Are you paying attention to what is going on with the other set of parents in your children’s life? I think it may be my duty to warn you that when you hear about what has happened to them you need to take notes. You are seeing the future in action and you will be next.
The other-in-laws do not do good things. When I am at home I listen to my children complain about their parents. It isn’t that they shouldn’t complain. Really, I can see their point. After all, their mothers- and fathers-in-law have become my other-in-laws. I know what they are up against. I have had mothers- and fathers-in-law in the past and trust me, I complained too. That is what children do. Once in a while though, I throw my hand up in the air and cry, “Just shoot me now!”
However, listening to the complaints about the other-in-laws is a lot different than being the other-in-law complained about. I have discovered I don’t mind it when they complain about the other-in-laws. But I am approaching or have passed the age when my children will begin to complain about me. I can see how they may complain behind my back. I think I mind that. Don’t think I am not keeping an eye on them. I am beginning to worry.
You see I did not know that my children would have me “old” long before it even occurred to me to act that way. I am paying close attention to magazine articles with lists of things to avoid if you don’t want to act old. Acting old will have the children carting a person off to the “home” long before the person being carted guesses what they are up to. I have learned to be on my guard.
The other-in-law fell down at a wedding. I heard that was not a good thing. If I am quiet they might not notice that I still have a limp from that time I tripped on a hole in the lawn. Asking too many questions is a bad thing so I don’t do that. I never, never ask them to explain a TV show even though I don’t quite hear what those people are saying while they fumble around in the dark on the screen. I have heard complaints about TV-watching with the other-in-laws. Really, old people, like good children, need to be seen and not heard.
I forget what I did the last time I was at their house. That is probably not good. They frown on forgetfulness. I really did not know that in their world, forgetting stuff is the beginning of senility. Honestly, I lost my billfold when I was 12 and had no idea where it had gone. When it turned up that first time I thought it was a miracle. Once we went on vacation, I lost the keys to our house. We found them in the front door when we returned home two weeks later. Since then, I have come to believe that nothing is ever lost. It is just misplaced.
But my children cluck their tongues at the other-in-laws’ forgetfulness and talk about “how they are failing.” Honestly, one other-in-law left the crated dog in the airport. She was under a lot of pressure. Poor woman. She isn’t senile just because she lost the dog. If my history of absentmindedness is any indicator that I am failing, I would have been long gone by now. Personally, I think the only people who aren’t forgetful are the ones who have nothing going on inside their heads.
Now I am beginning to worry that my children will have used up all their “old person” time on this earth before it gets to be my turn. When I get sick they will think, “I have done this for one set of parents (or two if the other-in-law-parents have been divorced). My brother/sister/brother can cover this one problem with Mom.” In the end no one will come because the allotted time that each person is required to spend taking care of old people on this earth is finite and the other-in-laws have emptied the bank.
Maybe that is why old people will attach themselves to a neighbor or church. The other-in-laws have used up all the time. They keep the neighbors in reserve just in case. It could be that there is a window of opportunity for getting one’s share of time and if you get old too late you are out of luck.
I remain hopeful. I have wonderful children and they have a sense of humor almost as wicked as their mother’s. It is a given that I will tip over sooner or later. In the meantime I keep long lists so I won’t forget things, and watch the other-in-laws very carefully.