In(out)-laws

We have just survived another visit.

I have the pleasure of “receiving” my father-in-law every year. I use the word visit very very loosely.  I don’t want to over generalize, but most people seem to complain about their in-laws in some way or another, they meddle too much, they try to control, etc.  Mine is quite a bit different.

First, some context he lives on the other side of the planet, Hong Kong to be specific.  We only see him once a year, about 2 weeks at a time, during that time he stays at our house.

Now, to what bothers me about him, he’s a nice enough guy, he doesn’t look for conflict, he doesn’t try to start arguments, he just treats our house as you would a hotel.  He comes and goes as he pleases, well actually more time going then coming, this is part of the problem.  As a man with 3 grandsons, I (as a father ) couldn’t imagine not spending time with them, he could barely care to do anything with them.  One evening my oldest, 4 1/2, went to ask him to play a game with him after supper, my father in-law flat out told him NO, why, not because he was tired from jet lag, not because he was busy, but because he was watching some movie on his laptop.  The man is only here once a year, why would he not want to spend some time with his grand kids.

Most of the time he spent actually at the house not watching TV on his computer, was spent on the phone, trying to find something to do.  He spent 20 years in Canada, so he still has friends around, which I can understand he would like to see them, but at what cost.

What frustrates me the most however, is that my boys, just want to spend time with him, and every time he says no, walks out of the house or is on the phone, they ask me why he won’t play with them.  How do you answer a 4 1/2 year old, and a 3 year old that just want to spend time with their grand father that they don’t see very often, that he couldn’t care less.

There is a common question that gets asked, what would you do if you knew you had a fixed amount of time left to live/spend in one place/ etc, the answer: make the best use of that time, enjoy it like as much as possible and make it count.

Well every time he comes into our lives, it’s with a fixed amount of time.  I ask you, in what universe can going shopping, spending 2 hours on the phone trying to find someone to go see be  more important than spending 30 minutes playing with a child, any child.

enough of my rant for the day.  he’s left now, and we can get back to spending time as a family, and dread the next visit.

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Tim Voet has been in the IT industry since 1997. Tim started his career doing tech support and network administration at a large Pharma company. He then spent the next 12 years doing development, leading and managing development teams, mostly in Java, but also some PHP, and Ruby on Rails. Tim has always hands on, and loves challenges that make most people cringe. When he isn't at work, he's spending as much time as he can with his wife and 3 boys. Life can be a busy time with that many young kids. He is currently open to new consulting opportunities, please feel free to contact him with your project information tim - at - timvoet dot com

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