Monday, September 26, 2011

MIL Is Just Like My Kindergarteners

Self-portraits drawn by my kindergarteners. It looks just like them too!

I realized something today when I came home from work. That my kindergarteners and my MIL have something big in common. They don't listen. Yes, they share the same bothersome habit, but my students are much more likeable (and are better groomed) than she is. And now since one of our words of the day last week was 'listen,' my students are showing signs of improving when it comes to listening to what I say. Not MIL though.

I smiled politely and said my obligatory "ni hao" to her, then squealed with joy and yelled, "Hi Raelynn" to my daughter, as I bounded into the bedroom. I was in the process of putting my purse down and removing my large, shiny dangling earrings since Raelynn has developed a fondness for yanking on them, when I noticed a small parade of flies (though they COULD have been mosquitoes actually) circling over the bed. I call out to MIL and ask her in my choppy Chinese what in the hell is going on with the bugs. Of course, I don't understand anything in her reply except my husband's name, so you can see asking her is futile at best.

As I arm myself with the can of bug spray from under the kitchen sink, I try to stifle my urge to spray her with it. For one, she's holding Raelynn so I definitely can't spray anywhere near her but for another, she's my husband's mother and I have to try with all my might to be nice. Plus, we need her to watch the baby while I work. But I so want to give MIL a healthy wallop of that stuff right in her troll face because bugs love her. She was personally responsible for the plague of flies that overran our home and that wasn't even the only incident. Since she never listens, it is little wonder why we had a sudden surge in fly population inside our home. She leaves things out that attract bugs despite being told to put them away. Now that we have that giant refrigerator, there is no excuse to leave food out yet in the kitchen, there was a box of grapes just sitting there tempting fate. Since I found no other bugs, I can only assume I killed her entourage of flies that follow her to and fro. I think they followed her into our bedroom to get more diapers for the baby and she somehow gave them the slip.

Much in the same way, my kindergarteners also summon the flies when they neglect to listen to me (or the Korean and Chinese teachers for that matter) and throw food waste into a paper bin. You can guarantee the next day, we will have ants, flies and a variety of other insects congregating in and around said waste bin. The only differences are that the school is much larger than my house and that I don't have to clean up the messes the kids make.

After dousing the crap out of this latest crop of MIL's flies, I grab Raelynn from her so I can get to the part of my day that I love the best - spending time with my baby. Nothing is more wonderful than having those precious moments with her myself. Raelynn and I snuggle, I feed her and then I read her a story. Once my baby is back in my arms, MIL creeps into the evening air heading back to the troll bridge she crawled out from under, otherwise known as the countryside. Now that she's gone, Raelynn and I go into her bedroom (which she will soon be moving into now that she's big enough) and choose a book to read together. And that is when I notice the bib.

See, my wonderful friends and relatives (thank you guys!) sent so many lovely things for Raelynn. So many clothes, books, toys and other useful items. Among those, bibs. Lots and LOTS of bibs! Please don't think I'm complaining. Well, I AM complaining but not about the massive amount of bibs I now own. My complaint is with MIL who keeps hand-washing them with this weird soap under the kitchen sink that isn't even for laundry. First of all, we have so many bibs, it is insane for her to wash them after Raelynn wears one. Secondly, the soap she uses smells funny and doesn't remove the scent of breast milk. So it still smells dirty. I asked Lane to please tell her not to worry about washing the bibs. It's not like she is going to run out of clean bibs to use when I am at work. I also hate that she puts a soaking wet bib on the drying rack with clothes I am about to gather up, fold and put away. She inevitably places the wet bib on something else and thus, that something else gets wet again.

Lane told me the other day that he'd spoken with his mother about this and he'd told her to please put the bibs into the laundry basket. But again, just like my young students, she didn't listen. As I am asking Raelynn which book we should read today (incidentally, she chose A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss), a dripping-wet bib catches my eye. After I throw it into the laundry basket, I throw the offending soap into the garbage. I've done this so many times, yet she'll bring a new bar of stinky-fresh-pee-pee-smelling soap with her on her next visit. You can bet your life on that.

My kindergarteners cannot follow directions very well either. I have given them worksheets on it just to test the waters. Clare was my only student who got it right. Jake and Ron at least tried and in the middle, seemingly got bored and drew unicorns. The rest of them didn't even try. It showed me that listening was something these kids really needed to work on and fast. That was 2 weeks ago. Now I've got only 2 of them, Brian and Joanne, who have trouble listening. Or they selectively listen. I could tell them they just lost their right to playtime for the day but all Joanne hears is "playtime" and she gets excited until one of her classmates repeats what I said. Maybe that's what happened here. Maybe Lane said (in Chinese of course), "Please don't wash the bibs. Don't do that. Put it in the laundry basket and Jennifer will wash it when she gets home today," and then she heard: "Please don't wash the bibs. Don't do that. Put it in the laundry basket and Jennifer will wash it when she gets home today."

I know she means well and wants to help but the only thing I have asked her to do is take good care of the baby and not kill her or do anything stupid while I'm not home and to pick up after herself. As long as she at least listens to that, I will be grateful, even if I am severely irked by everything else she does.


  1. Maybe MiL needs a word of the week exercise?

  2. It's word of the day actually, and yes, she totally does! Ugh!