Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Parent Experience

My parents made the 11 hour drive from Indiana to North Carolina to visit us. Originally, just my mom was going to fly down, but then we talked my dad into coming as well and they drove. You see, if he didn't come and visit now, the kids wouldn't see him until maybe Summer or Christmas of 2008. The last time they were here was this past Christmas in 2006 and last summer we made the drive up there for a week.

Anyway, my dad is a real character. I just don't understand how a 59 year old man can be such a child. If he doesn't get his way or we don't do what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, he acts like a jerk. If he was a kid, he would probably just be considered a spoiled brat! It drives me so insane that I am constantly trying to keep him entertained, on top of my kids!

As long as I can remember, my parents have fought. I remember once when I was in high school my dad telling me that once both my sister and I were out of high school, they would be getting divorced. Would it have been easier that way? Probably. As it is now, I love my dad, but cannot stand to be around him for very long.

Originally, my parents were supposed to stay through Saturday because the kids school is closed this entire week. This way, we wouldn't have to pay for a babysitter or take time off work (since I don't have much vacation time left due to Disney and my surgery this year). Before they even came, my dad's dad was in the hospital for congestive heart failure. My dad called and said they would be leaving earlier than Saturday so that they could drive up to Windsor and visit him. My suggestion was that they go there first, but he refused to do that, stating that Canada's July 1 is a holiday and there would be too much traffic in the tunnel going over. So, he said they would leave on Thursday morning.

Now, while they were here, all my dad did was lay on the couch and either watch tv or sleep, and by sleep I mean snore so loud you could hear him throughout the entire house. But, he doesn't snore, according to him, my mom does, whatever. Occasionally, he would go sit on the back deck. Meanwhile, my mom is playing with and entertaining the kids (just while we were at work Mon and Tues). Over the weekend, I tried to plan activities that we could all do together, that I remember my dad enjoying when we were younger. Of course that backfired. We wanted to take them to the pool on Sunday and he almost didn't go. When I reminded him we were leaving for the pool in half an hour, he asked what time we were coming back. I felt like I had to beg him to go. In fact, he only got in one time and played with DQ for all of five minutes while we were there. Monday, he and my mom did take the kids to play miniature golf. Of course, during this time, he was not a happy camper. The rest of Monday, he spent on the couch while my mom played with the kids. Tuesday, my mom took the kids to the library and then came home to pack a picnic lunch. They ended up going to the park and eating, my dad went with them, and then they couldn't understand BD's directions and got a little lost looking for the pool. When my mom called me from her cell to ask directions, I could hear my dad in the car screaming at her. This is what I grew up with and not what I want my kids exposed to.

In any case, after that incident, my dad decides that they are going to leave on Wednesday morning instead. That upset PM. He didn't cry, but he wasn't happy about them leaving early. So, on Tuesday night, BD and I were supposed to go out to dinner for an early birthday dinner for me. We almost didn't go because I wanted to spend time with my mom before they left Wednesday morning, but she pushed us to go. When she is here, she always pushes us to get out together without the kids because she knows we hate to pay a babsitter and rarely do. So, on Wednesday morning, I kept waking up every hour or so expecting to hear them getting ready to leave. BD left for a jog at about 6:30am because he said he had to get away from the family drama. Come to find out, my dad had gotten up and ready and my mom flat out refused. She told him to go on without her (we had already offered to pay for her plane ticket home if she wanted to stay longer). He refused to go without her and being the child he is, started walking. (I think she hid her car keys from him.) He walked not only through our neighborhood, but down the main road. I so hope none of my neighbors saw him...

Anyway, when we thought they were leaving on Wednesday, we made plans to go to the pool during the day, come home to rest and then go to another pool with friends in the evening and do fireworks. Well, we didn't want to take them to the first pool because it was going to be packed and honestly, my dad was embarrassing by this point. I had already taken him once and he and mom went with just the kids once anyway. (My father works in a factory and constantly burns his arms on machinery. So, at any given time he has anywhere from 5-10, about 5-7 inch burns on his arms. He tries to keep some covered with band aids, but it is just so gross! I don't understand how his factory can continue to let this happen, but that is a whole other post.) Well, one of the excuses my mom had used to not leave was that she woke up with a migraine. When we found out they weren't leaving, BD and I thought we could take the kids and my parents to a really nice large park and have a picnic, but my mom pushed us to go to the pool without them so that she could lay down and rest. I really don't think she had a headache, but she wanted us to go with our friends. My sister had also called and said my dad said something to her about thinking this vacation would "help them", referring to him and my mom, but that "it wasn't". She told him what did he expect when they weren't going someplace alone and suggested that I tell him and mom to go to lunch someplace while we were gone.

So, BD, PM, DQ and I headed to the pool at 11am and my mom went to rest. We got home at 1:30 and found my dad walking up the driveway, barefoot and shirtless, looking at a map. Mom was sitting out on the back deck, they hadn't gone anywhere. We put the kids down for a nap and after that, the rest of the day actually went very smoothly. I think I got to the point of not trying to please him anymore and concentrated my efforts on the kids having fun. From now on, that is my game plan. I refuse to give in to his childish ways. I will just focus on my mom and the kids having fun.

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