My MIL and I get along most of the time but tonight she did something that absolutely sent me to the moon. Last week my oldest daughter told me about a game that she played with some of her kindergarten classmates that involved them pretending that they were keeping a doll prisoner and then abusing it (bashing its head with a block, etc.) and eventually executing it. It was free play time and apparently the teacher was supervising some other kids. I told DD that that type of play was not okay and had her write sentences (“I will never pretend to kill anything. It is displeasing to God and Daddy and Mommy.”) five times. We talked about why pretending such a thing was wrong and why it’s displeasing to God and she got the message. Her paper was still laying on the shelf in the living room tonight. Enter my MIL.
MIL has a cousin who uses writing sentences as a discipline, but he goes completely overboard. I’ve never actually seen it myself but my MIL claims that her cousin’s wife has called her begging for her to go help finish the sentences before he gets back from whatever trip. Typically his daughter has to write something 500 times. Now, there’s a difference between having a kid write something 5 times and 500 times but my MIL failed to see it. What she saw was that I was using a discipline that her cousin uses and she chose to argue with me about it and suggest that it was abusive IN FRONT OF MY KIDS. I tried to tell her that I wouldn’t discuss it with her in front of the kids and that discipline issues were between my DH and I but she wouldn’t stop, she just continued trying to tell me that I was wrong and that using that as discipline wasn’t acceptable in “her” family. I told her that the kids were MY family and to drop it and went to get my DH, who was in the next room covered in saw dust (ripping up the subfloor in the bathroom) and looking very tired. I opened the door and hissed “I’m gonna kill your mother” and she left at that point.
So…I need to work on meekness, as evidenced by the fact that I went from calm to beyond furious in two seconds and I owe my kid 39 sentences now (“I will not threaten to kill my MIL. It is displeasing to God and DH and the kids.”) but this is not the first time we’ve had this discussion, unfortunately. It won’t be the last. What actually made her leave was the fact that I went to get my husband (she was getting her purse and coat before I even opened my mouth) not what I said, though that certainly didn’t help matters. She is one of those women who will challenge me endlessly but backs down immediately when I refer her to my DH. (Last year DH and the kids and FIL took a trip out of town on her birthday; I only went at the last minute because the thing I was supposed to be doing that day didn’t happen. Even though she knew they’d been planning this trip for a month or so before the date and I only went last minute it became my fault that we were out of town. When she tried to hassle me about it I told her that she needed to discuss it with her son, who was sitting there next to me listening to the conversation. She dropped it.) I feel bad about my part of the disintegration of the conversation and saying what I said, but if I call her and apologize she’s going to try to run roughshod over me again. It’s exhausting and I’m not sure what to do next. Any suggestions?