In-Laws (boundaries sold seperately)

Me First came home the other day dispondent. He went straight to his room and grabbed a multiplication tables game he’d received from a friend, then started punching the keys, all the while muttering to himself. I was trying to draw out of him what was wrong when the phone rang. “あのさぁ” begins my MIL.

This is rude. It would be rude even in English to jump into a confrontation by phone without saying “hello,” but in Japanese you usually have to go through some de rigeuer pleasantries about the weather in all situations except maybe a 911 call.

My dander was rising before I even knew what was up.

Then she begins. PIL had “happened” across Me First on his way home from school, and he looked crestfallen. The first bit there is BS. PIL would never just bump into Me First because his school is not near anyplace PIL would just be going. Unless he was stalking his grandson. But whatever. And I already knew Me First was upset and my conversation with him was being interrupted by this annoying phone call…

She continues by saying that Jiji talked to Me First and found out that he was upset because everyone else in his class knew their times tables except for him.

I replied that they haven’t started doing multiplication yet that I know of, but I’ll talk to Me First (aside to self)as soon as I can get these busybodies off the phone.

I should have inserted earplugs at this point, but I didn’t. In my naivete I failed to predict the tirade that was to follow.

There was a bit about “failure as a mother” and “not fulfilling my duty” and something about “being a disadvantage to my child” which I assume was directed at my non-Japaneseness, and how they knew all along the kids should be in juku and should have insisted on it earlier,(they think they can “insist” on things? Interesting.)topped off with an assumption that WE DON’T LEARN THE TIMES TABLES in America.

“Actually we learn up to 12×12. You only go to 9×9, right?”

Somehow, I managed to get off the phone without my head exploding. I still had a distraught child to deal with, and now I was feeling quite distraught myself.

I told him that the times tables weren’t all that hard. I sang a twos song for him and he learned that pretty quickly.

“That wasn’t so hard!” And with that all was right in his little world again.

Me Too had been home all day and was eating in the tatami room, which is forbidden, during all this drama. She’s really good at catching the right time to do the wrong thing. The house was, pardon my French, a fucking shambles. So I sent the kids out to play.

The mosquitos were bad that day. I knew that, so I sent them in long sleeves and pants and sprayed them with bug spray thoroughly before abandoning them to the great outdoors.

And then my MIL, whose house is about fifty meters away, came outside and told them to go home.


Then she called to berate me for letting them out when the bugs were bad. “I got several bites in short time I was there,” she said.

“How odd. My kids didn’t have any. Must have been the long sleeves and the bug spray.”

Btw, they don’t believe in bug spray (poison!)or in putting medicine on bites. MIL insists that if the bites are properly washed then they will go away. Every bite on my child is therefore testimony to what a bad mom I am.

We’re busy the next couple of weekends, so I’m hoping to just avoid them. I need a break from the crazy.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rawlikesushijapan
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 19:47:59

    That is just awful! How dare she say that to you! How do you put up with it?
    Hugs to you and your little angles x


    • hamakkomommy
      Oct 25, 2012 @ 21:07:32

      The kids are not little angels, that’s for sure! And neither am I. They would be dismayed to discover I plaster their dirty laundry all over the Internet. But that’s how I deal with it.


  2. chrysanthemummum
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 20:10:38

    Was just going to say the same as the above. I wouldn’t be able to hold my tongue if somebody spoke to me like that. Reading this makes me so glad my husband has never introduced me to his mother.
    You’re doing a grand job on raising those kids of yours. Don’t let your MIL tell you otherwise.


    • hamakkomommy
      Oct 25, 2012 @ 21:05:36

      I just wanted to get off the phone….MIL was talking into it and Jiji was ranting in the background just like a scene from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” except MIL dresses in all dark colors instead of pastel.

      I talked to Me First’s teacher the next day, and long story short, the in-laws are just WRONG. Yes, some kids have already memorized their times tables, but under no circumstances is that expected. He has a way he wants to do it that he thinks will be fun for the kids.

      I haven’t told the in-laws what the teacher said. I don’t plan on talking to them anytime soon. The kids have not been wanting to go over there, anyway. It’s happened occasionally in the past when MIL, especially, gets too big for her breeches and forgets what her role is. I’m just gonna try to stay away.

      While they may love ME well enough, they aren’t thrilled with having a foreigner be mother to the only grandson. They see it as a handicap, which in some ways it is, and then overstep their bounds trying to make up for that. I understand that they’re coming from a good place, they’re just imbeciles.

      At some point I need to write a book, “F@cked Up Shit My In-Laws Do.” They should never be allowed to leave the house, really. PIL can’t pass a button without pushing it, and MIL still has no idea about how to use her train pass even though she’s had it for five years. And she carries a tube of spicy mustard in her purse AT ALL TIMES. Cause you never know when you’ll have to do battle against bland food. (?)


  3. J's mom
    Oct 26, 2012 @ 11:34:31

    My inlaws are pretty similar regarding school. They are convinced ds will end up a homeless bum. And I have often thought of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. My mother-in-law is Marie!


  4. Kym (@kymmytha)
    Oct 26, 2012 @ 22:18:02

    If you wanted to get “F@cked Up Shit My In-Laws Do” finished quickly, you could be the editor, and take contributions from other gaijin mums… how to keep it small enough to be carried though – perhaps an eBook would work best ;)


  5. americanlostintokyo
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 14:46:16

    How terribly depressing. And, I was stressing out because my MIL was putting dishes back into the cupboard without having dried them. Come home from work to dish up my meal and all of the chawan are just plain wet. That phone call from your MIL is much worse…


    • hamakkomommy
      Oct 28, 2012 @ 15:50:38

      I don’t know, wet dishes? That’s just weird. Is she trying to attract cockroaches or something?


      • Lost in Tokyo
        Oct 29, 2012 @ 07:44:21

        I’m really not sure. I just know that her oozappa and tennen nature exceed anyone I know at times…
        She’s probably trying to freak me out so I eventually quit my job. If that is her aim, she is on the right track.

  6. americanlostintokyo
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 14:50:00

    BTW, my daughter will be starting multiplication next week too. I haven’t pressed her to memorize the table yet either. I figure over half of the kids in her class already know it from juku or wherever…but the teacher also stated to the mothers that she wanted to teach it her way or the school’s way so not to go overboard with the teaching everything in advance. I know no one in a Japanese school pays any attention to that…but she has enough on her plate already.


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