the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grandparents

i guess the first thing i need to say today is that, when it comes to max, i am kind of a crazy control freak. i don't know if that's normal, and i don't care. i should also say that chad and i grew up in very different ways. his grandmother lived with them when he was little, and pretty much his whole family lived 5 minutes (or less) away. so maybe it was normal for his grandparents to treat him like their own child instead of their grandchild.

when i was little, my grandparents were about an hour away, which is close enough to see them often and have a fairly close relationship with them but not so close that they were around every single day. most of the time, we went to visit them instead of the other way around, and i can remember asking to go with them when they went into town for something while we were visiting. and my mom usually let me. but i don't remember my grandparents randomly coming over and asking my mom if they could take me and my brother somewhere without her. they just weren't like that. they did volunteer to babysit when mom needed it, though.

my in-laws have a bad habit of treating max like he is their child instead of their grandchild. everything with them is too much, which makes me crazy. and then i feel guilty for getting annoyed with them and wishing they would back off. if they lived closer to us, they would be here every day. chad warned me when we got married that his mom was going to be exactly like ray's mother on 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' and to a certain extent, she is. but i think she tries really hard not to be, which is probably why i feel guilty that she drives me crazy.

all of this was brought on by an unexpected visit from the in-laws on saturday. they called while i was in the shower that morning to say, "surprise, we're coming to mobile today, and we want to take max to the flea market with us." it really threw me for a loop. for several reasons.
  1. it was completely out of the blue.
  2. chad just took max to their house last saturday while i was at the graduate student symposium at the DISL. i guess they feel differently, but they don't need to see him every single weekend. we have other things to do.
  3. the following day was easter. so they were going to see him then. i understand that they like max and that they want to spend time with him. but they don't seem to understand that they are not his only relatives and that other people want to spend time with him, too.
  4. i am just not comfortable sending my toddler off anywhere without at least one of his parents. i am ok with leaving him at a friend or relative's house for a while, though. i don't care if that's rational or not.
  5. in my head, i already had a plan for the day, and apparently i don't deal well with unexpected changes to my schedule. especially annoying ones. i think if they'd given us at least a day's notice, i would have handled things better.
  6. i did not let max go with them, so they came over to our house for a while before they went to the flea market. hoping i would change my mind and let them take him. they kept making little comments about it the whole time they were here.
i can't seem to make myself not get annoyed at something every time we're around the in-laws. and it's always just little things that piss me off, so i guess that's my problem. but i can only deal with so many little things.

things they've done recently that totally hit me the wrong way:
  • constantly distracting max while he is eating. talking to him very animatedly and waving toys in front of him while he's having lunch doesn't make getting him fed easy.
  • little off-hand comments that don't really matter now but might when max gets older and really understands what they're saying. things to the effect of, "if you don't like what mommy does, you can come stay with us. call us anytime and we'll come get you." that is never going to happen.
  • they bought him a life jacket. because they assume that they will be taking my very small child fishing. on a boat. without his parents. maybe when he's older. as in, school age. not anytime soon.
  • grabbing max and taking him outside without a word. they have done this at our house and theirs. they did it yesterday. they just decided to take him outside to hunt easter eggs in their yard without waiting for chad and me. i was in the process of looking for max's sunglasses, and chad was fixing something on their computer. at their request.
  • letting their enormous dog (a bull mastiff) run around with max. they usually grab the dog and put him on a leash when we pull up so he won't jump on us. but it's fine if he's loose when max is running around outside? i don't think so. most of the time, he's pretty calm, but he has his moments, and the fear of the dog bowling max over and accidentaly hurting him is not irrational.
  • acting like they have to buy everything for max. they go completely overboard. all the time. not just holidays and birthdays. they sent 3 outfits home with max last weekend. they had just given him a whole box of clothes (in the same size) at his birthday. and they have no idea what they have already bought for max. they have bought multiples of the same outfit in the same size on more than one occassion. at a certain point, the amount of stuff they buy becomes incredibly wasteful. they have bought 6 pairs of shorts and 10 shirts for max in the same size over the last two months. we already buy clothes for max. and toys. gifts are fine, but it's always just too much. they never ask what max already has or what he needs. they just buy mass quantities of stuff. the couple of times i have told them something that he needs, they either don't get it or get it later when we don't need it anymore (i.e., when i said we needed 12 month size pajamas and they waited three months to buy them, when max was starting to outgrow them). they just buy whatever they want, wasting money and whatever they bought. i've returned what i can, and i'm sending other things to the goodwill.
  • stocking their house with the little veggie bowls and stuff that i sometimes get for max. they don't seem to understand that he's not going to be there often enough to justify special purchases unless they're planning on using them too. plus, max usually eats what we eat. and i always take back-up toddler food anyway.
chad says that sometimes his parents feel a little awkward hanging out with max at our house, and i can sort of understand that. but at the same time, i don't think that they should feel free to do whatever they please with him. maybe i'm weird, and other people think that grandparents have the right to do whatever they want to with their grandkids. but to tell the absolute truth, i don't want them to feel like they can come over anytime they want to and take max. and that is not the same as saying that i don't want them to see max. i want max to know his relatives and love them. but they should not have the same responsibilities and privileges with him that his parents do. there should be boundaries.

3 comments:

Vanessa Mae said...

I totally understand where you're coming from. Growing up, my dad's parents lived in Prichard, & we'd come to visit them every so often for a day. But we were never left alone with them.

The in-laws have to understand that Max is their GRANDchild, not their child. And he really isn't theirs to spoil, especially if you're trying to raise him to be not spoiled. I'm wondering if Dear Abby would advise you to be truthful and & firm with them, but it sounds to me like you already tell them & they refuse to listen. It might have to come from Chad, how much has he said in this matter? How much has he intervened to ask them to tone it down? Yes, they are his parents but you and Max are his family now and you guys come first.

I would be pretty pissed if my mother-in-law made those comments to my child. SO inappropriate!

Holly said...

OMG! Everything in that post goes ditto for me! Ugh.

latina marie said...

we have talked to the grandparents about their excessive purchases, what we want their role to be in max's life, etc. more than once. the sad thing is, i think that their current behavior is their idea of backing off. their friends who have grandkids practically raise them, and for some reason i think that's what they expected with us. but i have told them from the start that that is not what i want.

when we first got married and chad's mom was pushing us to have a baby (her 'i want grandkids before i die' argument. she is still only in her 40's now), she actually said, "just have one, and i'll raise it." OMG. NO. but that is really what she wants.

i was raised to believe that when you take on responsibilities, they are YOUR responsibilities, and you don't just pass them off to someone else. having a baby is serious business, and i would never have one and not expect to be primarily responsible for it.

i do feel like they try to respect my wishes in certain areas (they do at least try to stick to max's schedule when they watch him), but they are still going totally overboard with so many things. i am at my wit's end.