
As if he didn't know. He just wanted the Aldis to KNOW he knew. It was so beautifully indirect and passive-aggressively non-confrontational while still getting his point across. I have to give the man mad props - he is the king of the mindfuck.
Mrs. Aldi claimed that she had just told him to stop, and that he was in the process of closing the window. This was an outright LIE. She actually lied in order to cover up her child's behavior. Behavior which could easily have been prevented, if she'd just ACT LIKE A FUCKING PARENT for once. R and I were gobsmacked.
Later on, we were getting ready to walk over to the spot we'd staked out for the best view of the fireworks. The sky was dark and threatening, but the fireworks are held rain or shine, so R and I went out to see if we had an umbrella in the van.
Aldiboy was running around outside. Alone. Completely unsupervised. I don't know if anyone even knew he was out there. And no, we didn't bring him inside. That's not my job. If it was one of my friends' kids (Sheri, you know I'd take care of your kids like they were my own), I'd have done something about it, but I was secretly kinda hoping something would happen that might force the Aldis to wake the fuck up and pay attention.
Anyway, as I mentioned, we always sit there on the hillside for about two full hours before the fireworks actually start, which I've never really understood.
Let's take a child who's been cooped up inside all day and put him outside and tell him to sit still when nothing's going to happen for two hours. Genius.
It was alarming and deeply disturbing to see this child going anywhere and doing anything he wanted. The child genuinely believes that the world and everything in it belongs to him - existing solely for the purpose of his entertainment.
He was running around, throwing rocks, asking What About Dirty Diapers, whining that he was hungry, and I'm sorry, but I'm not about to intervene unless what he's doing threatens the safety of MY kids. If your kid falls in the lake because you're not watching him, then fuck you, that's YOUR problem.
A group of kids in front of us caught my eye when they suddenly turned around and started scanning the crowd. I quickly figured out that they were looking for the parent of the child that came right down front and sat in the little kid-sized chair next to them.
Yeah, he walked his little self down and sat down wherever the fuck he wanted to. And his parents didn't say a single word, until I asked out loud where Aldiboy was, hoping to prompt the grownups to take a look at what a child with no sense of boundaries looks like.
Ok, see the knee all the way over to the right of that picture? That's The Reverend's knee. Because he didn't go down there and remind the child that We Don't Take Things That Don't Belong To Us. Didn't remind him of why It's Important To Stay Together So We Can Be Safe.
No. He kneeled down next to Aldiboy and waited for Aldiboy to decide that he was DONE sitting there. The Reverend SAT there and let the kid dictate to him when he was damn good and ready to give back the chair that he didn't have permission to be in.
UN. BE. LEEEEEEVABLE.
Keep in mind that this the same person we had all seen scolding the dog "Chantal, NO! NO, CHANTAL!! NO!" and yanking the choke chain ALL FUCKING DAY.
I love it when I feel like the best parent in the world.
And then, about 15 minutes before the fireworks were supposed to start, the skies opened up and unloaded buckets upon buckets of rain, along with thunder and lightning, which freaked Tito out really bad, so I took him home in the rain, and we watched the fireworks from the house.
And the absolute BEST part of the whole day? Because so many people had left when the rain started, we didn't have to wait for the traffic to clear out so we got to leave about an hour earlier than we usually do on Fireworks Night. So the day was awesome literally from beginning to end.
I've spent so much of my time at FIL's house feeling like a completely pathetic failure as a mother, wife and human being. The way I see it, I EARNED THIS DAY. It's MY turn to enjoy the fruits of my labor - children who know how to behave. My kids were awesome and I was so, so proud.
Yes, it's difficult, inconvenient, unpleasant, stressful, exhausting, and a major pain in the ass to teach our kids how not to be idiots. But that's part of the job of being a parent. It's very hard work and it sucks sometimes, yes, but there's a reward on the other side that's totally, TOTALLY worth it.
My kids ROCK. And I don't mind taking just a little bit of the credit.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
This one's a doozie, y'all.