From Outlaw to In-Law
“Where are we going, dad?” the 10 year old asked excitedly.
“To see the outlaws,” came the quick reply, accompanied by a humorless chuckle.
In the midst of excited children’s chatter, the family put on their best attire, fed and watered the pets and made sure that Parfait was outside before the front door was firmly closed. The three children clambered noisily into the family’s seven seater, all striving to be the first into the car, and thus gain access to the much yearned for rear seats. Two adults positioned themselves in the front seats, the lady of the house in the driving seat, while her spouse seated himself in the front passenger seat, a ‘dressed’ pavlova resting precariously on his knees.
“That was uncalled for.” The driver snapped. “Just because you cannot see the value my parents’ influence can be to our offspring and our relationship. How dare you compare them to a group of outcasts in society?”
“I was just joking,” came the muttered reply, although both the adults present understood the strain in the relationship between the man and his offspring’s maternal grandparents.
“Granddad,” Bessie said, two hours later, “how come you and granny are outlaws?”
Granddad chuckled. He had referred to his wife’s parents in much the same way many years before. Now he had an answer to explain this concept to even the youngest of his grandchildren.
“Well, Bessie,” he began, “outlaws are seen as undesirable people. In much the same way, people see the influence of parents on their lives and relationships as not wanted, especially when those parents are not their own. For a long time I used to call your granny’s parents my outlaws. Then one day I needed their help, when your granny was very sick. It was then I realized how important it was for me to have them as part of my life and part of our marriage. Without them, your granny and I might not still be together.”
Bessie’s dad sat quietly by, embarrassed that his flippant comment had been revealed to those it was about. As he listened to the words of wisdom that Bessie was being given, he realized just how precious Julie’s relationship with her parents was, and how important it was for him to allow that relationship to be an integral part of his and Julie’s own relationship. I must let them into my life, and into our marriage, he thought. Mum was right when she told me I was not only marrying Julie, but marrying into her family.
As the family returned home from the visit, each happily lost in their own memories of the events of the day, Bessie interrupted her father‘s thoughts with a disturbing question.
“Daddy,” she asked worriedly, “will mummy need to get very sick for Granny and granddad to become your in-laws. I really, really don’t want mummy to be sick.”
“No, darling,” her dad replied, “Granny and granddad are already my in-laws. They are an important part of our family. I was wrong to give you the impression that they are an unwelcome intrusion in our home.”
With quiet by strong resolve, Tom vowed that from then on Julie’s parents would no longer be his “out-laws” but would be his in-laws, and that any influence that they would have on his family and home would be most welcome. Never again would he allow his children to get the impression that their grandparents were ‘out’ of the family group. Never.
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