Spent the afternoon with just about all the in-laws -- we were combining b-days (nephew turned 21 last month, difficult child 1's b-day is next week, husband's and his mom's the week after) and we all met down at mother in law/father in law's new place south of here. husband handled his usual pre-family-gathering-stress fairly well. We used to inevitably get in arguments on the way to any gathering of his family because his anxiety got so darn high, he managed to find something to get upset about. There is just so much competition and criticism between the "adult" kids it is laughable to see at their ages which range from 47 to 56. It's like they all regress to a time in their lives when they apparently did not get enough attention from their mom. Sometimes I think that woman feeds into it, too. Just so much pettiness, so much insecurity, huge need to control, control, control. Makes me want to scream sometimes. My biggest complaint is that they never talk TO or WITH me, it's always AT me. They never ask about ME or MY life, it's always a show-and-tell session to brag about THEIR kid or THEIR job or some other self-esteem boosting moment or validation. Whenever one of them starts talking, I always seem to envision a little 4yo jumping up and down screaming "Look at ME! Look at ME! Look at ME!" Pathetic. Fortunately, my kids aren't fazed by any of it -- easy child just looks at me and rolls here eyes and shakes her head or leaves the room. The difficult children just ignore whatever comments the adults are making to eachother. I'm just grateful one brother in law had the presence of mind to bring a bottle of wine! With any luck, we won't have to see them again until Thanksgiving or Christmas!