A few weeks back, I received an email from a site called Grandparents.com or something like that, which is why I am not bothering with linkage. It seemed like a nice enough place, from what I saw. They sent me an email asking me about my parents and something about how our relationship has gone since I have had children, etc. I did not end up replying because I really had nothing to report. My mom, dad, and step-mom are all stellar grandparents. They are great with the kids, the kids adore all of them and the grandparents are respectful towards X and I with our parenting decisions. And yes, my Olathe Grandma makes all the typical Worrywort Comments for which she is famous - it seems, invariably my kids are under dressed for whatever the weather, be it July or August (pneumonia knows no season, did you not know?) Nonetheless, she is the first to compliment my sister and me on our parenting skills.
But my aunt? Is not. And she is vocal about it. Granted, our relationship has always been strained, even when I was a little girl, she did not like me (or my sister, for that matter) and she had very, very little to do with us when we visited our grandma. However, since she lives with my grandma, with whom my sister and I are extremely close, our aunt is an unavoidable fixture in our lives.
Overall, this aunt is good with my kids. Sorta. If she was not constantly trying to ply them with cheap toys and junk food, it probably would be okay. But, no. She is relentless in her corn syrupy, trans fat laden culinary assault on my kids (assaults delicately colored in a lovely hue of Red #40, of course.) And the best part, is this: After these nasty, sugary treats, the kids get crazy and............. wait for it.....wait for it...... Yep - you guessed it - my aunt then complains about how wild the kids are.
Okay, all of this bad enough - the fact that my aunt is purposefully giving my kids food that she knows I do not want them to eat. But folks, it gets better - she will ask/show the kids the food first and then pulls the Your Mother Routine by telling the kids, "ask your mother" or "no, your mother won't let you have this". Listen, I do not mind being the bad guy. Ask Arun! Go ahead! He will tell you that I cackle with reckless abandon as I go about denying him his heart's desire.
No, no....the worst part of all about this twisted relationship is when my aunt talks about me when I am in another room. The transgressions are far and wide - they involve under dressing, a lack of socks or footwear or a hat or just general standards of behavior/safety that she and I do not agree upon.
Yesterday, at my great-grandmother's cousin's wife's house, I dropped in at the estate sale to check in on my grandma( she is the executor of this relative's estate and it has been a strain on her, I thought she would love to see the kids.) My aunt was there, foisting crap on my kids again. At one point, when I was in another room, I heard "blah blah their mother blah blah". It did not anger me - frankly, none of this infuriates me. It does annoy me, but I know the score - I am happily married and have two lovely children. My aunt has never been married, never had children. Folks. I let a lot slide by the way side in the name of compassion.
However, in a fit of insomnia last night I realized something. Something that struck me hard and rattled around in my chest. Sure, I may be irked but I am able to brush this off. Whatever, right? On the other hand, she is spewing this verbal trash in front of my children. And therefore, it must stop.
The next time this happens, I am going to very clear and calm about it. I am going to tell her in no uncertain terms that I am teaching my kids to respect her. And I expect the same. From now on, I do not want her talking about me negatively in front of my children.