Monday, August 07, 2006
The Apprentice Becomes the Master
When we were in Rochester last month, my mother-in-law, in between tantrums and nasty looks, said, "Maybe later this summer, Emily could spend a couple of days with me. If you could drive her out here, I could drive her all the way home, save you a second trip." I am certain this happened. I was there. And I haven't had auditory hallucinations since ... well, ever, actually.

Then, last week, I gave in and called her to make actual plans for this hypothetical trip. Now, "plans" is a bad word to my mother-in-law. On par with "homosexual" and "Hillary Clinton." Her very favorite phrase is, "We'll play it by ear," and now that I have come to recognize my own need to have some vague idea of what we want to have happen when we travel or have holidays, I realize that she has stumbled upon a true gold mine as far as driving me crazy is concerned. I swear, she says, "We'll play it by ear," and I HEAR, "Go ram a knitting needle in your ear."

I've learned not to hold sharp objects while on the phone with her.

Anyway. I called her, and she said, "Yes, I still want Emily to come out. But I'm having all of these legal issues and so I really need to be home every day to check the mail. I just don't feel comfortable being away from home right now." Which is just stupid. First of all, she's not having legal issues like Martha Stewart or Ted Bundy had legal issues - she is pursuing a divorce and it is endless and long and annoying and decidedly NOT A NEW SITUATION. She's just shocked right now that my father-in-law had the audacity to hire himself a lawyer and is therefore preventing himself from being absolutely eviscerated in the process. Weird, huh? Wouldn't you assume that asking for a divorce after 30 years would result in cooperation, sunshine and cheer? And second of all, last I heard they weren't delivering mail on Sundays. She could leave on a Friday, hold Saturday's mail, and return on Sunday and still *gasp* not miss anything. And third of all - SHE is the one who suggested this. *I* would not randomly decide to subject my daughter to my mother-in-law without me.

I spent the week sort of waffling and wondering, do I insist on her keeping her original bargain, or do I let her mess with plans once again, or do I hand the whole slimy pile over to Willem and let HIM sort it out?

I went with option C.

So, I got to listen to Willem's half of a phone conversation with his mother today. Which was primarily characterized by statements such as, "But you said the other day that..." and "Let me go over this again." Apparently now she is insisting that (a) she never said that she would come all the way out here to bring Emily home, and (b) she never said she had to stay home because she needed to get the mail, she just doesn't like all that driving.

[insert random muttering here]

But - by the end of the conversation, Willem got to whip out a lovely zinger on her, all the more effective because it is borrowed directly from her own Arsenal of Passive-Aggressive Comments: "Well, if you're too busy to have her, then Emily can just wait and try to come visit you next year. She'll have a week with Kate's mom, that'll be fine."

BAM! BOOM! ZAP! KER-POW! Guilt *and* competition with the other Grandma, in one fell swoop!

The man learned from the best.

Emily will be going to my mother-in-law's in two weeks, and my mother-in-law will be driving her all the way home.

Funny how victory doesn't taste so sweet when it involves sending my firstborn to the Den of Annoyance for a week.