Monday, 26 December 2011

Hands up all those whose Christmas involved a dead frog

Or how to deal with a demented MiL at Christmas.

Having arranged that older son (who is a chef) will cook Christmas meal and we will take it to MiL's house just leaving the parboiled potatoes to roast when we get there, we load the car up and set off down the motorway. Slightly later than I would have liked as none of the children want to get out of bed.

Tried phoning MiL throughout the 40-mile journey to tell her to put the oven on to heat up (in the full knowledge that 10 minutes later she'll go out to the kitchen and switch it off again). Constantly I get "User busy". She doesn't talk to anyone that long, ever. When we get there we discover upstairs extension has been left off the hook "so that no-one can phone me up at night", or during the day, or ever.

We arrive to find her eating soup. "What are you doing here?" We've brought your Christmas dinner. "Oh well, when you didn't come yesterday, I thought you weren't coming. It's Boxing Day now." No, it's Christmas Day, and we've brought your dinner.

Older son and I head for kitchen, and proceed to make full use of antibacterial spray, J-cloths, washing up liquid, rubber gloves, etc. before we even attempt the dinner. I ask younger son to bring me all the cutlery so I can wash that before we use it, and he comes back to say there are no forks in the sideboard drawer. The corkscrew has also disappeared.

OH goes upstairs and announces that toilet needs severe attention. Seems like having a water meter means you shouldn't use any water. We leave that area to him, whilst we battle on downstairs.

I hunt out all the so-called "clean" towels and facecloths, etc plus the dirty ones and put them all in the washing machine.

After lunch, older son takes remaining scraps out to put on lawn for seagulls to fight over, and comes back in to say drains are blocked and washing machine is discharging over the path and garden.

Whilst I'm washing up and trying to find pegs to hang washing out (Aren't they hanging up in the cupboard in the kitchen?" Er no, that's had a fridge/freezer filling that cupboard for the last 25 years. "Oh well I don't know where they are then.") OH and older son find drain rods and clear some stuff but there still seems to be a blockage at the U-bend bit. Turns out to be (quite a large) dead frog.

Add to that the fact that when we arrived she was sat watching the TV with no signal, just a large figure 1 at the top, having disconnected the set-top tuner and all its cables, who knows how long ago she'd done that. She seems to have thrown out recently: a salt and pepper set, a TV remote control (she was found recently trying to change channels with a calculator), the panic alarm in the hall - all things she saw no need for.

So you see, Tim, 24 hours and I get back to normality. Hope you all had a lovely day.


  1. Oh blimey.

    Sorry, I can't think of anything more to say. What a worry for you.

  2. No, it's not a worry for us.
    She is the most bloody-minded person you can think of and refuses to be helped, or to be at all sociable with anyone else. Her husband died 23 years ago and ever since she's snubbed anyone who has offered anything socially (and her neighbours have been very good and offered a lot).
    She refuses to leave her own home, hates the care workers who come in once a day, and then moans about being lonely.
    This has been going on for quite a time, so by now we are resigned to it. If she's happier where she is, then there is no point in forcing her into a care home.
    It's just that if you visit then you have to be prepared to do a lot of cleaning. And sorting out. And finding things she's misplaced, apart from the things she's thrown out because she doesn't see the need for.

  3. I know two, and am aware of several more, like MiL. Luckily I'm not personally responsible for any of them, and intend to keep it that way. But thanks for turning it into a smile for us.

    Can't offer a dead frog, but we did have a demented dog if that's near enough.

  4. There's a bit of my Mum there. She won't use her dish washer as it wastes electricity.

  5. We know only too well how frustrating this situation can be (albeit with one generation further back). The thing that kept us going was knowing that she wasn't at all worried about it. I wish you strength in coping with it...