I can’t help but feel a bit of the old Term Paper Due angst as I finally sit down to weigh in as a guest blogger here at DadCentric. Filled with both excitement and dread at the prospect of treading on hallowed Dad Turf, I wracked (racked? does anyone really know how to spell that?) my brain to settle on the ideal topic. And while I’ve toyed with some more heady ones, I can’t seem to ignore the windfall of fodder that currently surrounds me.

You see, the Cheeky clan is currently in the midst of a visit with the in-laws in Spokane, Washington. And when I say in-laws, I of course mean my in-laws, my husband’s parents and three siblings. I was tempted to play it nice, having had my typical mean-spirited nature somewhat tempered by the kid’s ridiculously good performance on this trip so far. But then I remembered Tony’s advice to me…just be yourself.

The truth is, my in-laws are really good people – nice, loving, sweet people who don’t necessarily understand me or the world I grew up in but try their best to make me feel comfortable in their home and town. So this isn’t so much about them, but more about what it feels like to be in a completely foreign environment with your 9 month old baby, painfully aware of different grandparenting styles, decorating styles, cooking styles, and, well, styles.

Now I admit that I’m certainly not quirk-free. After all, I’m usually somewhat convinced and try to convince others that I’m dying of a strange and mysterious illness. I read things that may not be considered literature. Maybe I don’t act ladylike all the time. I don’t like AC/DC (my husband calls this a quirk, but I call it sanity). I use the minimum amount of effort around the house whenever possible. But still, there are some things I’ve observed that shock and dismay me. I want to believe that these people, who did such a bang-up job raising my fabulously talented and wonderful husband, are fully capable of being outstanding grandparents, but some things just make me scratch my head…or wince. For instance:

Margarine in the cabinet. Did you know that margarine doesn’t need to be refrigerated? I’ve seen this before on a prior visit, but I’m still taken aback when I open the kitchen cabinet to find what looks like a stick of butter wedged right in there between the salt and the vanilla extract.
Paper plates. I agree, washing dishes by hand is misery and wouldn’t it be nice to just chuck the whole mess in the trash when done eating, but something still prevents me from embracing the use of paper plates. To be fair, though, we’ve only used “real” dishes.
Cellophane covering the lamp shade. Doesn’t that come off once the lamp comes home? Or is this just the grandma’s couch syndrome?
A shrine to Pope Benedict XVI – actually “Papst” – the more official or more Latin or Polish or whatever word for Pope. Not to mention more that a few crucifixes scattered about the bedroom we’re in (his parents’, which they insisted we take despite our repeated protests). I’m half afraid my skin might start to smoke. My inner Jew is scared.
The concept of pre-cooking dinner. The way it was explained to us, it’s much easier to grill steak in the morning and then microwave it at dinnertime when you’re ready to eat it. Why cook once when you can cook twice?
Repeated accolades for using “playpens” to keep curious infants under control. Crawling, apparently, is frowned upon.
None of this is serious, just hard to get used to. But all kidding aside, it’s been pretty tough to hand off control to – granted, a set of parents that have successfully raised four children – people other than my family, who, unfortunately, Cheeky just hasn’t had that much time to get to know. The temptation to pick her up every time she cries or take over when unaccustomed hands are trying to wrestle her down long enough to get a diaper on (we’ve ourselves only recently perfected the crawling-away-double-toe-loop-diaper-smack-down) is overwhelming. And while of course I realize that they adore her and would never let anything remotely bad happen to her, it’s still hard to embrace a style of Cheeky watching that isn’t our own, and isn’t my mother’s. Yet as our visit winds down, I see the big smiles in the photos we’ve captured, I watch Cheeky squeal with delight when playing with her aunt and uncles and I acknowledge that Spokane isn’t all that bad and I’m glad we’ve spread the love.