Friday, May 09, 2008

If "out" is the opposite of "in" then what's the opposite of "outlaw?"

God bless my inlaws.

No, really.

They aren't, y'know, evil. They aren't slighting my kids, fawning over their cousins. They are kind and affectionate to the boys.

They are, however, only on nodding acquaintance with reality. They are also Scared Of The World. The list of things they have officially qualified as "terrifyingly dangerous" would keep me blogging all weekend, but they include such dangers as:
1- Restaurant salad (lettuce leaves are never cut small enough; one could choke)
2- Low light sconces (you could bang your head on them and brain yourself)
3- Beef that's cooked less that Really Well Done (an entire subset of their worry is devoted to "microbes.")
4- Children riding in cars that are not armored bank trucks ("Do you know how many children a day die as a result of...?")
5- Extra-virgin olive oil causes sore throats.

and so forth.

Now, these not being my parents, I'm not in the ideal position to tell them to bugger off the same way I deal with my parents. (Whose faults, though many, so obviously lie elsewhere.)

At any rate.

Last Saturday we had to go to a reception and as a consequence, we had to go all dressed up. NOS had selected a pair of cordovan penny loafers to pair with his outfit. The problem is that those shoes were a full size larger than NOS takes. But he didn't want to wear the black ones that did fit, as these "don't go" with the khaki trousers. So, he stuffed the larger shoes with bathroom tissue. Which my FiL saw and was adamant he not do, since wearing larger shoes would cause him (NOS) grave spinal maladies, I believe. NOS, however, was adamant that he would wear whatsoever he bloody well saw fit and, having chafed under my FiL's strictures practically since birth, seems to have given voice to over 10 years' worth of frustration. I believe NOS expressed himself with some vigor on the issue as my FiL was wrestling with the footwear and, while I doubt NOS actually called him a "deranged old coot" I'm sure the sentiment was there.

It ended up with my FiL storming out of the house (whether this was due to "never having been so insulted!" or simply frustrated beyond endurance with the recalcitrance of NOS or what...I have no idea) and leaving my MiL "stranded" here, so that we had to schlep her to the reception and then back.

TFBIM was adamant to "have words with NOS." I cautioned her that while his behavior is not what one expects from a 10 year old towards his elders, his was not without some provocation. After all, my FiL is a deranged old coot and that has to count for something in mounting a defense.

At this point, the influenza epidemic of 1918 was just starting to take its effect on me and, frankly, I had begun to rapidly lose interest in such melodrama. Taking the bull by the horns, I decided to preemptively address NOS. Something along the lines of:

"Yes, I know your grandfather can be 'that way' and that he can be pushy. Yes, I know he has some mighty strange notions of how the world works. But he is your grandfather and you have to show him some respect."

As it turned out, against everyone's opinion, I specifically allowed NOS to wear the shoes stuffed with paper. Guess what? By the 1st half-hour he was yelping in discomfort and by the 1st hour he was swearing loudly (ahem) that he'd never wear such things again.

Which drives us to the main differences in childrearing between TFBIM's and my side of the family. TFBIM's lot believes in sheltering and protecting and mine ardently believes in "lessons learned the hard way." Whereas my FiL was adamant that "Licking an electric socket is dangerous." my parents were of the view "Yep. He won't do that twice."

Which explains all the little nicks and cuts and scars I have from my youth and the neuroses that TFBIM and my BiL have carried with them through the years.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 8:13 AM

5 Comments

  • Blogger HEATHER posted at 4:58 PM, May 09, 2008  
    Your inlaws sound as crazy as mine!
  • Blogger Frogdancer posted at 6:22 PM, May 09, 2008  
    I'm one for lessons learned the hard way. My kids get one... maybe two... warnings, and then they're on their own. No broken bones yet...

    (My 11 year old is cooking pancakes. I can hear him. How fantastic is THAT? As long as he doesn't set himself alight. Do you think I should caution him about gas flames?)
  • Blogger Stomper Girl posted at 12:17 AM, May 10, 2008  
    My inlaws are a little that way inclined also but yurs are much funnier.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 4:13 PM, May 10, 2008  
    If they weren't my inlaws they'd be hilarious.

    Whenever TFBIM is working those heavy hours of tax season, easily half of her stress is related to all the stuff I allow the kids to do under the banner of "He won't try THAT again."

    She jokes -- and not entirely wrong in doing so -- that I'd let the boys juggle knives if they wanted to.

    -J.

    P.S. I'd never let them juggle the good knives.
  • Blogger Caro posted at 1:14 AM, May 11, 2008  
    Well it's obvious he's your son if the shoes gotta match the pants. :-)
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