Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quiet House/MIL Rant #2

Wow. It's quiet.

The kids are at mom-in-law's house. She finally got rid of her houseguest, so we let them spend the weekend there.

I guess that needs some explaining.

As you are aware from my previous posts, MIL's ideas often don't jive with JeepMan's and my ideas. Last October, she dropped a bomb: she was bringing her nephew to live with her. Her nephew, JeepMan's cousin (I'll call him LT), fit any conventional description of a "troubled" person.

LT grew up in the southwest. His father (JeepMan's uncle) is a drug dealer, currently doing jail time. LT grew up in chaotic circumstances. His mother died of heart failure, waiting for a transplant, when LT was only 13. LT's father had sporadic employment and was evicted from more than one home. They sometimes lived in hotel rooms. LT had no guidance or supervision, did poorly in school, and never had an example of a responsible person to model himself after. MIL decided he needed "a better life." Generous, right? So what's the problem?

The problem is that LT was 20 1/2 years old when MIL decided to "give him a better life."

MIL said she was bringing him here to the midwest, letting him live with her for a month, then kicking him out of her house if he hadn't found a way to make it on his own. This scenario was fraught with potential pitfalls, as JeepMan and I saw it. LT didn't have any life-skills. He didsn't have any idea of what a responsible adult was expected to do. He was so under-educated, he couldn't even get a driver's license because he couldn't pass the exam! How was this young man supposed to come to a new state with no savings or driver's license, get a job, save some money, find a place to live, and become independent within 4-6 weeks?

Well he arrived last November. About that time, we told MIL that the kids would not be allowed to come to her house and spend the weekend while LT was living in the house. Formerly, the kids would go there once a month or every other month to spend a weekend. This was great - the kids enjoyed it very much and we liked having some couple time for ourselves, too. However, we don't know LT. We have never known him. He was an absolute stranger that JeepMan just happened to be related to. He was a 20-year-old kid with a sketchy past and no guidance. We simply couldn't have our kids staying in the same house with a young man we didn't know or trust.

When MIL found out our position, she blew up. She yelled and screamed and accused my husband of being suspicious, passing judgement, and being a jerk. She made threats of legal action to force us to let the kids come for weekends. JeepMan and I were stunned and angry at her actions, but we stood our ground. Our children have had no unsupervised visits with MIL since October. We simply cannot trust strangers around our children, especially young adult male strangers with unknown morals.

MIL has calmed down since then, but we have seen her underbelly, and are certain that we would never want our children to go to her in the event of our untimely deaths (God forbid). I would like to believe that her impassioned (but certainly misguided) response to our decision was motivated by her devotion to the kids. There has never been an apology, or even an acknowledgement of the fact that we were simply being responsible and protective parents.
In fact, neither she nor us have spoken of it since it happened; it sits there between us like the proverbial gorilla in the room.

LT has moved out - 6 months later. MIL found out after just a month or two that having LT living with her wasn't going to be the experience she had romanticized in her own mind. LT didn't want her controlling him and she is, to her core, a control freak. She felt that since he was living in HER house he needed to follow HER rules and do what SHE wanted him to do. It didn't take long before he was staying out "too late," drinking "too much," and doing "too many" things she didn't know about or condone. I think in the end he was pretty desperate to get away! He now has a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant, and a coworker/girlfriend who hasn't yet tired of chauffeuring him around. After a few months of blowing his paychecks on Playstation games and fancy cellphones-and-cellphone-accessories, he and his girlfriend scraped together enough money to get an apartment together. He has been told that he cannot return to MIL's place.

I hope the best for him. He seems like a nice enough guy, though I still wouldn't trust him with my kids.

So this weekend is the first that the kids have been away for 6 months. A small part of me feels a little queasy about this. The kids will definitely be interrogated (subtly) about the weekend when they get home; this is no different than before, though. The time to ourselves is really nice every once in a while, and I think kids should spend time with their grandparents sans parents. We have stayed nearby both sets of grandparents specifically to facilitate this kind of relationship between the generations.

JeepMan and I had a nice meal together last evening, then walked around our local ped-mall, enjoying the perfect cool evening and listening to a free outdoor jazz concert. We stayed up late, then slept in this morning. For lunch, we had panini sandwiches on the patio at a little Italian deli. We went shopping, and I bought some new plants; he bought some new bolts. I puttered in my flower beds while he puttered in the garage. He is still in the garage and I am blogging. Soon I am going to take a nice hot shower (uninterrupted by peeking children wondering if they can get in with me!), then we will head out for a good dinner and maybe even a movie that isn't animated...

Life is good.

But... I can't wait see Plato and Lulu tomorrow. I'll grab them and kiss their chubby little cheeks, hug them close and press my face into each of their hair - inhale their indiuidual scents: shampoo, sweat, sunscreen, and that special Plato or Lulu musk that goes up my nose and straight to my core, exhilirating the primal mother within me.

Yeah, that'll be great too.

1 comment:

Monnik said...

Wow. I'm shocked that your MIL blew up like that, but you made the right decision. You just can't be too careful about who your kids spend time with.

I think your MIL was very generous to offer to help out LT like she did, but wow... that situation just spells trouble.

I need to get my kids away for an evening so I can enjoy some alone time with the hubby. It's been several months since we've done that...