25 June 2007

Reason Number Five Million Why My In-Laws Are Insane

I'm so upset right now.

Background: My condo is in a two-family house. The guy who lives upstairs is perfection in a neighbor. He's great about stuff regarding the house, and he's become a friend. I feel very, very lucky to have such a good relationship with him.

The story: While my in-laws were here for the twins' birthday, they decided to do some yardwork. They wanted to weed, prune, and plant some flowers. Fine by me. The yard is pretty much my neighbor's domain, but I feel bad about not being more of a help with the work, so it seemed like a good deal to me.

Which is was, until my in-laws pulled up a bunch of my neighbor's plants and put other stuff in their place.

I've told them before (although it's true that I did not remind them on this visit) that my neighbor takes care of the yard and that he's planted things the way he likes them. My in-laws are allowed to add and clean up but not take away. In theory, they know this. Obviously, in practice, they forgot.

I had a distraught message from my neighbor letting me know how upset he was to see that many of his plants were gone. The plants were given to him by friends and family and have sentimental value. Now they are gone. Gone. I called an apologized tonight as soon as I got the message, but there's nothing to be done. My neighbor doesn't hold this against me, exactly, but I still feel so bad. I told him that we are dealing with people who threw away art that John and I had hanging on our walls, so to say that they don't respect other people's property is an understatement. There's just no excuse, and worse yet, no undoing what they did.

In the past when they've worked in the yard, we've had conversations like this:

In-Laws: "We want to move this bush."
Me: "That's my neighbor's bush. He planted it. You can't move it."
ILs: "But it needs more sun. That's a terrible spot for it."
Me: "That may be true, but we can' move it."
ILs (grudgingly): "Well, OK."

Then I have to watch them like a hawk to make sure they don't move the bush on the sly.

I just don't need this right now. It's just plants, but they really upset my neighbor, and in turn they upset me. I have such a raw empathy for the way my neighbor feels right now. My in-laws mean well, but it always comes out so wrong.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

You say that you think they mean well, but I have trouble being that generous. Perhaps it is because I am a gardener and this would really hurt. But your heart is so big and I should learn from that. If this ever happens to me I will try to remember your "mean well" response. Your in-laws are so lucky to have you as their daugther.

Rev Dr Mom said...

It's hard to imagine adults having such a hard time understanding things from another's perspective and respecting other's preferences--and property!

Angela said...

Yes in laws mean well. I think that there is a rule they have to be that way. I hate it

Anonymous said...

I don't think inlaws "mean well" when they do things like that. I think they show their true colors. Tessa B.

Caustic Cupcake said...

Are they always that domineering? Walking all over a daughter-in-law makes them bad in-laws, but that's a common enough thing. Walking all over the neighbors makes them rude in general.

Kathryn said...

Ouch...Not reasonable or considerate behaviour at all. I hope the miserable feelings it stirred up in you subside quickly. Hugs

Suz said...

The in-laws might have meant well, but in a very selfish way. I'm so sorry that you had to deal with this.

Kate said...

You poor thing. It was thoughtless of your in-laws to dig up someone else's plants (who does that?) but it was doubly thoughtless of them to put you in the middle and make you feel so awful for something you haven't done.

Christine said...

Honestly, Snick, I wouldn't let them work in your yard anymore. I know they want to help, but as you said, it just causes problems.

Maybe send your neighbor a nice plant as an apology? I know my parents-in-law had a dustup with some guests of their neighbors, and that's what the neighbors did. It went a long way.

Hugs to you. You certainly don't need this shit right now.

Julia said...

This definitely crosses the line. I can't believe grown people can't remember these simple rules, especially when they have been told many times before. You'd think it was their first birthday just now. But then my MIL claims to have no memory of some rather important things that happened, and she also has "interesting" views of certain events not shared by a single other soul. You are nice enough to think they mean well. I can't even go that far where my MIL is concerned.
I am so sorry they stuck their garden tools between you and your neighbor.

Rachel said...

Wow, that's a new low. Aargh!

Jolene said...

oh no. Gosh, what a terrible situation to be in. I'm sure your neighbor doesn't put the blame on you but I can only imagine how you must've felt. That's horrible. I don't like your in-laws very much for putting you in this position. I like the idea of giving your neighbor a new plant so it's something else that a friend gave to him and hopefully will have some sentimental value. I'm sorry Snick.

Aimee said...

I can soooo relate. It is rude and inconsiderate. But I think it's compulsive behavior on the part of mothers whose sons are married. It's a life-long game of one-upmanship.

Anonymous said...

I have a horrible MIL. Just horrible. She tries to convince my husband to leave me and move in with her just about every four weeks.

As for your neighbor, maybe you should go buy him a peace plant! They're beautiful and it comes with a dual meaning. It's not your fault it happened, but doing something nice might make the situation seem easier to bear.

Andrea

P.S. You really do seem to handle your ILs well. I would've completely lost it by now.

OTRgirl said...

Argh!!! That controlling thing drives me crazy. There's something in the Korean parent thing where they are always the parent, they always know best and they don't necessarily see a problem with extending that to the whole world.

Your in-laws seem to have that in greater measure than most. What a tragedy. I know how upset I would be if someone got rid of plants from my yard. I can't believe they trashed things you had hanging on the walls!!! So unacceptable.

halfmama said...

OMG. OMG!! You are being so understanding right now... I concur with one of your anon commenters: Your ILs are lucky to have you as their DIL.

Did you confront them with this? Why, WHY does anyone do this? So RUDE! Even if they 'forgot,' who would rip out someone else's plants and replace them, without asking first?

alyssa tucker said...

Ugh, this certainly isn't what you need right now. I'd be pissed too! It's nice that you have a good relationship with your neighbor. I agree, it's hard to believe that adults would have such a difficult time understanding property boundaries. Giving him some new plants is an excellent idea! Sorry you're having to deal with this crap too!

Amy said...

How unbelievably frustrating! I would be finding how much the plants were worth, and billing the in-laws. They should have to make this up to your neighbour, not you. And no more yardwork for them, ever.

Angela said...

Arghh!! I am so very sorry that you had to deal with this crap, like you need added stress or aggravation?!! My Korean parents can be equally insane and they also have a hard time listening sometimes....drives me crazy, I completely understand how frustrated and upset you must be.
I agree with one of the other commenters, maybe you can buy a plant for your neighbor, it might help him feel a little better.

buddha_girl said...

There is truly no explanation for their behavior other than the fact that although they bore and raised a wonderful man, they have become disrespectful, negligent, and self-centered during this time in their lives.

Perhaps you can have someone speak to them (if you don't want to do it) and suggest they attempt to make amends to your neighbor with a gift certificate to a local nursery.

I have no other words other than HANG IN THERE.

Karen O said...

In the "misery loves company" department, go to http://www.alittlepregnant.com/alittlepregnant/ and read the in-law incidents (mostly SIL, but some MIL and FILs, too.) Just when you think you've heard it all-

Are they leaving soon?

Alice said...

A lot of Korean first generation folk don't have great listening skills. I think this is a prime example. Something that really helped me was to develop a client type of relationship with the in laws. I treat them as clients (although clients I love). I try my best to do a great job and please them, but I realize that there are distinct boundaries. It made it a lot easier to deal with my Korean in laws...

Living your life to please others is such a jail sentence. I have let myself just try my best and set some limits because honestly when I first got married it seemed like a jail.

Your kids are beautiful and from your words I can tell you are raising them with love and kindness...Much love to you....Alice

Flicka said...

Any chance your in-laws would write a letter of apology to your neighbor? Or call him and apologize?

What a crap situation. I know stuff like this can make you want to curl up and wail.

xo

winecat said...

Ah, selective memory. Describes my MIL to a tee.

I like the idea of giving your neighbor a replacement plant but what about giving him a gift certificate to someplace like whiteflowerfarms.com so he can choose his own. They have a wonderful selectio n of unexpected plants. Also wonderful quality. Even better yet have your IL's pay for it and send a letter of apology.

winecat said...

Just clearing things up.
the letter of apology should come from the IL's not you. You didn't do anything wrong and apologized right away.

Anonymous said...

I refer to my inlaws as the "outlaws" - need I say more?

Jennifer said...

Can you make them go appologize? Much like you'd send a 4 year old to make amends? Sounds like they need a little community shame.

My inlaws are bad too, love them, but they drive me nuts. the most recent episode involved the FIL telling off a little old lady that cut through the yard. This old lady turned out to be the town matriarch (small town) and now we're social pariahs. I love my life.

Melany aka Supermom said...

That is so shocking. Really. URGH

Mamma said...

Wow! They are just rude!

Anonymous said...

"But I think it's compulsive behavior on the part of mothers whose sons are married.."

Gotta disagree on that one. My in-laws are fantastic at respecting boundaries. It's not as rare as you might think, it just doesn't come up that often.

Snick, With some relatives, it's worth it to pay for a hotel so that the only time they are at your home is under your supervision.

It's still a massive pain the tush and I'm sorry you have to deal with it.

You are a very kind and generous person. I'm glad to know you.

Kathleen

Glory Laine said...

You would think that during this time of celebration while morning they would be extra sensitive. Go figure. Just had my b/g twins first birthday party on Sunday. I finally posted the pictures today. What a day. What a year. Thinking of you in Oregon.

Mama Nabi said...

Ugh. For older Koreans, there's a general lack of respect when it comes to listening and hearing the younger generations. If we protest, WE are the ones being disrespectful.... I am so sorry that they did that. I wouldn't be surprised if they're expecting to be thanked for making the garden "better", i.e. miffed for their hard work not being recognized. I'm Korean and I find that extremely hard to live with - Snick, you really are a saint. I still can't believe they threw away your art and you're still speaking to them.

Lori said...

This post goes a long way towards explaining why I'm glad my Korean MIL isn't the kind of person who flies across the country to see her son and the white woman he married.

Hopefully the visit is drawing to a close...?

Marie-Baguette said...

poor you, what a nightmare. Is there any way to make them see what they did? I have decided to deal with my PIL the hard way: I will tell them a piece of my mind when I see them. Shutting up for so many years has just driven me insane. Good luck (PS I like the idea of giving him new plants)

Sarah D. said...

Arg, I feel your neighbor's pain. Once when I was on vacation the lady who was watching our house decided to try to help us out by weeding the flower garden, and she accidentally weeded out the pansy patch that was my pride and joy. It was pretty much irreplaceable, and I was grieved. But at least in her case, it was a pure, good-hearted mistake, and I never told her what she'd done because I knew she'd be heartbroken.

Sunny said...

Oh Honey! How horrible. Brings back bad memories. Not to exchange war stories, but, I've been there, done that and bought the T-shirt. When we first moved to this town we rented temporarily until we could buy. We also had the in-laws with us until we could get them settled somewhere. Do you know what they did? They totally dug up the fenced back yard of the rental (which was the play area of the small children of the owners who were away for the summer) and planted vegetables in it. Even though we were going to be there for just a couple of months. Not even long enough for the vegies to mature. While my back was turned for a moment! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO GET GRASS TO GROW IN THIS PLACE? We were so changpee. The owners were pretty nice about it. Bless them. Furthermore, when we lived in MA they were living in our house for a bit. Can you imagine this? She would gather snow from the yard and sprinkle it all over ours and the neighbor's hard shoveled driveway! Why? She wanted to melt the snow. Never mind that we had just piled (shovel full by shovel full) the snow INTO the yard to get it OFF the driveway! No amount of explaining that if snow melted on down-sloping driveways it would run into the garages would convince her. She was also immune to pleas that what she was doing was a law-suit waiting to happen. I learned to say "hajima" real fast. Yes, that was a little rude sounding, but, I have it on very good authority that the word "hajimaSHIPSHIYO" does not exist. I have NO idea how to rectify this. Poor you.

terri c said...

Mostly-lurker delurking... this sounds so upsetting, especially now when all of you are so raw and grieving. The only thing I can think of is to stress the sentimental nature of the plantings, even telling the ILs that the neighbor's garden was given to him by his parents and grandparents and that is why it is so important to him to leave it as it is. If they cannot respect you or him, perhaps they CAN respect his elders? Maybe too much of a hope.