Thursday, 23 June 2016

My Father in Law

My FIL told me recently that I am not a very good daughter.  I agreed with him wholeheartedly, I mean sheesh my father could have told him that year’s ago and I’m pretty sure my mum used to tell me the same thing every single day.

Okay, so it wasn't just about the cash  -- he'd fallen madly in love with Benjamin about five seconds after he laid eyes on him. He more than made up for my mother-in-law, who openly admits she doesn't really connect with kids until they hit 2. Plus, he'd had a lot of free time since retiring a few years ago, and he genuinely wanted to make life easier for us.

I thought the offer was very sweet, but the idea of having my husband's family involved in my life four days a week (I have Fridays off) was freaky. Not to mention that Eli refuses to get the hearing aid he needs and thinks car seats are a marketing scam. After five years of listening to him comment on the way I do everything, from throwing together a salad ("That's not how you cut a tomato!") to blowing my nose ("Don't squeeze so hard!"), I had a feeling there'd be many arguments about nap schedules in my future. My husband understood my reservations and left the decision up to me. I knew, though, that he liked the idea of saving money and making his dad happy. Besides, Eli had babysat a few times without any glitches, and he's a great cook. After a few lengthy, long-distance phone consultations with my mom, I agreed to try it out.

I also do not feed him enough although when I do feed him he declares to all and sundry that my food is not good.  I also do not make Turkish quality cay and I do not bathe him.  I’m just going to make a very public statement here – I will never, ever bathe him!  Never ever!  I bathe myself.  That is it.  I did pull his pants up the other day when he was shuffling down the street and they fell down around his knees – but that is where I draw the line.

My FIL is a stubborn old man.  He is nice enough but only as long as he gets what he wants.  God forbid if shit doesn’t go his way then everyone suffers.  I suspect that The Turk will morph into him when he gets older which worries me a lot.  I don’t want to have to bathe The Turk either.

He barely glanced at the four-page guide I'd spent the better part of the weekend typing up (burp cloths in the bottom dresser drawer, easy on the "Baby Mozart," etc.). Suddenly, hundreds of dollars a week seemed like a fair price for someone who would at least pretend to listen to me.

I spent the first weeks agonizing over whether I'd done the right thing. On one hand, I never had to wonder if the stranger I'd hired morphed into an abusive monster when I left. And Eli was surprisingly meticulous about keeping track of Benjamin's naps and feedings, he hardly turned on the TV, and he went on tons of long walks.

But repeatedly screaming "Did the baby like the cereal?" into the phone until he finally understood what I was saying was frustrating. And since he was staying over on Tuesdays and Wednesdays  -- his commute can take up to an hour each way  -- I felt like our home was being invaded. The worst, though, was the constant criticism. How could I use chemical-laden wipes, he'd ask? Did I want Benjamin to get a diaper rash? I was starting to think it was just too much to handle.

Why does a lot of his ranting fall on me you wonder?  Well I am the only one at home.  Everyone else works.  Which shits him too.  Why do the women have to work?  Don’t get me started on that!  Last weekend I went to a picnic in Limonlu and God forbid I did not get home until after 7.30pm.  My FIL informed The Turk that he cannot control me.  The Turk’s reply?  “I wouldn’t even try!”

When I think of my own excellent father I could never imagine him raising his voice or calling me (or The Turk) names but then I guess that this is the way that my FIL has always lived his life.  If one is never told that the behaviour is unwarranted or unacceptable in today’s society then one will never change their ways I guess.

I could take it personally.  I could raise my voice or blow my stack at The Turk but I wonder if I would be wasting my energy.  I have realised that I honestly don’t really care what he thinks of me.  I cannot change him but as long as I am true to myself then all is well.  I continue to be respectful.  I was taught that as a child – respect your elders.  I ignore his blabbing and his sulking.  I ignore the fact that my food sucks balls and my cay is weak and tasteless.  Between you and me I totally understand now why my MIL was constantly screaming at him.  I used to think it was cute.  I used to think that she was a feisty old lady and when he would laugh at her it was like how I imagine a couple married for 50+ years would act.  Now I realise that she actually wanted to kill him.  All the time.

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