Bean there: Spring-breaking with the in-laws

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My wife’s parents have visited us every spring break for the last three years. They’ve cruised up to Alaska to see us, literally cruising in a big ship. They’ve flown across country, and they’ve driven thousands and thousands of miles to visit us and to help us move.

I’m forever indebted to them for their kindness and their willingness to help.

But those are the things we come to expect. Family is family, and there has always been that notion of being there for each other in times of crisis big or small.

It’s the little things I’ve been appreciating lately.

We try and pull out all the stops when they come. We take them to cool places, arrange for dog sledding trips in Alaska, fishing expeditions. And in Chicago, we took them to the best hot dog stand in the city. We walked down the Magnificent Mile and took pictures in front of the Bean.

But they are happiest when they’re interacting with the kids.

My mother-in-law reads to them as they wake up and take breakfast. Then she explains things slowly to them, taking time to make sure they understand.

My father-in-law banters about sports with the boys, unconcerned about the business of life since he retired. It’s nice to see him relax in a chair and just enjoy the things around him.
When the kids are doing their own things, they play cards quietly at the kitchen table, basking in the sounds around them and watching the blustery day outside unfold.

We eat together and plan activities for the week, to which they just shrug and smile and say okay.

They’re my favorite kind of visitors. The kind who show up and live with you as if you’re just taking things up from the last time you visited.

They have no expectations, they’re easy to please. They’re fun and willing to do just about anything, even entertain a hyper-active 7-year-old granddaughter who wants to turn their card game into a role-playing board game.

When I married Cheryl back in 1994, I never guessed what life might be like with in-laws. You see such comedic and sometimes horrific examples on television.

You get what you get, and in that I’m lucky. But in-laws are an extended part of your community, if not your direct community. And they play a special role in that you can only pick them through the one you marry. And I wonder how often, if ever, that even comes up. Unless you live in a country where marriages are arranged. 

I love spring break with my mom and dad in-law. I look forward to it every year for the joy it brings my kids and therefore me. 

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