I Have Become What I Hate Pt I

I tried hard not to ever become the dreaded Mother-In-Law, but I fear it has now happened. It isn’t in reference to a current son-in-law, but rather to an ex, so don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

Youngest daughter and I went to a popular multi-product store last night. In the parking lot, she commented, “That looks like Nicholas”*… oh, wait, that IS Nicholas! He was there with his dad (eldest daughter’s ex) and the dad’s girlfriend.

By the time we got into the store, they weren’t in sight and we proceeded to do our shopping, keeping our eyes peeled for Nicholas. I happened to catch sight of Mark* (the ex) cutting through another part of the store and saying to someone out of sight “We’ll be right over here”.

We walked toward where he’d been and there was Nicholas, standing in the toy isle. By himself. (He’s in 3rd grade). We said hi to him and started chatting, the whole time keeping an eye out for Mark, who I was sure was going to come up any second.

I went over to where I’d last seen Mark, and looked around and saw no sign of him. Casually, my daughter and I looked up and down the isles near where Nicholas was absorbed in trying to decide which toy he thought was the best. No Mark. No girlfriend.

Finally, after chatting with Nicholas for at least 15 minutes, Mark and the girlfriend come strolling up. Startled to find us talking to Nicholas, back-peddling soon began. The first comment out of his mouth was something about leaving children alone. Flippant. Guilty. Throughout the next few minutes while we said goodbye to Nicholas, Mark mentioned it again. Yes, asshat, you were caught. All the joking and backpeddling in the world is not going to keep me from telling my daughter you left my grandson standing in the big store toy department by himself for at least 15 minutes while you were nowhere in sight, or earshot. (Daughter and I figured if he’d been within hearing distance, he’d have shown up much sooner and been less surprised.)

I hate this. I don’t like to be the bad guy. I don’t like to go tattling to my daughter about her ex’s bad behavior. I also don’t like the thought of my grandson being left alone like that. Sad as it is, that’s how little kids disappear.

I live in a fairly good sized town, but as I’ve told my kids while they were growing up… it’s really a small town. My husband has lived here his whole life and knows a lot of people. There are only so many places to shop. It’s inevitable that you will be caught. Someone you know or we know will see you. Someone you know will tell your parents. In this case, someone you know saw you and is going to tell HIS parent. Get your act together. What was so important you had to leave Nicholas alone for that amount of time in the store? You couldn’t hang out with him in the toy department and then go look at what you and the girlfriend wanted to look at? C’mon… put your brain in gear. This is your kid. I like to give my ex son-in-law’s the benefit of the doubt, but you’ve disappointed me once again.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent and non-so-innocent

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

7 thoughts on “I Have Become What I Hate Pt I”

  1. I know your loyalty is to your daughter but maybe you could have just spoken to him about it and not told your daughter? If they’d still been together, this would be right but since he’s an ex, I guess you have no loyalties to protect him. I’d certainly have said something to him. You just can’t leave kids alone in this day and age.
    Which reminds me of a funny story. Back in the days when you COULD leave your kid alone in the toy section for a few minutes, my mom left me and my brother in the toy section of Kmart. After a while, I grew panicked for some reason. I took my brother with me to the front desk and told the clerk we were lost. She paged my mother to the front and was mortified. She’s never let me forget how embarassed she was that day. Hee hee!

  2. I think loyalty should be to the grandson. As a perfect stranger I may likey have felt obligated to report the kid to a manager or store security under the circumstances described. it is a terrible truth that preditors are out there and hunting season seems to be the holidays…

  3. how can you not tell her? it’s your grandson and that was unsafe. maybe it will be a wake up call to the ex-son-in-law? we can only hope.
    this does, in no way, make you a bad person sue.

  4. Your grandson’s safety is the number one priority Sue. I see no reason not to tell your daughter. I think you handled the situation very well. Predators hang out where kids gather. That would be a toy section of a dept. store as well. I think it’s imperative that your grandson’s Mom know what her X and his g/f did. So she can have a chat with him about child safety.
    PS. The first thought I had after reading your comment on my blog this morning was, “I want Sue to adopt me!” 😉 Thank you so much for what you said, dear lady.

  5. I don’t think you’re being a bad MIL. It’s one thing to report peoples’ whereabouts just for the sake of it, but it’s different when your grandson was neglected for so long.

  6. I think you absolutely should tell your daughter. It’s your grandson’s safety at stake. As for giving “Mark” a scolding, it seems apparent from his behavior after he was caught that he knew he had done wrong. What would have been a good lesson for him, though, would have been if you two had spirited Nicholas off somewhere for an ice cream and left “Mark” flapping in the breeze and in a panic looking for the boy and wondering if he’d been kidnapped. It would have been a great way to teach him that the boy should not be left alone.

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