You guys aren't sick of hearing about the in-laws yet, right? OK, good, because I have more to say.
We are 1/3 of the way through the trip. They have been here a whole week. So far things are going pretty well. They are quite self-sufficient, as it turns out. They are addicted to Whole Foods and go there almost every single day at least once. We are quite surprised that they like such a pricey store, but maybe the exchange rate makes it feel more affordable?
They also can entertain themselves doing very little for long stretches of time. Yesterday they went to the mall to take advantage of the holiday sales. They left at 11 a.m. and came home at 7 p.m. They were at the mall that entire time except the last half hour when they were at Whole Foods. I don't know exactly what they were doing at the mall, as the only store they actually purchased anything at was Macy's, but they apparently had a great time during the eight hours they spent there, so we're not complaining.
(Though, as an aside, it's a little weird to me that they complained when they scheduled their visit that we couldn't take vacation time off work for the three weeks they were here, and then on the days we actually don't have to work, they head out for all-day activities by themselves. But hey, whatever works.)
On Friday night we took them to a Rockies game, per their request. We thought they would be bored since they don't understand baseball and it's a long, slow game if you don't know what's going on, but they enjoyed themselves, and the ballpark food, and the fireworks after the game. On Saturday it was a trip to Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak. They were afraid of Pikes Peak, having apparently read in some guide book that the drive up can be dangerous (which... well, the road lacks guardrails and is scary, but as long as you're careful and keep your eyes on the road, I don't think it's actually dangerous). But we talked them into going and they LOVED it, and are still raving about it days later.
Then on Sunday they spent the whole day downtown by themselves. Not quite sure what they did, but they came home in time for dinner and we grilled out with them. We were going to go see the fireworks, but then it poured with rain for hours on end, so we skipped it. We were OK with that, since we saw the fireworks at the Rockies game on Friday. And then yesterday, as I said, they spent the whole day at the mall.
Ooh, but we did spend all of Sunday night playing Rock Band Beatles, which turned out to be surprisingly awesome. We only have three instruments (drums, guitar, and microphone), so I sang, Torsten and his dad traded off the drums and guitar, and Torsten's mom danced. She is an awesome dancer, actually. It was a surprisingly fun bonding experience. I guess the Beatles are universal.
Of course, the negative stuff is all there too. The problem is that most of the negative comments aren't so much funny-terrible (a la Swistle's dearly departed MIL), they're just regular-terrible. They lose no opportunity to make unproductive negative comments such as telling Torsten that he was insane to quit his job to start a company, the company is way too high-risk and nobody will ever pay him for these services, and so on. Which: OK, we get it, that's how they feel, but at this point what is he supposed to do? Shout "You're right!" and go beg for his old job back? It's obviously too late for that, the deed is done, and ignoring the fact that he's a million times happier doing this than he was in his old job, and things are going great with the company, it just seems like the time has passed to make negative comments about the decision, you know?
And then also there was a fight over tips. We went for dinner at a brewery. The bill came to about $60. His parents generously offered to pay. Then they sat at the table debating whether they should leave $1.50 or $2 as the tip. This despite the fact that Torsten has told them a million times that 15% is a MINIMUM tip in this country, and if the service was good (which it was), it should really be more like 20%. And they do so much research before coming here, they MUST have read this in guide books as well. But they just refuse to believe it. Finally Torsten said that if they weren't going to tip an appropriate amount, he would just pay for dinner, at which point they caved in and tipped something more reasonable, but were very angry about it and grumped about it for the rest of the night.
It just gets... tiring. It's just hard to hear constant harping about how every single decision Torsten makes, or that we make together, is wrong and bad and is going to end poorly. When we try to tell them about things and make them feel included, we are met with resistance, or dead silence, or complete disinterest, or comments about how much better things would be if we were in Germany. They say very clearly that they don't want to hear about it, because things happening in our life are all because we live in the US and not in Germany, and that's not their problem, and we can expect no support from them. This no matter what kind of story we're telling, whether we're talking about something good or bad, and of course totally ignoring the fact that we aren't asking for any kind of support other than basic parental moral support.
And I get it, I do. They wish we lived in Germany. They don't like that their son lives so far away. But he does live here, he owns a house here, he has a company here. He's been here for over five years. He is not going anywhere. At a certain point it would be nice if they could accept that fact, or at least try to keep their disapproval to themselves, or at least try to keep their nasty comments to themselves and display SOME sort of interest in what's going on in his life, instead of just stonewalling him because everything he tells them about his life is viewed in the framework of "life in the US instead of in Germany."
But of course, just when you start to get frustrated beyond words, they do something totally nice and unexpected, like bringing me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for no reason. And then you feel guilty for being frustrated. Even though you can see that the negative comments are causing your husband to develop an ulcer.
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