Holy hell was I subjected to some interesting family politics over the summer break. At the time it was a bloody pain in the ass. Now, retrospectively it’s kind of entertaining. I’m talking about my inlaws. I love them all dearly, but I am more than very glad that I live 600km away.
The issue stems from the fact that my mother in law is a very hands-on grandmother. She is effectively a second mother to my nieces and nephews. She pays for their education (and their ponies) as well as acting as a babysitter on an incredibly regular basis. Due to the amount of time she spends with the kids, she feels like she has the right (and I’m not saying that she doesn’t) to make some of the parenting decisions. That’s where the difficulties come in. They already have parents.
The generation gap means that there are differences in opinions when it comes to raising kids. My 14 year old niece has a new bikini. My mother in law doesn’t believe that girls should wear bikinis in public due to the number of ‘perverts’ that hang out at pools and beaches. She doesn’t think it’s safe for kids to do paper rounds because those same perverts may be laying in wait at their front window. The weirdest bit about the whole bikini thing is that she was the one that bought it in the first place. Talk about mixed messages…
We have some clear differences of opinion. One relates to schooling. I don’t believe in single sex schooling (or private schools to a lesser degree). I think that while it is possible that some kids do better scholastically, they miss out on a whole lot of other lessons and tend to be more immature. If my mother in law had her way, we’d be living down country in their small town, sending our kids to the private church schools that the other kids go to. That just ain’t going to happen. I’ve made that clear. Unfortunately she likes to bring it up. Often.
But it’s not fair to lay all the blame at the feet of one person. As a result of the sorts of ‘issues’ described above, there is a lot of infighting. Because we are the only family members that don’t live in the town in question, as soon as we arrive there is a competition to try and get us to take sides. I spent the entire 4 days that we were there trying to diplomatically listen to everyone’s story without saying something that would be passed on and therefore have me ostrasised. The worst bit about it all is the fact that Shaun has to sit there and listen to people bitch about his mother. That’s just not fair. So I also have to run diversion on that front.
Anyway, all bitching aside, I love going down to the farm, but only for short trips.
It certainly makes me appreciate the fact that my family just don’t fight.