At Grandma's house

My MIL, loving, generous, woman that she is, volunteered, yes, VOLUNTEERED to take my child for a few days while I went galavanting about with my side of the family. I was touched by her generosity, and it took me about 45 nanoseconds to accept her offer. She originally understood that the trip was only 2 days, and paled a little when I told her it was actually 3 and a half, but, like the trooper that she is, she perservered and survived. Now, it's been literally years since I have left my son overnight with a grandparent, and I was a little worried about the whole thing. I mean, I guess I knew that everybody would be fine, but I wondered if everybody would still LIKE each other at the end. I worried about the tantrums, the not eating, and my son's penchant for violence towards bad guys that sometimes extends behind smacking inanimate objects--you know, the usual stuff. The little demon, apparantly, was perfect. Did he ever cry? MIL:" Well, once when he saw you weren't there, and once when he didn't want to go to the park, but I just told him that we either go to the park without crying or stay home and cry. That's what I said, and he dried right up. You just have to give him choices, and he's fine." Choices. Right. You think I've never tried that? Whenever I say something like that to him, he flings himself on the floor and wails like he's being tortured, and twitches his body likes he's trying to imitate sausage frying in the frying pan. It's not pretty. Did he eat? FIL:"He ate great while he was here. We don't believe in letting kids snack, so he got hungry and filled up on all the good food that we gave him. He just gobbled everything up, every night." No snacks. Hmmm....Clearly, Jacob did not turn on his whine, which is so annoying, so piercing, it feels like you have a bell tolling against your eardrums, and you will do anything to MAKE IT STOP, including tossing anything edible into the back seat just to keep his mouth occupied, as gagging him with a rag and duct tape surely falls into the category of child abuse. And apparantly there was no violence, no pain, no injuries of ANY KIND. Truly, I wondered if it was my son they were describing. This is the kid who has pulled off the skin of both his toes, because he was running really fast chasing imaginary bad guys, and crashed into our cement steps at home. Cement vs. kid is never really a winning combination, unless, of course, you're the cement and you like having a toddler's blood smeared on you, but really, let's just not go there. So, I'm back, my in-laws have gratefully relinquished the parental duties, and Mommy is in charge again. I'll have you know that in the 6 hours I've been in charge of my son, he's whined at least once, threw himself on the floor twice, has injured his cousin, and refused to eat anything but lettuce and 3 bites of chicken at dinner. ("He loves corn on the cob" is apparantly true only when Grandma is in charge. When mom's around, he feeds it to Grandma's dog.) I'm trying really hard not to think his bait and switch behavior is a reflection of my mothering skills. But after hearing what a great job he did at my in-laws, I might have to think about another vacation, say, to Hawaii, or the Bahamas, with just me and DH. We wouldn't be gone too long-- just maybe, you know, until Jacob can vote.


Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Don't do do it! Don't let yourself think it's you. Seriously, kids are always better behaved for other people, especially Grand-parents. Those well-intioned comments make me crazy and I'm always tempted to start in on "You think I haven't tried that about one hundred bazillion times????", but given they are usually said by people who have offered loving, free, fabulous child-care for more than 24 hours -- I keep my mouth shut and smile and thank them for all they did. Like you, I'm always just grateful they all still like each other.

I've also come to realize it's not meant as criticism of me as much as it's just plain delight that they managed so well.

8/12/2005 01:10:00 PM  
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8/12/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger jules said...

Once when my mil was babysitting, I told her not to give my son grapes and various other fruits (he has chronic diarrhea). It would be a disaster waiting to happen. He loves fruit and she did not believe me about the disaster. She loaded him up on all kinds of good stuff. And made sure to tell me that he loves grapes and apples and it is a pity that I don't serve him better foods more often (I just follow the doctor's diet). Anyway he had been a perfect angel for her. Not and one messy diaper. the second he was in my care he pooped. And this continued throughout the night and into the next day. Ahhh, I wanted to kill my MIL who is actually a very kind and generous person. I know this comment is only slightly related, but MIL are alike everywhere, even if they are the best people on this earth, they always think they know best at some point.

8/12/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Claire said...

It's true... they are usually wonderful for other people, especially the older they get. This phenemenon is spelled out interestingly in a book I read called "The Secret of Parenting."

8/12/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

We lived with my in-laws for a year (although they were only home during the week, and gone on weekends), so they know exactly what my kids are really like. My most difficult one also happens to be a lot like his grandma, too, so that made things interesting.

8/12/2005 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

This story reminds me of our recent trip to Disneyland. We were prepared for tantrums, fights and the other general bad behavior we host in our home all the time. It just didn't happen. They were too busy and happy to be there to do that attention-seeking nonsense.

But life can't be like a visit to Grandma's or Disneyland all the time. Kids get bored, unhappy, and all that .... and of course mommy is the one who bears the brunt of it. It's too bad but it's normal!

If Jacob lived with Grandma all the time he'd soon learn that he'd experience all that garbage there, too. And then Grandma would get a reality check.

8/12/2005 03:58:00 PM  
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8/12/2005 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Cat Furniture said...

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8/12/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

It's easy to be calm and make kids behave when you don't have to live with them 24/7. I know my dil doesn't believe me when I tell her the baby sleeps all night. But the baby doesn't know that Grandma used to get up with her kids at night. She thinks I mean business (and actually, having learned the hard way, I do), so she goes to sleep.

Heather, you missed me. You were right down the street. Call me next time, I gave Nate my number. We'll do lunch. You'll see that I'm sort of senile grayhaired grandma, not the smart aleck I seem here.

8/13/2005 10:22:00 AM  
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10/08/2005 12:24:00 PM  

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