Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You Can't Kill 'Em III

I am an only child. When I was a child, that bothered me some. Now I have to admit I'm grateful. Occasionally I look around at our four children and wonder, "What have I done to you?" I wonder if I've burdened them with guilt trips and heartaches to last a lifetime. I wonder if they'll end up hating each other, or at least a strong dis-like. So far it's been good. They had their normal upsurges when they were young, but now as young adults they actually seem to like each other and get along well. I feel blessed.

Hubby, however, is not an only child. BIL has been discussed a bit. Now I will introduce you to the other to be known as the Princess. (MIL is the Queen). The Princess is two years younger than Hubby. She was the one that when he quit college and went into the Navy proceeded to get not one, not two, but three, ladies and gentlemen... three college degrees. She got enough for all three siblings. Her parents were so proud.

Then she proceeded to forget everything she learned and moved to Virginia with her husband to manage a dairy farm. Oh.Woe.Is.Me. Yes, OWIM became the mantra we heard over and over until we wanted to puke our guts up every time MIL said "The Princess called today". GAK.

We decided if we didn't live 3 miles away from MIL, or at least 15 like BIL, then we, too, could claim object poverty and lives with no joy. Perhaps then MIL would take pity on us and we could be treated like visiting royalty every time we decided to bounce into the area. I know, I know, I just got done begruding MY SIL for saying my daughter was spoiled, but I mean, REALLY. I try to be equally spoily with all my kids. (Is spoily a word?)

When our kids were little we scraped and saved to buy them a swingset that was large enough that all four of them could play at once. MIL came over and saw it and the next thing we knew there was money flying across the country so the Princess could have one for her children. Hmmm...

When our youngest was only about 6 months old, we loaded the whole family in the van (not such a thing as a mini-van then, kiddies) and made the Trip From Hell. Because at the time Hubby worked for his dad on the farm, it was highly frowned upon to take a vacation. Therefore, we were sly... we figured they'd approve a vacation if it was going out to see his sister! Yeah...that's the ticket! Boy, did that ever backfire.

First we were trying to keep it on the cheap. With four kids under 7, McDonalds was breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2-1/2 days. The youngest was either carsick, had flu, or was teething and pretty muched cried the whole time. As we were all craming in one motel room at night, I ended up taking him to the van and trying to sleep there while letting him scream his head off and not wake up the other family members and/or motel guests. Did I mention I drove the whole way?

In the August heatwave, we arrived bedraggled, tired, and ready for things to stop moving. Hubby got a little carsick himself going through the Smoky Mountains. This was before they had nice freeways going through, nooooo... it was two-lane-watch-out-here-comes-a-logging-truck-on-our-side-around-the-corner-I-said-WATCH-OUT-AAAAAAAAAIIIIIIEEEEE!

We unloaded the van and the kids that could walk ran around with the Princess' two children. Get that energy out, kids! Then Hubby went to the barn to see his BIL... the Princess' husband (ya following?). He walks in and BIL says, "No time to talk, look around if you want but I can't stop to show you around". No "hi", "how are you", "nice to see you", "how was the trip"...

Hubby walked in the house and wanted to pack up the van and leave. He is basically a very calm, rational man. He had cartoon steam coming out of his ears.

On top of it all, we didn't realize we'd walked in on the first day of the Cattlemans something-or-other. Like a fair/sale/whoop-de-doo all rolled into one. The adults started breezing around and whipping the kids around and "oh, would you mind watching the little preciouses while we go to the thing tonight?".

Hubby went with them. I stayed home with six kids under 7. (I still have a full head of hair!)

The next day I did laundry, cooked food, cleaned, babysat. All in a 100-year old house that had no air conditioning (at all), and whose windows were painted shut. That night they took all the bigger kids. I stayed home with the baby. Ahhh... all I had to do was bake a loaf of bread, do the supper dishes.... you get the picture. I forgot to mention, they didn't believe in TV. Yes, indeedy we're havin' a hot time in the ol' town tonight!

When they walked in the door at 10 o'clock, exhausted, our youngest daughter who at the time was just 2-1/2, came in and sat on the sofa and peed. Yeah, peed. She'd been half-asleep and was potty trained, but accidents DO happen... unless you are in the Princess' house, then it MUST HAVE BEEN ON PURPOSE. Your 2-1/2 year-old daughter has just become the SPAWN of the DEVIL. THIS SOFA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Oh for cripes sake! Burn the damn thing if it's that bad!

I cleaned and cleaned until that sofa was cleaner than it was when we came. The Princess hovered around making sure it was clean. Yep, you can eat on it if you want, Lady...

The rest of the trip was spent traveling to neighboring areas, Washington, Arlington and to the beach one day. We left BIL at home with his "Ladies" (the cows). We took all the kids. It was hot. It was hell.

After a week of working harder than I do at my own home, we left for our own home. Now the oldest child was puking. The youngest was still crying, and the middle two were just plain cranky. When we got home and pulled in the garage, Hubby got out and on his knees and kissed the concrete floor. "I don't care what they do to me, I'm NEVER going out East again. Ever."

Oh, and remember the big stink about the sofa? Would you believe 10 years later they were here visiting and their boy ran a four-wheeler into my husbands' relatively new pickup? Yes, there was damage. That was after the year they came out and the boy flipped the four-wheeler on it's side and broke the handlebars. Oh... and that was the year or two after they came out and the kid tried to run over my husband with the combine that the Princess INSIST son must ride in. Why, you ask, didn't you take away the four-wheeler? Because MIL said it was okay. ... and, no, Hubby didn't beat said child within an inch of his life. He treated him better than they treated our kids. Well, I guess he did give him a paddling when he tried to run him over, but of course then HE became MEAN UNCLE (HUBBY) to my Hubby's delight he never asked to go in any equipment again!!

Their kids are grown now.

The Princess still whines.

The BIL hasn't been to Iowa since FIL died several years ago. He must stay home and take care of his ladies... of course, somehow they manage to rent a house on the beach for a couple of weeks a year, and they've been to Australia, Ireland, Norway, a few other places... Just doesn't make sense, somehow.

We've never been back to Virginia.